Creating a stand-out work portfolio


A portfolio with real examples of your work communicates more than just the quality of your work. It demonstrates your passion and commitment to your profession.

Let’s take a closer look at what a work portfolio is and how to create one.


What is a work portfolio?

A work portfolio is a collection of the best examples of your work, regardless of the type of work you do.  A work portfolio gives credibility to your résumé and cover letter.


The benefits of  creating a portfolio 

Remember that interviewers use portfolios to spot a stand-out applicant. Most jobseekers know that if you invested the time to learn about the company and craft a custom résumé, you are likely to at least get a phone interview. In this job climate, a lot of people have caught on to this, and the Internet and word processors now make it easy to do some quick research and create a tailored version of your functional résumé.

A work portfolio brings your résumé to life and sets you apart from other applicants. A portfolio shows the interviewer that you will contribute to the job beyond what is required.


What should you put in a portfolio?

1) A copy of your complete functional résumé. You can refer to your functional résumé when you get asked questions about the extent of your experience or need to refresh your memory. It  is also a great way to show the level of your skills, the breadth of your skill base, and the depth of your experience.

2) Examples or representative samples of your work. These clearly show you have done what is on your résumé and show your level of skill and quality. Include real examples of your work: writing samples such as published articles, journal papers, press releases, newsletters and reports; photographs or real product samples; brochures and patents; letters of commendation.

3) A brief list of key projects you led or worked on that are related to the job. This list highlights all the special things you have done, especially those which fall outside your normal job responsibilities but show what a valuable employee you would be. Projects that required troubleshooting or crisis management skills demonstrate how well you produce results under pressure.

Once you have this information gathered, assemble it into a three-ring binder or portfolio case.


Caveats of using a portfolio during an interview

Displaying a portfolio can create a great opportunity to talk about all your experience and skills. But, remember that a great portfolio can change the entire mood and rhythm of an interview. The hiring manager can become so curious about your portfolio and what you can offer that time flies and you miss out on hearing a detailed description of the job or being able to ask questions to see if you are seriously interested in it.

It is always wise to first ask the hiring manager if you may distribute your portfolio, especially during panel interviews. Panel interviews usually have predetermined questions that take a lot of time to complete. Use your time wisely.



A work portfolio is a great asset to the experienced worker. Once you create a portfolio, continue to add pertinent information and be sure to update any lists.


Tammy McIntyre is owner of McIntyre Employment Service, an agency providing individuals and small businesses with career development services. She welcomes reader responses to tammy@mcintyre