Beyond Resumes: When You Need A Portfolio, And How To Keep One

Knowing when and how to use a professional portfolio can make the difference between finding a job and landing your dream career.

Getting your dream job means showing a potential employer how you can help expand their organization. While many people think that a well-crafted resume will do the trick, this often doesn't get you past the first interview. Depending on the type of job you hope to land, you may need more than a stellar resume.

Being able to show a potential employer a portfolio of your work can certainly be an impressive way to get your foot in the door. In fact, having a portfolio is considered a requirement for many jobs. Knowing how to keep a portfolio and knowing when to actually use one can give you a head's up for that perfect job.

When you need a portfolio

For many, the idea of taking a portfolio to a job interview conjures up an image of a guy in a suit carrying a large case into an advertising agency. However, there are many other types of jobs where a portfolio can be a good thing.

Certainly, any position in advertising or marketing requires a portfolio. Even if the position that you want is not exactly designing million-dollar campaigns, being able to show a potential employer that you understand concepts of marketing will give you a leg up. Also, showing a potential employer what you have worked on in black and white, rather than in words alone, adds substance and legitimacy to your prior experience.

In addition to marketing or advertising, any position where you are designing something""from arts to industrial design""truly needs a portfolio. Again, showing a potential employer what you have done, from designing the layout of a room to designing the details of a home electrical system, can be used to impress your next boss.

What to keep in your portfolio

So, now that you realize that a portfolio may be what you need to land that dream job, you need to figure out what to keep in that portfolio. Knowing what is important for a portfolio will ensure that your portfolio looks professional, which can only serve to make you look more professional.

If you are doing anything where you design on paper, from being a writer to designing brochures or print layouts, you definitely need to hold on to everything you create. Now, this does not mean that everything you have done should be placed in a portfolio for display. This simply means that keeping all of your work will allow you to choose relevant examples of your work and tailor your portfolio to each situation.

If your profession requires you to work in the realm of 3-D, then having pictures of your work is a must. Take pictures of each job with a good camera. Showing employers a photo is not enough. Make sure that the photo is in focus, and that the image is pleasing to the eye. Don't make others have to turn the picture around and upside-down before they can figure out what they are looking at.

How to Display the Portfolio

Now, you know that you need a portfolio, and you have kept examples of your work. The final thing to be done is put together a professional way to show your portfolio. Even if you have examples of work that would impress the harshest critic, if it is displayed in an unappealing way, all of your trouble can be for nothing.

If your portfolio consists of print samples, the best way to display them is by mounting them onto hard black cardboard. Each piece should be mounted in the center of each board. Each board should be the same size regardless of what is displayed. This will create a uniform and professional look.

If you are using photos to show your experience, the same thing goes. However, each photo should be blown up to a size that can be viewed by everybody at once. You do not want to be passing individual photos around a room.

Of course, a more modern, trendy way to display your portfolio is on a web site. Using a web site can be great because a potential employer can easily visit your site even before they decide if they want to call you for an interview.

If you are going to use the web site, however, make sure that the design is professional and pleasing. A great portfolio can be made null and void by a bad web site layout. Also, if you use a web site, be sure that you use a domain name ( rather than lower level web space ( It will be easier for a potential employer to view and even remember a domain name""and it will look more professional.

Now that you know how to make and use a portfolio, get out there and let a portfolio help you land your dream job!

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