By Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
Depending on the field in which you work, you may be asked to submit work samples at some point during the hiring process. The collection of examples of your work product is often called a portfolio. The content of your portfolio will vary depending on your goals, your industry, and the type of roles for which you are applying.
Portfolios in Days of Yore
Earlier in my career, I had my "me book" that I woudl bring with me when I had in-person job interviews. It was a three ring binder the included neatly organized printed samples of my previous work. I did not give this to a hiring manager, but I would do a brief show and tell and explain each document. In addition, I also included a copy of my resume, certificates from classes I had taken and certifications I had achieved, and transcripts from college and graduate school.
When I attended and interview with a hiring manager or potential coworkers, often someone would ask if I happend to bring any work samples with me. I would often walk them through one or more of my work samples, described the design decisions involved in its creation, and told them the story of how I solved a work problem and how that work sample fit in.
Now, typically a portfolio is expected to be available online. You should have a link that you can share with a potential employer. In some cases, employer may review your work samples later on in the hiring process. In many cases, employers may ask for a portfolio link during the application process. Depending on the role and organization, companies may even not consider applications for some jobs which do not include a portfolio link.
What To Include
When it comes to determining what to include in your portfolio, it comes down to your overall goals. At it's most basic, you need to make sure you include samples of your work that align with the tasks and projects included in the jobs you would like to do. Here are a few examples:
Overall, you need to figure out what skills are required, and show examples of how you have done that type of work in the past.
What You Can Showcase
Your overall goals for your portfolio will help you determine what to include. Depending on what skillset you are trying to demonstrate, here are just a few of many possible focus areas for someone who is an instructional designer:
None of these examples is right or wrong. Instead these are alternate approaches you might want to take to support your overall professional goals.
What Do You Think?
What skills do you want to showcase in a portfolio? What skills and work examples might you include? What approach might you take to organizing your portfolio? Share your thoughts in the comments.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.