Stand Out with a Professional Portfolio

Stand Out with a Professional Portfolio

By: Kathleen Iverson

Imagine you apply for a job or promotion and the interviewer asks, “What did you learn during your graduate studies at Roosevelt University?” While other applicants struggle to recall theories, projects, and coursework, you rely on your professional portfolio, a collection of your most important work from graduate school, to demonstrate your portfolioexpertise. In today’s knowledge economy and competitive job market, it is more important than ever to validate competency. The ability prove that you can do what you claim you can do is powerful.  A portfolio can add life to a static resume and provide a competitive edge to those applying for “stretch” positions.  Whether a career changer applying for a first job in a new field or an experienced professional seeking a promotion, a well-designed portfolio can boost your potential as an applicant. If two candidates interview for the same job and one candidate has a quality portfolio, who do you think will get the job?

In a survey of more than 300 employers, the majority said that a portfolio is desirable to ensure that job applicants have the knowledge and skills required by theyorganization (Hart Research Associates 2013).

Here are just a few demonstrated benefits of portfolios:

  • Offers proof that you can do what youclaim you can do.
  • Academic work is be organized and collected in one place, ready for future job interviews, performance evaluations, or certification.
  • Portfolios contribute to a variety of desirable learning experiences: reflection, constructivist knowledge building, and lifelong learning.
  • In academic settings, portfolios facilitate assessment by offering multiple examples of expertise a rich snapshot of learning.
  • Portfolios can generate self-efficacy and confidence in the learner as a tangibledepiction of knowledge, skill, and ability.
  • A portfolio increases your visibility and will, quite likely, set you apart from other applicants in the job market.
  • Portfolios are thebasis of a more developed LinkedIn profile.
  • Portfolios are flexible. Once you have your initialportfoliocompleted, you can add to it as you take on new projects and develop new skills.

Students in our TRDV 499 course will create a professional portfolio to use for career planning, a job search, or discussions with employers around competency and skill.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you used a portfolio in the past in a job search or to document job skills? If so, what type of portfolio (hard copy or digit) did you use and how did you develop it?
  2. How do think a portfolio might benefit your career?

References

Hart Research Associates. (2013). It takes more than a major: EmployerPrioritiesfor college learning and student success. Liberal Education99(2).

McCready, T. (2007). Portfolios and the assessment of competence in nursing: A literature review. International journal of nursing studies44(1), 143-151.

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26 comments

  • When I first read this post, it was early in the course and I was still largely anxious. Now, after having completed the majority of the course, we are working on our final project – the compilation of the knowledge we’ve gained. What I find comforting is everything is fitting together like pieces of a puzzle. Our portfolio will be the completed puzzle that has been graded and approved by graduate school instructors who are also professionals in the industry . Knowing that I can demonstrate to my future employer, how my KSAs will be benefit them, through the use of a professional portfolio, helps to build my eagerness to join the field of T & D.

  • I feel portfolios are beneficial to interviews if the role requires a example of your scope of work. I have been in interviews where I did not need to show my portfolios but then I have had interviews where using my portfolios gave me a leg up in the interview. I created my first portfolio in my undergrad program. It definitely helped me to create a body of work of my skills and abilities.
    I haven’t used a portfolio in a long time but I think I will build another portfolio so I can use it in my next interview.

  • A great portfolio allows you to have an interview and be in the moment. The portfolio is there waiting to be leveraged for the right moment, if and when it comes. Being comfortable during interviews is not always easy, you might not be perfect but having a solid portfolio helps. In presenting your portfolio it’s nice to be able to say, “I have samples of all my work here for you to look at as needed”. This allows them to fit it in when and where they might want. I think it is important how the portfolio is presented. Although you might have spent years building it, you are not presenting it as homework for the hiring manager to read. Instead, I like to have it as a supplement. Being ready to dive in fully at any given moment but also leaving it there to speak for itself to help the hiring manager make that tough decision.

  • I haven’t used a professional portfolio in my past. However, I do understand the importance of creating one now to demonstrate my skills in the training industry. A professional portfolio is proof of relevant documents and artifacts that showcases your talents, most relevant skills, and charts your professional growth.

  • I heard of making a portfolio while pursuing my Bachelor Degree, but they did not make it mandatory nor did they show me how to make one. I now understand what one is just from reading this. Therefore, I have never had or used one. The practice may be good when I take TRDV 499. I do think it is a great idea and would benefit in career search.

  • Hi Dr. Iverson,

    Great blog and good information. I find the use of a portfolio to be very interesting and could prove to be very beneficial.
    I have never used a portfolio in the past, however, I am hearing more and more from other candidates requesting to provide their portfolio at the interview. I recently interviewed a young man who brought his portfolio to an interview. His work was unrelated to the job, but the panel and I were very impressed with his initiative and past professional work from past projects.

