Why a portfolio is important for your career

November 26, 2018

A portfolio can be an important tool for your career – whether you’re currently job seeking or not.

We talked to Melody Kruzic, Capella University Career Center Senior Career Counselor, to learn more about this important career asset.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a compilation of work samples and professional documentation that provides proof of your accomplishments or samples of your work. It can be a physical book or binder that organizes samples of your work, or an online portfolio with electronic files.


When and why do you use portfolios?

Portfolios are a great way to demonstrate the competencies you would list on a resume or talk about in an interview — they allow you to show and not just tell. During a job search, the portfolio showcases your work to potential employers. It presents evidence of your relevant skills and abilities. Portfolios are also helpful for independent contractors, consultants, or business owners who need to provide work samples to potential clients.

Outside of a job or client search, archiving samples of your work to a portfolio is a great way to keep track of your accomplishments and make note of when you acquired key competencies. Having it all together in a portfolio can be useful during your yearly review or helpful if you decide to go for a promotion. It can take quite a while to put together a portfolio, so make sure it’s up-to-date to prepare you for unexpected situations like layoffs and sudden changes to your job.

What jobs or industries typically use portfolios?

Certain professions typically use portfolios to showcase their work. Artists, interior designers, cake decorators, graphic designers, writers, teachers, architects, and others in visual professions have been documenting their work in portfolios for years. Today, any professional in any industry can and should consider starting a portfolio.

What do you put in a portfolio?

Anything that demonstrates your accomplishments and abilities should go into your portfolio. Think you don’t have anything to put in a portfolio? Think again. What major projects have you worked on recently or over the years? Select some of the deliverables associated with it, and add it to your portfolio.

Here are some items you may be able to include in your portfolio:

  • Current resume or CV
  • Diplomas, certificates, and transcripts from post-high school institutions
  • Reference letters, awards, testimonials, and LinkedIn recommendations
  • Work samples that you have created, for example:
    • Curricula
    • Proposals
    • Marketing materials
    • Spreadsheets or reports
    • PowerPoint presentations
    • Graphics or layouts
    • Database infrastructure
    • Project plans
  • Evaluations and/or performance appraisals
  • Published articles and writing samples
  • Link to blog or sample of blog post
  • Thank you notes or e-mails from clients or co-workers

Should you have a physical portfolio or an online portfolio?

Whether you go with a physical or electronic version of your portfolio depends on a number of factors, including your industry and personal preference. See what’s common with your peers. Consider which version you would prefer to maintain on an ongoing basis. If you decide to go with an online portfolio, it may still be a good idea to have some hard copy samples of your work to leave behind after an interview. Make sure you follow up with a link to your full portfolio if you didn’t already provide it.

How do you create a portfolio?

For online portfolios, you can build your own website from scratch or use a web-based portfolio builder. Just enter “online portfolio websites” or “online portfolio builder” into your favorite search engine and you’ll get loads to choose from.

If you want to be found by employers, using LinkedIn as an electronic portfolio could be a good option. LinkedIn often shows high up in online searches which is helpful in building your online brand.

At Capella, certain degree programs (including our online MBA) incorporate or require the use of an ePortfolio platform. This software allows our students to create individualized links for different employers or social media sites and provides tracking information about what is being viewed.

For hard-copy portfolios, you can use anything from a simple three-ring binder to a professional, leather-bound padfolio. It’s best to organize your physical portfolio into tabbed sections that demonstrate different key competencies or showcase your work by type or topic.

Get your portfolio ready today

Now that you know the value of a portfolio for your career, get started on making your very own. By organizing the evidence of your accomplishments and competencies, you’ll be prepared to have smart and informed conversations about your career at any time.

Build an ePortfolio based on the real-world solutions you develop in your coursework as you earn an online Master of Business Administration from Capella.





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