A professional portfolio is a great way to showcase previous projects and accomplishments, and there are many ways in which you can put your portfolio out there for potential employers to see. In the old days, this would require actual physical copies of your work that would be collected in a binder. Thankfully, the modern age makes putting together a professional portfolio much easier.
The first thing you should do is research different platforms that let you host your portfolio. There are many free platforms out there, such as Wix and GoDaddy. If you’re willing to put some money into it, you could choose from paid tiers that offer more in-depth options, but choosing a free platform is perfectly fine. Shop around until you find the platform that works best for you and your chosen field.
A Table of Contents
Your portfolio should be as user-friendly as possible. Potential employers won’t be too thrilled if they have to spend a lot of time learning how to navigate your portfolio, which will greatly decrease your chances at landing a job. A table of contents is a great way to make your portfolio easier to explore and understand. In most cases, the platform you chose should let you create links to new pages that you can customize. Here’s an example of what the items in your table of contents could look like:
- About Me
- Work Examples
- Awards and Recommendations
Of course, this could vary depending on your chosen field, whether you’ve received any awards, or how you choose to title the various sections in your portfolio. If you’d like more information on the differences between a resume and a CV, you can check out our previous blog here.
The About Section
This could also be called a personal statement, and works very much the same way as an objective or personal statement on a resume. A good “about” section should grab the attention of the hiring manager quickly, and typically includes a brief introduction, recent accomplishments, and professional goals.
When sharing your goals, make sure you include both short and long-term goals. Short-term goals show potential employers that you’re always in the process of improving yourself and developing your skills, while long-term goals will demonstrate your commitment to your work, along with your intentions to pursue your career long into the future. Your “about” section should be brief but catchy, so take the time to get it right. A trusted network connection could be a huge help if you’re having any trouble.
You should always include a section in your portfolio to feature your resume or CV. Your resume can provide more details and fill in any blanks from your “about” section. In some cases, you might be able to simply attach your resume as a downloadable form on your portfolio; however, depending on the platform you choose, you may have to input it manually for it to display. Either way, take this opportunity to fine tune any aspects of your resume that you think might need some work before adding it to your portfolio.
Depending on your level of experience, you might have a few examples of your work, or many. The key here is to include only the best examples you have, as having too many can be overwhelming and might cause the hiring manager to move on to the next candidate. Let’s say you’re a web designer and you’ve worked on ten websites. Here, you want to take the time to select work that you’re most proud of or that was done for a notable company, if possible.
It’s important to maintain this particular section of your portfolio. For example, if you completed a new assignment that is of more value than one that’s currently featured in your work examples section, you should seek to update your portfolio as soon as possible. This will be an ongoing process throughout your career, so keep that in mind every time you start a new project.
Awards and Recommendations
Your resume should already include any awards or professional recommendations you might have, but you can go into further detail in your portfolio. Furthermore, if you have any documentation of awards you’ve received, you can include them in this section. Let’s say you’re a photographer and your work was recently featured in a local newspaper. Here, you can include an image of the article along with a brief description. This gives potential employers more background on your accolades, while also making them more tangible.
Your professional recommendations can consist of testimonials from previous employers, coworkers, teachers, or even a mentor. If you’ve received a particularly strong employee assessment in the past, this is a great place to share it. In the absence of such testimonials, you can request them from a previous employer, or from any clients you may have. In most cases, people are happy to provide positive testimonials, as long as you’ve earned them.
Your portfolio should also include your contact information. Here, you don’t have to provide much more than an email address and a short message for anyone who is visiting your portfolio. The message might look something like this: “Thank you for taking the time to check out my portfolio. If you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line.” If you feel your current email address doesn’t sound too professional, create a new one that you can use for professional purposes—just remember to update your resume to include the new email address, and make sure you check your email often.
There’s still a lot of ground to cover when it comes to your portfolio. For example, a creative portfolio might look very different from a STEM student’s portfolio. We’ll go into more depth when it comes to different types of portfolios, so be sure to check back for more information in the future.