    For my BA program, we created a website to use for interviewing which I believe is very close to a portfolio. We were able to send people to the site to view our previous works.

    I do believe creating a professional portfolio would benefit my career and help my resume stand out among other qualify applicants.

    This article was very informative.

    Thanks

    Gigi Moore

  • Professor Iverson,

    This is such rich information. I had not used or developed a portfolio prior my graduate work and I didn’t fully understand how beneficial it could be in so many ways. I can definitely see how it would set me a part in my career when seeking opportunities for promotion as well as in my business when seeking to gain new clients.

    Great topic. Thank you so much for sharing!

    Portia

  • I have never used a portfolio to gain job offers in the past, but I did create what I have called a resume packet when I graduated in 2012 with my BA. It was to centralize all the necessary documents most employers ask for (cover letter, resume, and reference list). I did not see any benefit to using portfolios then as for the positions I went to interview for found them unnecessary.

    Now, working as a technician in management and gaining more technical skills, I would like to use the portfolio from the Training and Development program assist in jump starting a new career in the Informational Technology Field.

    Thank you for sharing the benefits and quality experience a portfolio may bring.

    Best,
    Emerson

  • Having a professional portfolio is very important. Actually, the college of pharmacy here at Roosevelt requires us to make one on a website called MyCred. MyCred serves as a good professional platform where we, students, can highlight our accomplishments and acheivments.

  • Marta Bujnowska

    I never used a portfolio and I never created one. I feel like this would be very beneficial.

  • Personally, I have yet to use a portfolio while on a job interview. However, I think it would be a great idea to create a portfolio as it will make you stand out and more noticeable on the job market. Creating a portfolio is advantageous because it is a way of documenting and evaluating employee growth.

  • While interviewing for a position, it is difficult for a candidate to communicate every strength to the interviewers in the short duration of the interview. In such a case, a strong, well-designed portfolio lets a candidate stand out and leave a lasting impression. I believe that creating a portfolio will organize and highlight my academic and extracurricular accomplishments and act as a record of ongoing career development.

  • I have yet to use a portfolio, but i do think It would be beneficial. It is good to help show what you’re made of with your skills and abilities overall.

  • Maryam Alebraheem

    Great article. I am not currently using a portfolio and now I understand that it is a good tool to use to list my credibility and capability of excelling in a workplace.

  • Dispose definitely reminds me of all the things that I need to put aside to work and record and write out everything that I’ve accomplished so far since starting at Roosevelt University. As a pharmacy student you get involved in a lot of organizations and you get to do a lot of things outside of your realm of academics and grades so it’s great to have a portfolio while presenting at a job because sometimes you’re in an interview and you forget some of the things you have accomplished and that those particular things can be very important to the interview. Also to the world of LinkedIn I really don’t have a file ready but I am planning to work on a pro folio personally to have it ready and start jotting down every step of the way. I feel like the people who do these interviews a look for portfolios because they look for organization skills and extracurricular activities that would make you an outstanding person besides all the other applicants. Definitely a thought to keep in mind to keep working on these in the future.

  • I have not done a professional portfolio but I understand the benefits that it brings. I am currently a student in the Training and Development Program here at Roosevelt, and I must say that everything is relative to my current job. The best benefit showcase of proof, and confidence that I am hoping to build. A portfolio will help me launch into a more advanced position in management, specifically within the Information Technology area.

    Thank you so much for the information!

    Emerson A.Murphy, Jr.

  • Madison Quinton

    I have yet to use a portfolio to get a job but I do think they are beneficial. It is easy to say what you are capable of without backing it up but I think the portfolio gives a good indication of what you are capable of. I am looking forward to creating my portfolio to compile all of my work and for employers to see what I can do and what I bring to the table. I think this gives them a better look at what I can accomplish as an employee as well as how I can add to their team.

  • This was a very interesting post. I never thought that having a portfolio in hand while applying for a position could give you that extra push over the competition. I currently do not have a Linkedin account at the moment although my family is encouraging me to make one I usually pass on the idea however after reading this blog I believe creating an account sooner and beginning a portfolio will give me the opportunity to showcase my work and what I have accomplished. In addition, its a great way to connect with other members that are experienced and full of knowledge in my profession. I do want to begin networking now that I am in pharmacy school because they do say that the world of pharmacy is small and you never know who you’ll meet along the way. I have currently worked with a pharmacist that was taught by one of my professors at Roosevelt University. I just find that remarkably astonishing that my first preceptor was a student in my professors class. Pharmacy is no doubt a small world after all and by creating an account on Linkedin and learning how to use the website I will be more than capable to apply and be considered for pharmacy positions in the future.

