What is a Portfolio
Portfolio is a showcase and a marketing tool to demonstrate a candidate’s work and its outcomes and quality, and characteristics, hence providing a holistic picture of a candidate’s potential for an employer.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and so are portfolios. A portfolio can present outcomes, samples, processes, projects, work phases, quality of your work, contexts, competences, soft skills and hard skills and their context of use, your characteristics, but also other experiences, interests and hobbies. A portfolio hence provides a holistic picture of a candidate’s potential for an employer. A clear visual presentation also helps others to understand immediately the range of skills and competences which otherwise might be more difficult to perceive through a Curriculum Vitae and words, grades, and project names.
The Difference Between a Portfolio and a Curriculum Vitae
While a Curriculum Vitae (CV) is a listing of what you are and your history, a portfolio showcases your work, and brings content into what has been listed on a CV. Often indeed, a portfolio is sent, or linked, with the CV.
|A showcase collection of samples of your work, delivery of work and outcomes, skills and/or activities||A compact listing|
|A demonstration of the quality of your work.||A listing of the events, grades, information.|
|Consists of text and visual elements, vectors, infographics and other pictures, also audio-visual material.||Mainly text, also infographics. Some, depending on the aim, can be more visual and personalised.|
|A tool for branding the work and skills.||Generally short.|
|Can be long, e.g. many pages.|
Both, a CV and a portfolio, should be updated regularly and customised to different employers and job positions. In addition, one may have a more generic version of both online.
Have a look at the examples of portfolios and how they can play with visuality. You can find more examples at the end of this module:
- Industrial Design Portfolio by Gokhan Keman: – https://www.coroflot.com/gokhankeman/Industrial-Design-Portfolio
- 15 Bet Moderns Portfolios of 2020: – https://www.designbombs.com/best-modern-design-portfolios/
- 28 Amazing Portfolios to Inspire You: – https://www.creativebloq.com/portfolios/examples-712368
- 11 Online Portfolios That Are Sure to Inspire: – https://skillcrush.com/blog/10-online-portfolios-that-are-sure-to-inspire/
- Professor Anna Cramer: – http://annecramer.weebly.com/you-are-a-brand-social-media-portfolio-project.html
- 17 Winning Teaching Portfolio Examples That will Inspire You: – https://mytechclassroom.com/teaching-portfolio-examples/
- Christopher doyle™ identity guidelines 2008 – https://www.slideshare.net/hasantayyar/christopher-doyle-identity-guidelines-2008
- My Personal Brand Book: – https://www.slideshare.net/danmgray/my-personal-brand-book-7193493
10 – 20 minutes
Are Portfolios only for Creative or Product-related sectors?
The answer is no. Portfolios can be used in any sector. One simply needs to think about what are the elements and tasks of own work, and how are the outcomes. Here are some examples of what could be shown in a portfolio:
- Teacher: How about talking about your teaching methods and philosophy? Have you used something novel? What kind of students and learners have you worked with? How did you approach them, help them to learn and how did the learning results develop? What kind of assessment have you used? How about talking about a specific course? How you planned it, what planning did you do together with students, what was the process and how was it delivered, what were the outcomes of the student’s work and student satisfaction, and how did the learning of students increase? All this could be presented using narration, images, videos, infographics and even online links.
- Biology: Why not to show processes of planning, implementing and analysing a research or investigation process on animals? Or how you communicate with animals? How do you observe animals? Do you have any photos, videos or other evidence of the process?
- Translator or proof reader: You could for instance provide samples of your translations and provide further detail how they match the cultural aspects.
- Veterinarian: How about showing how you have healed animals and how you take care of them? How is your service process organised? How do you take care of the pet owners? Having a sick pet or having to put a pet to sleep is usually a heart shattering experience for a pet owner.
- Librarian: You could show, for instance, how you encourage reading and the kind of offering for different kinds of readers. What other events or exhibitions do you organise? Do you use social media for the library?
What kinds of examples could you come up with?
Exercises to help you develop this skill
Exercise 1: Create Your Own Portfolio
Estimated time to complete: 45 – 120 minutes
- Paper, a journal or a notebook, any material to take notes
The starting point
Knowing yourself, detecting your own soft and hard skills, work experiences, other experiences and hobbies.
