What Is the Definition of a Professional Portfolio?

Businesspeople looking at portfolio
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What is the definition of a professional portfolio? In short, it provides employers with a complete picture of a candidate applying for a job. Professional portfolios include your experiences, accomplishments, skills, education, interests, and professional goals and objectives. With this overview, learn what portfolios offer that resumes and cover letters don't. A portfolio may be just what you need to edge out the competition. 

Portfolios Are More Thorough Than Resumes

Just because a resume and cover letter helped you land a job in the past doesn't mean that you wouldn't benefit from a professional portfolio. Why? They are much more comprehensive than the traditional resume and cover letter combo. In fact, portfolios are so beneficial that many interns and job candidates bring them to their first interview. Doing so enables the employer to see an in-depth summary of what you have accomplished.

They Are Particularly Helpful in Certain Careers

If you're interested in pursuing a career in, say, nursing, a portfolio may not be especially helpful during your job search. However, portfolios are quite suitable for certain professions, including education, art, graphic design, theater and writing jobs. If you're an educator, use your portfolio to show a prospective employers samples of your lesson plans or projects you've assigned in class. If you're an artist, there's nothing better than a portfolio to show off your talent. And if you're a journalist, you can use a portfolio to show off your best writing samples.

Portfolios may be used for other careers as well.

There are no hard and fast rules about which fields best lend themselves to a professional portfolio. Even if you're not in one of the careers mentioned above, by all means, piece together a portfolio if you think it will help you get your foot in a door. And, remember, in the 21st century, a portfolio doesn't necessarily mean a heavy book that writers and artists lug around with them. Many professionals today now use online portfolios, which are helpful because scores of people apply for jobs online rather than in person.

If you're unsure whether a potential employer will check out your portfolio, include a link to it both in your cover letter and in your email signature. 

They Make an Impression

Taking the time to develop a high-quality portfolio can be the deciding factor that puts you ahead of the pack. Rather than only hearing about your success, a professional portfolio shows an employer what you have done. The proof is in the pudding, and portfolios provide examples to employers of your best work.

Portfolios can help you to make a good first impression and shows the employer that you are serious about the job. It is key if you have more talent than actual work experience in your field.

Although creating a portfolio will take some creativity and time, once it’s been developed it only takes minimal effort to keep it current and up to date.