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Resume & Cover Letter Writing: Job Search Portfolios

 

What is a Job Search Portfolio?
Broadly, a portfolio is a collection of works used to show one’s capabilities to others. Thus, from the perspective of the applicant, the portfolio is a tool one can use to market oneself. However, from the perspective of the prospective employer, a portfolio serves as an evaluation tool for identifying the best candidate for a given position.

When should a Job Search Portfolio be used?
Such variables as your industry or profession, the employer’s hiring processes, the job market at a given time, etc. will dictate whether a portfolio will be useful in the job search. It is safe to say that usually, unless specifically requested by an employer, a portfolio will not be a part of the initial application and screening process. More conventional materials like the resume, cover letter, and/or job application are most often used in the initial selection process. However, when interviewing, attending a career fair, networking, or simply keeping yourself current about your own qualifications and accomplishments, having a portfolio and the process of assembling and maintaining it can be of immense value.

What formats are available for a Job Search Portfolio?
Traditionally, portfolios have been a collection of paper materials organized in a professional binder with page protectors and labeled tabs. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) or digital portfolios. You may choose to employ one or both of these options

Basics                   

  1. Resume                            
  2. Official transcript                            
  3. Letters of recommendation

Table of Contents
Clearly outlines sections for easy finding. Depending on your major and career field, sections may be organized by skill clusters:      

Portfolios for the field of Communication may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Writing                                         
  2. Layout                                  
  3. Broadcasting      
  4. Computer Graphics                  
  5. Design                                  
  6. Public Relations

Portfolios for the field of Education may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Lesson Plans by Unit  Evaluations                         
  2. Classroom Management Philosophy

Artifacts Pertaining to Formal and Informal Education and Training

Portfolios for the field of Communication may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Brochures describing training events, retreats, workshops, clinics, lecture series
  2. Certificate of mastery or completion, lists of competencies mastered, and/or licenses
  3. Grants, loans, scholarships secured for schooling
  4. Samples from classes (papers, projects, reports, displays, video/computer samples)
  5. Samples from personal studies (notes, binders, products)
  6. Syllabi or course descriptions for classes and workshops
  7. Transcripts, report cards

Portfolios for the field of Education may include, but is not limited to:

  1. Philosophy of education
  2. Sample lesson plans
  3. List of classroom management strategies
  4. Videotape of classroom teaching (made available)
  5. Any education-related research project
  6. Individual case study
  7. Teaching unit (photos of projects, bulletin boards, and kids [with permission] can be applicable here if tied in with unit)Samples of other classroom work

Artifacts Demonstrating General Work Performance
Descriptive material about the organization or class projects: 

  1. Writing samples from a past position, internship, or class project (press release, feature stories, public service announcement, newsletter, news or radio script, speech script, etc.)
  2. Creative samples (print advertisement, newsletter, web page design, newspaper layout design, etc.)

Artifacts about Skills Using Data

  1. Communication pieces (memos, reports, or documents, a public service announcement)
  2. Writing abilities, demonstrated in actual samples of your writing (articles, proposals) 
  3. Display or Performance materials (actual objects, or illustrations, or posters from displays)
  4. Computer related (any materials created from InDesign, PhotoShop, etc. that demonstrate your knowledge of the programs, desktop publishing documents, samples from using the Internet, computer video screen pictures or manuals covers illustrating programs you use)
  5. Formal and technical documents as in grant or loan applications (include proposal cover sheet or award letter), technical manual

Artifacts Pertaining To People Skills

  1. People and leadership skills (projects or committees you share, projects you initiated, photos of you with important people, mentoring programs, proposals, strategies related to negotiation)
  2. Planning Samples (summary of steps, instruments used such as surveys or focus groups)
  3. Problem solving illustrated with various artifacts. Use figures or pictures showing improvements in products, services, profits, safety, quality, time. Include forms used to solve problems

Artifacts from a Complete Project

  1. Feature samples from an “all encompassing” project where you demonstrate seeing a project from beginning to end (any project from an internship or capstone class like Advertising/PR Campaigns)
  2. This sample should allow you to define the problem, define the target audience, the value proposition, and the resulting work at the end.