What is a career portfolio? And do you need one?

Don’t know what a career portfolio is or if you actually need one while job-hunting for your first marketing job? This blog post is for you.

For a long time, creating a portfolio didn’t even cross my mind. This was because I thought that portfolios were only for creatives. It wasn’t until I started working with a recruiting agency that I pulled together a portfolio. And even then, that initial portfolio was simply a PDF of my graphic design work. But the good news is that I’ve figured it out! And I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

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Here’s what you need to know about whether or not you need a career portfolio:

What is a career portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of work that demonstrates your skills.

Do you need a career portfolio?

The short answer? Yes. If you are applying to a marketing role and you are a recent college graduate, you could really benefit from creating a portfolio. Here’s why:

1. It’s hard to show all of your capabilities on a resume

It’s tough to fully communicate all of the value you can bring to a company when you only have room for a few bullet points.

2. It’s a more concrete way of showing what you can do

Hiring someone simply based on a resume is viewed as a high risk by employers (according to Richard Bolles in What Color is Your Parachute, one of the most popular job-hunting books on the market). So tack on that someone is fresh out of college and doesn’t have previous work experience and you’ve got an even higher risk hire. But a portfolio is a more concrete way of showing what you can do.

What should be in a career portfolio?

This truly depends on the role that you are applying for, the company you are applying to, and whether it is an in-house position or agency position. But in general, your portfolio should display the work that you’re most proud of and is relevant to the job you are applying for — even if it’s a spreadsheet. Here’s an example of something I included in my portfolio during my first post-college job-hunt

Truth be told, this isn’t what it looked like originally. It was just a simple spreadsheet. But because this was going in my portfolio, I prettied it up a bit.

If I could talk to fresh-out-of-college me, I would tell myself to add bullet points explaining what this is and why it is relevant to the job I am applying to.

Next Steps

Now that you understand what a portfolio is, that it can help you stand out from the crowd, and what goes into a portfolio, it’s time to get the bigger picture. Here’s what you need to know about the situations you might use a portfolio. This way, when you are creating your portfolio, you can keep these situations in mind.

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Up next: How and when to use a career portfolio

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