A professional portfolio is a collection of your life's work up until this point. It tells employers anything and everything about your past employment, giving them insight into your work ethic and past experience. Employers love to see that you've put the time into creating a professional portfolio to ‘sell' yourself. No matter what your profession, here are some tips to help you create a stellar professional portfolio.
Find a great way to display your portfolio. Before you start putting your professional portfolio together, you should decide how you're going to display it. Most people prefer to purchase a nice binder (preferably with a leather look) that has the ability to hold 3-ring plastic page protectors. Find one that is an appropriate size for the number of documents you want to include in your professional portfolio. (Check your local office store for the widest selection of professional binders.)
Gather your documents. In your professional portfolio, you want to include documents that illustrate your accomplishments related to the job you're applying for, along with your overall work history. First insert your cover letter and résumé, and then find any training certificates, official qualification documents, and any annual evaluations. It's also a good idea to include letters of recommendation, successful projects you were a part of, and anything else you are proud of and want to show off to potential employers.
If you are a teacher, the professional portfolio you create can also include items related to your past teaching experience. Start off by including your approach to education, or what some call your ‘educational philosophy'. It's basically your beliefs about how students can and should learn in modern classrooms, and your approach to helping all students find success. In addition, put in some favorite lesson plans that really show off your teaching style. Also include pictures of your students at work, different work areas or bulletin boards in your classroom that illustrate your approach to teaching, as well as samples of student work. Administrators prefer to see examples of what kind of a teacher you are rather than just hear you talk, so the more you can include in your professional portfolio, the better.
Don't be humble. When you create your professional portfolio, it's not a time to be humble. You need to show off to get the job! Talk about past experiences that have been quite successful for you. Discuss times that you have outdone yourself. Don't sound arrogant, but be prepared to relay a few of your proudest moments and accomplishments to those interviewing you.
Don't forget your portfolio! Now that you've created your professional portfolio, it's important to carry it with you wherever you go. Sure, it can be a bit cumbersome. But it is great for supporting your answers during an interview, and it will take the eyes off of you and put them onto your portfolio. Remember to continually update your portfolio so that it's always ready for interviews and job fairs. You never know when that professional portfolio you create will be needed to help you land your dream job!