Tips for Building a Professional Portfolio

It’s easy to talk your way through something but to have tangible evidence of what you are saying is invaluable. In most careers, creating a body of work is important whether it consists of research, reports, projects, or even your social media stream. Especially in a creative field, it is important to have a polished portfolio to showcase what you know how to do and what you are good at.

Portfolio Basics

  • Make your portfolio accessible. Whether that is a website, a PDF file, a publishing platform or simply a lucrative google search. Something that lives in a vacuum won’t do you any good, so make it something you can easily share and show potential employers, colleagues, or your grandma (we both know she always loves to know what you’re up to)
  • Make it consistent. Use consistent formatting, fonts and colors. Of course, not every work sample will look exactly the same, but to put it in a document that is uniform shows your effort and makes you look organized.
  • Only show your best work. Showing something that is sub par, not finished, or has typos is portfolio suicide. Your portfolio should be your pride and joy so treat it as such and only include things that are perfection.
  • Invest your time to make something you’re proud of. The opportunity cost of a portfolio is the hours you spend on it, but it will pay off immensely. Take the time to make it perfect, collect the right samples and make it exactly what you want. Once you’ve finished, the work is done (at least the majority) for the time being.
  • Keep it up to date. A great work sample is timeless, but as you continue to work, your work will improve so update your portfolio accordingly.

Things to remember

  • Either be very specific, or show a broad range. You can go about your portfolio two ways. Currently, I only have a finished writing portfolio. While it essentially focuses on my writing, I chose samples in a way that also touch on some other things I’ve worked on. That being said, focus on one aspect of your skills or try to showcase all of them. Make it all inclusive or very specific that way you won’t have to title it “Marketing, SEO, Social Media, and Photography portfolio.” It can either be your name or one of those things so it isn’t overwhelming or confusing.
  • This is your calling card and your career history for those who haven’t worked with you before. You can say you can write a killer press release as many times as you want, but for someone who hasn’t worked with you before having a sample of that is a great resource. It also shows what your resume does but in a much more in depth and concrete way.
  • A great portfolio can set you apart from the rest of your colleagues and competition.
    A portfolio may seem like a no-brainer but you would be totally surprised at how many people do not have one. It may be more important for people in a creative field, but it’s still a resource you may need. I’m pretty proficient in the Adobe Suite so when I was asked for one but didn’t have it, I was able to whip something up rather quickly. However, that was only possible because I already had quite to stock pile of work samples. It’s better to be proactive and create one now so down the road you won’t be scrambling to send it to a prospective employer.

Resources

I’ve published my Portfolio on Issuu. You can simply upload a PDF and then it can be flipped through as a gorgeous e-magazine. Super convenient to send around as well!

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