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How to create a portfolio

In some industries, a portfolio is commonplace and if you arrived at an interview without one you would be shown the door. But is it still important to have a portfolio if you haven’t specifically been asked to provide one? If you want to stay ahead of the competition then the answer is yes! Your portfolio is your chance to sell yourself; a catalogue of your achievements all laid out in one place for prospective employers to be impressed by. So, how do you create your portfolio and what should be included?

Although portfolios for certain jobs/sectors may need specific contents, the following is a rough guide for anyone putting together their portfolio:

  • Include a front cover.
  • Adding an index of the contents will allow for quick scanning by employers so they can find the most relevant information to them.
  • Next, ensure you have added your CV, with any relevant qualifications, experience and interests. You can find information on how to make a well-designed and tailored CV here.
  • Including a personal profile will give your potential employer an opportunity to get to know you as a person, what you value and how you work.
  • Next you can include your key achievements and skills. You should provide evidence to back this up, so any award certificates or even just print outs of the great work you have done will go well here. You should also include any mentions of your work in the press.
  • If you are applying for a job which requires specific licenses, there should be included too.
  • Now you should include specific examples of your work, starting with the most relevant for the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a journalism position, you could include print outs of any published articles or blogs you have written, along with the brief for that piece and any feedback you may have received on it.
  • You may also want to include evidence of how your work enhanced your company’s overall performance, for example a chart detailing an increase in revenue or client satisfaction.
  • If you are creating a portfolio just after graduating from university, you may want to add any examples of projects you were working on, feedback from work experience placements or your dissertation.

Now that you know what to include in your portfolio, there are a few other things you should take into consideration before getting started:

  • Presentation and layout – There is no point in putting together a messy portfolio. Your portfolio is what you use to sell yourself, so it’s worth putting some effort into. You might want to buy an attractive looking folder or ring binder for it. You’ll want to ensure all fonts are consistent, there aren’t any spelling or grammar mistakes and that your visuals are all high quality.
  • Customise your portfolio to match the job description – There is no ‘one size fits all’ portfolio. Each employer will have different expectations and you can use the job description and any prior communications with the employer to customise your portfolio to better match those expectations.
  • Take your time to evaluate your skills – Knowing your skill set is important, but you should make sure you can back up every skill you claim to have. Think about examples that prove your skills and try to include as many relevant skills as you can.
  • Make sure everything is relevant – There is no point including irrelevant information just to bulk out your portfolio. Your potential employer wants the hard facts and doesn’t want to read through irrelevant information.

Having a portfolio will put you one step ahead of the competition and highlights your willingness to go the extra mile. Follow our advice and you will be well on your way to creating a winning portfolio.