Customising the portfolio for different purposes and employers.
Things to express on a portfolio
Among the things to express on a portfolio are your work and its outcomes, samples, processes, projects, work phases, quality of your work, contexts, competences, soft skills and hard skills and their context of use, your characteristics, but also other experiences, interests and hobbies, and personality. You can also use awards, feedback, exhibitions or even handmade samples or images of them, volunteer activity, networks, or big achievements, even climbing on a mountain, as these too can tell about your soft skills and personality.
However, one should remember that a collection of things, achievements or skills do not provide a clear picture of your work potential, but outcomes of work and work processes are always important to show. If you do not happen to have work experience from your sector yet, you can use student assignments in showcasing or by developing your own cases to solve. Also experiences from underemployed positions are important as they do not only reveal soft skills, but they can be linked to your own substance field, and they can show how you can analyse and organise work as well.
Ways to showcase it on a portfolio
Use clear demonstrations, detailed sequential and visual narratives of a work process, its phases, but also show the outcome, the end product.
Use references of extra-curricular activities. Evidence through networks, recommendations from previous employers, peer reviews and feedback, internships, and by providing feedback of individual roles and skills in practice.
Ways and techniques to showcase a portfolio
A portfolio can be electronic or physical. It uses visualisation and text. Different techniques can be used for portfolios, for instance a collage, an infographics, icons, pictures and images, visual process descriptions, comic strip, slideshows (e.g. on Prezi or in a video format), Canva, or video and audios, whichever is the best tool for oneself and suitable for the sector or organisation.
Portfolio can also be delivered online as a webpage or in social media.
Other useful things
A portfolio should be clear and interesting. Match also the presentation to the sector and your personality
Use images you have permission to and ask permission if you would use images with other people. Be careful when showcasing people.
Remember the attitude. It tells a lot. Soft skills can be detected through attitude, enthusiasm, behaviours, inspiration and intuition detected during discussions in meetings and interviews.
Search soft skills online and from job applications that are most relevant and requested. You can express these even separately, for instance, using word clouds or with infographics. You can especially highlight these on your portfolio, but also show where you have purchased them, as in the example below.
Parts of a portfolio
A portfolio should have at least the following parts:
- About me, which can include a CV
- Works/ Projects. Projects can be a separate heading too
- Contact can include social media channels
It can also include a section for:
Step-by-step Instructions for Creating a Portfolio
It is time to start working on the portfolio. Use the earlier information and start building your portfolio. You can find more information about online tools, and more examples of portfolios to inspire you after this process description.
1. Write down your work experience and aspects related to these. As well as different jobs and job positions, write down projects, cases and tasks. You can do one for jobs and one or more for projects and processes at work. For each of them, write for instance:
- What was it about (the job, the project)
- What was the process, e.g. what kind of tasks did your work in general or in a project include?
- Who did you work with and at which stages? What were they like and what sectors were they from?
- What was your role and at what stage? What did you contribute to the whole?
- What was the context of the work? Where did you work? For instance, have you worked abroad?
- Did you work with stakeholders? What kinds of stakeholders did you work with?
- How did you overcome challenges?
- What were the general outcomes of the work? Was it something new? Add information of any increase in sale etc., images of a campaign, numbers or other. You can add information about the starting point and the result as well, e.g. old campaign, new campaign, how they look like and what has improved.
2. Now, for each aspect, list the soft skills that you needed in those situations, projects and jobs. You can use the mind-mapping technique or simply bullet points for this, or any other technique that might suit you the best.
3. Next list the hard skills, including the discipline-based skills that you needed in those projects and jobs. You can use the mind-mapping technique or simply bullet points for this.
Now you have a basic list of all your skills. Next comes the phase, customising and transforming the work done into a proper portfolio.
4. Think about the job and organisation you are going to apply for or a new career path you want to develop. Select the jobs and projects that are the most relevant ones for this purpose. You can also plan a generic portfolio.
