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How to Make a Career Portfolio that Stands Out

Kevin James Curran
Feb 8, 2021 7:58:18 PM

It is often required to submit a resume along with a job application these days. In addition to a resume, a cover letter can be included to add a little more personality and exemplify translatable experiences on behalf of the applicant.


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 portfolio, job portfolio, or professional portfolio, acts to comprehensively display a collection of professional examples of works to potential employers.

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


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 for which the job requires. 

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What Is Included in a Career Portfolio?

Ultimately, the concept of a career portfolio is to display an applicant's level of skill, which can be expressed 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 in the interviewing process for both the applicant and employer.

Applicants can easily reference different pieces of their career portfolio amidst 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 quite 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

All of the information provided in the career portfolio should be easy to find. As a good rule of thumb, put the resume, biographical information, and skills towards the front. 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 all of 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

Don’t forget to make sure each career portfolio is customized specifically to the job at hand. After the original master career portfolio has been created, swapping out specific elements to customize it 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 varying pieces to historically show the wide ranges 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. 


Whether it be a physical or online career portfolio, it is recommended to have a specific section dedicated to examples of work titled “My Work” or “Work Samples.” Have an overview of all of the work on one, easy to view page, followed by detailed information of each piece.


Make sure to 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 to keep things easy to navigate for potential employers. Breaking things down categorically help to minimize visual clutter and also prevent the possibility of employers 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

While career portfolios are about displaying professional production examples, the personality element mustn’t be ignored. Part of the fun of having a career portfolio is to allow the potential employer to have a little window into the applicant’s personality with which they are viewing.


That’s why it is essential to include a biographical portion in any career portfolio. 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 career portfolios, both physical and online. The introduction does not have to be extensive, but it is essential to provide the potential employer with an overview of what to expect in the portfolio’s contents.


To see a career portfolio introduction sample, take a look at Florida State University’s Career Center Sample Portfolios.


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

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

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