  • I have never used a portfolio to apply for a job, but I think that it could definitely help me get ahead in a field that I am still newer to. Adding proof that I have the potential to a particular job could definitely give me a leg up when applying to my next role. As a manager I never see new candidates do that but would definitely take the time to review them if they were submitted.

  • Its comforting to know that will help with changing careers. Being able to rely on the portfolio as evidence of my knowledge when the time comes gives me a sense of confidence. I look too forward to that creating my first professional portfolio

  • I used a professional portfolio on my last job interview and it was a very good resource to be able to provide tangible examples of my body of work and relate it to what the organization was looking for in the role. Like you mentioned in the post, you are able to prove what you’ve done as opposed to only speaking to it. To enhance my portfolio, I am going to add information from my graduate studies. I think that can be very attractive to hiring managers to be able to showcase the models and approaches that I will apply to the core responsibilities of the role that I am applying for.

  • Dr. Iverson, you are completely right about not having the rights to share past work as well. Most of my work was considered confidential and I have signed many NDAs during my career. I generally have to redact the client’s information when sharing past work. I verbally share who I worked with but don’t leave pieces of work behind with their names on it.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It was interesting to hear about two different approaches to the use of our portfolio. I am excited to see your web-based portfolio develop Karolyn and I agree, it will be a very useful tool in marketing your consulting skills. Sarah, I agree, there are times when you might include a portfolio in your LInkedIn profile, but it must be something you are completely comfortable in sharing. One other aspect to consider as you develop work-based exhibits is to make sure you are not sharing information that the companies you worked for do not want you to share. I know an engineer who was fired for revealing proprietary information about a “secret” project he was working on in his LInkedIn profile! So always best to check and get a written release for work-based assignments.

  • Karolyn Rubin (Szymanski)

    As a TD practitioner and owner of training and organization development consulting companies, professional portfolios have opened many doors that otherwise would have remained closed by clients seeking my services. Typically, during the courtship stage of client engagements, establishing an opportunity for an appointment to discuss business opportunities is the easy part. It takes persistency and tenacity to build rapport and trust with clients in wanting to know more about your services. The difficult part is keeping the client engaged and interested. Every client I’ve entered into an agreement with has asked to see samples of my work that aligned with a similar project scope they needed prior to entering into a formal consulting agreement. Typically, I have emailed hard copies for clients to review. Hard copies are also nice to use during in person meetings with clients. I always include the scope of project summary statement (industry of client, stakeholder’s need, and how the training or organization intervention was chosen to solve the client’s need), the project itself (excluding any proprietary or confidential information that were not deemed public or when expressed authorization by the client was not given to share their information), and a conclusion statement (recapping the outcome of results for that client’s need). Follow up conversations and being available to address any questions clients may ask after reviewing my portfolio have led me to doing business with them.

    I’ve since evolved and have begun to create an e-portfolio that represents to exhibit my projects. What is exciting about this web-based portfolio is that clients will be able to access it as they need to, promote my consulting services by embedding links to my portfolio on e-marketing materials, and posting links of my e-portfolio to social media sites such as LinkedIn.

    Whether your portfolio is a hard copy or digital, portfolios help future employers or clients take the guesswork out of the equation of their decision-making process to either hire or agree to do business with you. Portfolios transition the conversation the intended audience would typically ask during an interview of “Tell me what you know and what you’ve done” to “Show me what you know and what you’ve done”. It tangibly represents your capabilities, experiences, and expertise as a TD practitioner.

  • I am a proponent of compiling your work into a portfolio to showcase your skills and expertise. I have never used a portfolio in a job search before; however, I have brought samples of my work on job interviews.

    In my past industry verbal and especially written communication skills were a top attribute to possess. I found that bringing samples of my written work (client proposals, POVs, case studies, performance reports, etc.) were a great way to provide examples around my competency of a specific skill or job duty. It also is a great conversational piece during an interview, especially one that is less structured (like when a manager gets pulled in the last minute). I also have worked as a hiring manager before and always enjoyed with applicants fresh out of school would bring samples of their college work to interviews because I liked to hear about what they had learned in school!

    I’m not sure if I would feel comfortable permanently showcasing my T&D portfolio on LinkedIn. I think I will probably add relevant coursework to my LinkedIn profile and resume along with any related projects I’ve worked on to optimize my profile with industry-specific keywords. After getting the interview, I would then bring the portfolio as a talking point, similar to how I did in the past. If a job specifically asked me to submit one for an interview, I would comply in that case.

    I think since I am a career changer, a portfolio will benefit my career. It will serve as a tangible asset I can explain during job interviews showcasing my understanding and application of theories and practices I have learned while at Roosevelt University in the T&D Master’s program.

  • I haven’t used a portfolio in the past but I did create one in my undergrad program. It is a very good tool to have to demonstrate your ability and skills that you can bring to the table. I look forward to creating one in TRDV 499.

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