5. Make a visual or audio presentation of your portfolio with the selected jobs, cases and projects. Choose the technique that best suits you and this purpose. You can use videos, comic strips, graphic programmes, PPT etc. to work on it. Remember only to use images you have a permission for or those that are copy right free.
Writing a script and planning what you need in different work phases can assist this process. Use infographics and other visual cues and representations as they help to make your portfolio clearer and easier to read.
6. Have someone review your portfolio and do not forget your contact information.
Online tools and platforms to help in portfolio creation
There is no need to be the technically savviest or to use expensive programmes to create a portfolio. There are also online website and platforms to help you in this, for instance:
- Prexi: – www.prezi.com
- 10+ Best Free Portfolio Website Tools & Templates in 2020: – https://designshack.net/articles/software/free-portfolio-website/
- 8 top tools for creating a portfolio: – https://www.creativebloq.com/features/8-top-tools-for-creating-a-portfolio
- Squarespace: – www.squarespace.com
- Format: – http://www.format.com/
- Top 23 Free Online Portfolio Websites to Create Perfect UX/UI Design Portfolios: – www.mockplus.com/blog/post/free-online-portfolio-websites
- 20 Tools to Showcase Your Portfolio – Mashable: – https://mashable.com/2013/09/17/online-portfolio/?europe=true
- Create an Online Portfolio with Jimdo – https://www.jimdo.com/website/portfolio/
- 10 Tools to Create Online Student Portfolios: – www.gettingsmart.com/2016/01/10-tools-to-create-online-student-portfolios/
- 9 Best Portfolio Website Builders: – https://www.websitebuilderexpert.com/website-builders/best/portfolio/
You can also create infographics online, for instance at:
- Venngage: – https://venngage.com
- Piktochat: – https://piktochart.com/formats/infographics/
- Easel.ly: – https://snappa.com/
- Animaker: – https://www.animaker.com/infographics
- BeFunky: – https://www.befunky.com/
- Infogram: – https://infogram.com/
- Mind the Graph: – https://mindthegraph.com/
- Biteable: – https://biteable.com/infographic/
There are also plenty of websites to download icons for different skills for free, for instance:
- Icons8: – https://icons8.com/icons
- Flaticon: – https://www.flaticon.com/most-downloaded
- IconArchive: – http://www.iconarchive.com/tag/download
- Iconfinder: – https://www.iconfinder.com/search/?q=download
- Freeicons: – https://freeicons.io/
- Streamline icons: – https://streamlineicons.com/
- Vecteezy: – https://www.vecteezy.com/free-vector/icons
- Feather icons: – https://feathericons.com/
Examples of Existing Portfolios
You can see examples of different kinds of portfolios for different academic sectors, professions and employment history to inspire you on the Reboot Pinterest account: www.pinterest.com/rebootproject2020
And on the list below:
- Portfolio Ian Felton: – https://www.slideshare.net/kmhelmin/personal-brand-consultant-brand-book
- Personal Brand Consultant Brand Book: – https://www.slideshare.net/kmhelmin/personal-brand-consultant-brand-book
- 28 amazing design portfolios to inspire you: – https://www.creativebloq.com/portfolios/examples-712368
- 50 of the Best Personal Website and Portfolio Examples in 2019: – https://collegeinfogeek.com/personal-website-examples//
- BEST VIDEO CV EVER by MARK LERUSTE: – https://youtu.be/c_PZTAW5piQ
- Mattias Larsson [Film CV]: – https://youtu.be/d-nxFHYsxN0
- A magazine style resume that gave a job without an interview: – https://digitalsynopsis.com/buzz/gq-magazine-cover-design-sumukh-mehta-resume/
- Travel writing portfolio by Kristie Hayden: – https://www.clippings.me/kristiehayden
- Writing portfolio news by Jake Bleiberg: – https://www.clippings.me/jakebleiberg
- Psychology Portfolio by Hannah Marie on Prezi: – https://prezi.com/yu7ax9vh1vqt/psychology-portfolio/
- Paralegal Portfolio by Stephanie Bowman: – You can now move onto the skills modules and think about examples of when you have demonstrated these soft skills.
You can now move onto the skills modules and think about examples of when you have demonstrated these soft skills.