Portfolios & Why You Need One

I used to think portfolios were for Designers, Photographers, Artists, and Models. When I heard the word portfolio, I would think of a large, professional binder that held pictures or diagrams. Believing that this was the only purpose of a portfolio, I never made one.

I always had a résumé but never a portfolio. With the job market being fairly competitive, I now know how important it is to have a portfolio. A portfolio is a usually a zipped binder that holds a collection of documents which includes diplomas, certificates, awards, and reference letters. Articles you have written, drawings, and hardcopies of documents you have created or formatted such as class assignments, presentations, and essays are also valuable. A photo of you in action is priceless.

Having a portfolio in addition to a résumé demonstrates professionalism on the part of the candidate. Taking the time to create and submit a portfolio signals to employers a serious attitude about work, and a willingness to make an investment in the application process.

While a résumé lists experience, a portfolio demonstrates it. Potential employers will see exactly what you’ve done and get a complete picture of your talent and abilities. A strong portfolio can make up for a weak résumé.

Portfolios help employers separate candidates. When many candidates have similar educational backgrounds and qualifications on paper, a portfolio can be a deciding factor for some employers.

A portfolio also shows prospective employers your ability to present ideas in an organized fashion. A portfolio demonstrates that you have organizational skills. Assembling your portfolio prepares you for potential interviews.

Completing a portfolio can renew self-confidence and increase feelings of accomplishment.

I can say this because I just completed my first portfolio!

Laurie Carter is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Workplace Leadership portfolioCertificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.siino@mohawkcollege.ca.

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