How to Create a Career Portfolio in 7 Steps (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 3 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for a job, companies may require you to submit a CV and cover letter, but sharing a portfolio may display to hiring managers you're qualified for the role. You may find this helps you in your job search. Learning how to create a portfolio showcasing your abilities may help you differentiate yourself from other professionals who have the same background as you. In this article, we discuss what a career portfolio is, describe why they're important, list what to include in it, provide seven steps to create your own and share some tips to consider when making it.

What is a career portfolio?

A career portfolio is like an in-depth CV where you can include examples of your work and skills. You can create an online portfolio where you can include the link to your work on your professional social media networking account or insert the link on your CV for hiring managers to review. Additionally, you may create a physical copy of your portfolio that you can bring with you to job interviews. In your job interviews, you can leave the documents or online link with the interviewer for them to consider when making their choice to hire you.

Related: How to Build a Work Portfolio (With Tips to Follow)

Why is a portfolio for your career important?

A portfolio for your career is important because it serves as evidence of your skills and qualifications listed on your CV. For example, if you include your strong design skills on your CV, in your portfolio you can include your best design pieces for hiring managers to review. Based on the work you include as your evidence, they can determine if you're the right fit for the role. Additionally, a portfolio can display your progress as a professional and in your skills. It can show that you're dedicated to improving your skills and knowledge in your industry.

Related: Short Cover Letter Samples for Different Situations (With FAQ)

Elements to include in a portfolio

Here are elements to include in your portfolio to showcase your skills to hiring managers:

  • personal information

  • career summary or goals

  • professional mission statement

  • CV

  • skills and qualities

  • professional accomplishments

  • samples of your work

  • letters of recommendations

  • awards and honours

  • conferences and workshops attended

  • degrees, certificates and licences

  • professional development activities and events

  • community services and volunteer events attended

  • references

Related: 5 Steps for Writing a Personal Profile on a CV

How to create a career portfolio in 7 steps

Here are some steps you can follow to create your own portfolio for your career effectively:

1. Collect examples of your work

The first step to creating your portfolio is to collect examples of your work to include. If you're beginning your career, you may not have several pieces to include, but you may share school, internship or freelance work that showcases what you've learned. Other work you can include if you've been in your career for a while is work or art you've created in your spare time or in classes you've attended and work from your previous positions. It might be beneficial to ask your managers if it's okay to use the work you've done for them in your portfolio.

2. Construct concise statements

When you're including your career goals, summaries and mission statements, it's important to make them concise. Ensure you're making your ideas and points clear and concise to encourage hiring managers to read them. Often, human resource professionals are reviewing several CVs, cover letters and portfolios in a short amount of time, which is why it's important to get your point across using the least amount of words without it losing meaning.

Related: 44 Examples of Personal Mission Statements (With Tips)

3. Organise the documents logically

In a portfolio, you can have several documents included. It's important to organise them logically, which can differ based on your industry. Some ways you can organise your portfolio is by earliest to latest or latest to earliest work. This set-up allows you to show your skill progression and professional development. Alternatively you can organise your work based on skills. For example, you can have a section for your writing, another section for design and a final section for video editing skills. This can allow hiring managers to gain a better understanding of your skills with visual evidence to review.

4. Include a section about yourself

After you've included your skills with documented evidence, it's important to share some information about yourself. In the section about yourself, you can include an abbreviated CV and a link to download your regular CV if you choose to create an online portfolio. Some personal information to include about yourself is your name, a professional headshot, your degree with the school you attended and the area where you live. This can help the human resource professionals get to know who you are beyond your skills.

5. Add sections listing your accomplishments

Including sections listing your accomplishments can show you've helped contribute to the overall success of other companies in your previous positions. Statistical data to help back up your claims, along with a copy of the award or honour you earned may help hiring managers determine what you may do for them if they were to hire you. If you have any personal accomplishments from your industry, you can also share those in this section.

6. List your references

Collect a list of names and contact information from your references that you can include in your portfolio. Ask permission before including professionals from your network to serve as your references because it can help them prepare for being contacted by a potential human resource professional and to ensure they're going to share positive reviews about your work performance. References combined with your work samples can help provide more evidence of your skills and work ethic to hiring managers.

7. Review your portfolio and update it as necessary

When you're finished with your portfolio, you may find it beneficial to review it before submitting and publishing it. You can review your portfolio for accurate information and grammar mistakes. It's important to ensure your work is free of grammatical errors because it may show those reviewing your portfolio that you take pride in your work and pay attention to the details. Additionally, as you gain more experience in your industry, it's helpful to update your portfolio as necessary.

You can include more current work pieces and new references. You may also find it beneficial to tweak your portfolio based on the position you're applying to earn. For example, if you have skills such as writing, editing, designing and analysing sales data and you're applying for a copywriting role, you may leave off your sales data examples to create a focus on your writing skills.

3 tips for an online portfolio highlighting your career

Here are a few tips to consider when creating your portfolio with a website:

1. Maintain simplicity

When considering how to set up your portfolio, you may find it helpful to keep it simple in design. Keeping your design simple allows the viewers to focus on your work rather than on the flashier aspects of the design. There might be an exception for a little more flair in design if you're marketing yourself as a website designer, which means your web portfolio can serve as part of your work samples. To create a simple portfolio, you can have a white background with a few images related to your work.

2. Create an intuitive navigation

Similar to keeping your portfolio simple online, it's helpful to create intuitive navigation, which means those using the site can understand naturally how to access the information they're seeking. For example, if a user is looking for your contact information and you have an 'about you' section, they may expect to find that information there. If a user can't find the information they're looking for, they may choose to leave the site rather than try to locate the information. This means when you're creating your online portfolio, you put your information in a place where users expect to find it.

3. Add your personality

The work you include in your online portfolio is an essential aspect but it's beneficial to include your personality in it. Including your personality in your portfolio allows the viewer to get to know you better, aside from your education, work experience and skills. If a hiring manager is reviewing your portfolio and they gain insight into your personality, it may help them determine if you're the right fit for the role and work environment at their company.

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