The Art of a Portfolio


Today’s post is from Brienne Walsh at Schimelpfenig Library:

As you’re preparing for an interview and wondering how you can set yourself apart from other candidates, you might want to consider creating a portfolio to showcase a collection of your skills and experience. Workers in visual fields such as photography and graphic design are no longer the only ones who use portfolios to impress prospective employers. Jobseekers in almost any field can use a portfolio to give themselves an edge in an interview.


What are the benefits of bringing a portfolio to an interview?

  • You can show samples of your work. If you are asked to give an example of a project you completed or an improvement you made with a past job, you can do more than offer a verbal recap. You can use your portfolio to show what you have done and offer more details.
  • You have a tangible conversation starter. As your interviewer(s) ask you the standard interview questions that every applicant will be asked, you might not have the opportunity to highlight all of your skills and experience. Your interviewer may flip through your portfolio and ask you to talk about something you included that you would not have had a chance to discuss otherwise.
  • A portfolio can demonstrate that you are serious about your interest in the job you’re interviewing for. It takes time to assemble a portfolio and your interviewer will likely recognize that and appreciate your effort.

What should your portfolio look like? What kind of examples should you add to your portfolio?

Your portfolio should represent you – there is no one-size fits all portfolio. You don’t need to spend a lot of money creating a portfolio. Portfolios can be a collection of works in a folder, a 3-ring binder, or a digital version. If you create a digital portfolio, you will want to bring a tablet for your interviewer to view it on.

It’s best to offer an appetizer instead of serving a three course meal. A portfolio should provide an overview of what makes you the ideal candidate for the position rather than document every project you have ever worked on. Depending on the fields you have worked in, courses you have taken, certificates you’ve earned, or the job you are applying for, you will likely highlight different elements in your portfolio. Some examples of items to include in your portfolio are:

  • Reports you wrote
  • Marketing campaigns you contributed to
  • A proposal for a program or improvement
  • Before and after data to show an improvement
  • Before and after pictures of a project
  • Pictures of displays you made
  • Copies of certificates you earned
  • A list of any notable achievements
  • A copy of your resume