Career Planning Portfolios – Resume on Steroids

Career planning portfolios are like resumes on steroids. They are work related collections you put together to show your abilities, skills and achievements. Career planning portfolios are extremely useful in drafting your resume and can be used as a marketing tool because they are solid evidence of your accomplishments.

Traditionally career planning portfolios have been used by creative artists, actors and photographers. But they can also be used by journalists, business people and anyone who can point to a record of achievements. Achievements can come from anywhere and do not have to be job related. Volunteer work can also be highlighted. Career planning portfolios have become so important to modern job applicants that many high schools and colleges require students to assemble portfolios as a requirement for graduation.

What can career planning portfolios do for you?

o Demonstrate what you have accomplished in previous jobs or assignments, or even as a volunteer.

o Showcase your skills and abilities.

o Give you extra confidence and serve as a reminder as you prepare for an interview.

o And the number one reason that many cite is to use it as a draft or starting point to putting together their resume.

What should be included in career planning portfolios? Of course, this depends on what skills, abilities and accomplishments you want to bring to the potential employer’s attention. Here are some ideas:

(1) Educational transcripts;

(2) All diplomas, degrees and certificates;

(3) Letters of recommendation;

(4) Awards, bonuses and certificates of merit;

(5) Letters of commendation, letters of thanks (It’s a good idea while on the job to keep an “atta-boy” file. Notes, emails, letters that reflect favorably on your abilities should all go into the file. Attach explanations as appropriate);

(6) Newspaper clippings, pictures or magazine articles about your achievements;

(7) Professional licenses, registrations and certificates;

(8) Photographs;

(9) Work performance records and job evaluations;

(10) Programs and agendas from conventions or conferences you helped organize; and

(11) Work samples.

When you are assembling your career planning portfolio, you should keep in mind that portfolios must be flexible, and can be customized to suit the interview or employment situation. There are many options for packaging. Some use photo albums or binders. Others prefer accordion folders. Some portfolios can be stored on disc. If you do use a computer disc, take your own laptop to the interview and be sure the battery is charged.

For completeness be sure to write clear and concise captions for each item contained in your portfolio. The caption should help list the skills used for that particular accomplishment. Example: This is the certificate I was awarded by a local organization for raising $3000 for organizing an awareness walk and run. Next to the certificate can be a photograph of committee members that helped you organize and publicize the event.

Highlight your achievements. The completed portfolio is an excellent first step in drafting your resume. Use specific information whenever possible. What looks better in a resume? You improved morale in the organization or you reduced unwanted turnover by 35% while increasing productivity by 18%. Also, when you prepare for the interview, it’s an excellent tool to remind you of achievement to stress that directly relate to the requirements of the position you are going for. It’s also a good idea to have a table of contents in your portfolio so, if asked; you can easily find the required information.

For information on how to construct a portfolio, check with the Educational Resource Information Center (ERIC). You can also get assistance from the Portfolio Library and other websites that are sponsored by university career centers and offer help to job seekers.