A portfolio is a collection of sample achievements. It is designed to demonstrate your skills as they relate to your career goals or the job you're interested in. It can be in the form of a physical file (binder, folder, etc.) or a webspace (website, blog, social media page, etc.).
Although it's mostly used in the arts, graphic arts and infographics, a portfolio can also be a useful tool in other fields.
The achievements presented in your portfolio can be related to your work, internships, volunteer work, personal activities (such as recreational activities) or family activities (providing help with homework, acting as an informal caregiver, etc.). Depending on your field, your portfolio may include photos, artwork and/or texts.
Generally speaking, the best time to present a hard copy of your portfolio is during an interview.
How to put together a portfolio
Putting together a portfolio can be quite time-consuming as it means going back over all your achievements and selecting the ones that are most relevant.
Here's a suggestion on how to proceed:
- Make a list of your skills.
- Identify the most important skills for your career goal or the job you want. If you have a good idea of what the company is looking for, it will be easier to choose your most relevant achievements.
- Gather together the documents (texts, posters, reports, photos, etc.) that best showcase the skills you’ve listed and illustrate your achievements.
- Arrange your documents in an organized manner.
- Present your portfolio to someone you trust, and ask for their comments.
- Be sure to go over your portfolio before the interview.
What your portfolio should contain
Your portfolio should contain (in the following order):
- Cover page (name, address, telephone number, email address, date, etc.)
- Table of contents
- Statement summarizing your career objective
- You may have already written your career objective in your résumé — make sure you don't contradict yourself.
- Description of your skills as they pertain to the job you’re applying for
- Description of an achievement or a situation in which you used these skills
- Appendices including the documents that illustrate your achievements
The documents that illustrate your achievements may include:
- Texts, photos of your achievements (e.g., landscaping work) or management plans;
- Your diplomas, certificates and other attestations
- Positive reviews of your work
- Letters of thanks or congratulations
- List of the awards you have received
- Description of projects you have worked on
- Documents in which your name is mentioned
Tailor your portfolio to each interview. Include only those documents that highlight skills related to the job you're applying for.
Resources like employability services organizations (French only) and Services Québec employees can provide you with the help and advice you need to put together or improve your portfolio.