Your Professional Story: How to Make a Career Portfolio That Tells All

4 min read
Feb 8, 2021 7:58:18 PM

Submitting a resume and job application is often a requirement. Applicants can include a cover letter to showcase their personality, demonstrate their translatable experiences, and provide a summary.


But what options are there to take it one step further?


The ultimate goal of an application is to stand out from the rest of the competition. An impressive career portfolio can provide this by helping to portray specific examples of the applicant's work.


Below are some helpful tips on how to make a career portfolio that impresses employers.


What Is a Career Portfolio?


A career portfolio, also known as a work, job, or professional portfolio, comprehensively displays a collection of professional examples of work to potential employers.


Career portfolios are becoming increasingly popular amongst applications for art, publishing, design, and tech job fields.


It is a strong possibility that career portfolios are a thing of the future in all job fields. It is common for any of the following jobs to require a career portfolio with applications:


  • Artist
  • Photographer
  • Videographer
  • Model
  • Graphic designer
  • Software Developer
  • Writer
  • Editor
  • Creative director


Portfolios can be created as a physical document or online through a career portfolio website builder.


The type of career portfolio will usually depend on the kind of work the job requires. 


What Should a Career Portfolio Include?


The ultimate goal of a career portfolio is to demonstrate the applicant's skill level, which they can express through a series of elements, including:


  • Professional resume
  • List of skills
  • Biographical information
  • Relevant degrees, licensing, or certifications
  • Examples of professional creation
  • Awards or accomplishments
  • Letter(s) of recommendation


A career portfolio is a helpful tool for both the applicant and the employer in the interviewing process.


Applicants can easily reference different pieces of their career portfolio during an interview, making the overall experience much more interactive.


On the other hand, employers will display the applicant's work to hang on too long after the interview has ceased.


How to Create a Career Portfolio


Although career portfolios can significantly impact a job application process, they can be simple to create.


Here is how to get started:


Collect Information


Have all relevant work information up to date and ready to be put into the career portfolio. Make sure to try and tailor all of the included elements specifically to the job position.


Organize It All


The information in the career portfolio should be easy to find. Put the resume, biographical information, and skills toward the front as a good rule of thumb. All other relevant items should follow in order of importance.


Make It Visually Appealing


For physical career portfolios, consider using tabs and color-coding to make the information quick and easy to find.


For online career portfolios, use categories and separate pages as much as possible to have the same effect.


Customize It


Ensure that you customize each career portfolio specifically to the job. Once you have created the original master career portfolio, customizing it by swapping out specific elements should be relatively straightforward.


How to Make a Career Portfolio That Stands Out


Regardless of the industry, having a career portfolio that stands out helps secure landing the job for the applicant.


Here are five easy tips to follow on how to make an excellent career portfolio.


1. Know What to Show Off


The first step to creating a knockout career portfolio is understanding what the employer wants to see. Despite having a lot more space for freedom and creativity, it is essential to remember to keep the information as concise as possible to appease the general population's limited attention span.


Start by making a master list of all relevant workpieces and then rank them based on their impressive performance. Aim to pick the top 10-20, depending on the size, to display in the portfolio. Another option would be to choose a series of pieces to historically show the wide range of services and skills.


2.  Keep it Simple


While it might be tempting to pack a portfolio with as much information as possible, remember to keep it simple. Less is always more. 


It is recommended to dedicate a specific section in your physical or online career portfolio titled "My Work" or "Work Samples" and include an overview of all your work on one easy-to-view page, followed by detailed information on each piece.


Build that project page carefully, as overloading pictures can feel busy. But, with thoughtful consideration, it can be beautifully constructed and aesthetically pleasing.


3. Use Categories


Much like the "My Work" example, try to use categories throughout the portfolio like "About Me" to keep things easy to navigate for potential employers. Breaking things down categorically help to minimize visual clutter and prevent employers from skipping over sections unknowingly.


Categories are also a helpful tool to display an applicant's range by quickly laying out all different skill sets, followed by more specific information about each.


4. Show Some Personality


Career portfolios display professional production examples, but applicants must address the personality element. Having a career portfolio is fun because it allows potential employers to view a little window into the applicant's personality.


That's why including a biographical portion in any career portfolio is essential. Even if you look at any significant company website online, you will almost always find an "About Us" section to help personalize the page.


5. Include an Introduction


Introductions are an element often overlooked in physical and online career portfolios. The introduction does not have to be extensive. Still, providing the potential employer with an overview of what to expect in the portfolio's contents is essential.


Look at Florida State University's Career Center Sample Portfolios to see a career portfolio introduction sample.




Although a career portfolio might seem overwhelming, applicants find it a beneficial element in the interviewing process through development.


A career portfolio allows applicants of various job fields to stand out from others and display confidence in their personality and work.

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