We have all spent hours carefully constructing our professional resumes in hopes of sending them through our dream job’s online application process and getting noticed. Yet, sometimes your resume isn’t enough to win over recruiters and hiring managers. Instead of letting your resume slip through the cracks, take a step towards getting noticed with the newest job-seeking trend: a candidate portfolio.

Candidate portfolios have long existed for those working in creative fields such as photography or design. It is regarded as a space to showcase your skills that cannot be translated into brief sentences on paper (i.e., sketches, photographs, writing samples). However, in recent years, candidates from all fields of work have found that they, too, have skills that are not properly displayed through the traditional resume. A candidate portfolio has become an exciting and useful addition to anyone’s resume, regardless of the industry. Read on to have all your questions about candidate portfolios answered!

What exactly is a candidate portfolio?

A candidate portfolio is made up of any material used in an application or an interview that supplements your resume and cover letter. Most online job applications provide an area to submit additional documents, which is the perfect place for your portfolio. Additionally, bringing a portfolio to an interview adds something memorable and valuable to your time spent with a potential employer. It is important to note that there is no replacement for a polished resume and cover letter. You might have an excellent portfolio-but no one will look at it without a resume!

What do I put in my candidate portfolio?

The answer to this question changes from person to person depending on your industry, prior experience, and job interest. Your portfolio should consist of items that show your skills and experiences rather than just describing them. Here are some examples of what to include in a portfolio depending on the industry:

Accountant/Financial Roles: charts, tables, and other graphic representations of information you’ve processed, non-confidential financial statements and budgets, certifications received from educational institutions or accounting/finance authorities, performance awards given by employers or relevant organizations and publications

Legal Roles: Examples of case studies and research, academic and legal writing samples, performance awards given by legal organizations, publications, or previous employers, features in legal publications, client testimonials, exceptional pro-bono work recognition

Administrative Roles: samples of any material you have designed, such as brochures or informational pamphlets, recognition and recommendations from previous employers, a comprehensive list of the databases and software you are proficient in, company articles that you have been featured in or authored, certificates received from company training programs, attendance, and performance awards

Portfolio_Body_Image.pngWhat if I just graduated?

If you are in your last year of college or have just graduated and are now looking for a full-time job, your portfolio may be a bit different than the examples above. Before taking on your first full-time job, your portfolio will want to consist of transcripts (only if you received above a 3.0 average GPA and did well in major courses), projects which showcase an understanding of your major, letters of reference or recommendation, and items produced at previous internships. Even though you recently graduated and haven’t necessarily had a full-time job yet, you still have completed important work that you can display to potential employers.

How do I put a physical portfolio together to bring to interviews?

The easiest way to assemble a physical portfolio is by using sheet protectors and a binder. If you are in a field that allows you to apply for several different job functions this may be a good option because it enables you to add and remove information as you please. However, you may also have your portfolio bound at a print shop; this will look more professional and allow interviewers to review the portfolio later without having to hold onto an entire binder. If you want to take your physical portfolio one step further and wow your interviewer, consider having it printed and bound by a portfolio site (like this one). Your portfolio should be ten pages or less (unless you are in a creative field) to keep things succinct and to the point.

Providing a candidate portfolio can give insight to potential employers about your true value, which can be easily overlooked with a traditional resume. Just remember that if a certain piece of work or information does not add meaningful content to your candidate profile, omit it from your portfolio! Unless you are applying to a job with a very standard job function, both your electronic and physical portfolio should be tailored to each potential job to which you are applying. Before submitting your next application or arriving at your next interview, be sure to take time to compile your best work in a comprehensive portfolio.


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