Building Your Portfolio for Career Success

Building Your Portfolio for Career Success

Whether you want to apply for promotion, look for another opportunity in your present company, move on and get another job, get into another industry sector, you need to be sure what it is you have to offer. This is what I call your Portfolio. It’s a bit like an artist who puts all their best works in a folder so they can show prospective clients. You need to do the same so you can show your prospective new boss.

What should you put in your portfolio?

Your portfolio highlights all the best things about you and your experience to date

It should include:

your personal qualities eg reliability, innovative, conscientious

your skills eg good communicator, excellent typist, can build high-level relationships, can resolve complex problems

your key experiences – these will be from your present job and from past jobs of course but should also include relevant experience from outside work (like home and voluntary work)

How can you build your portfolio?

You need to write it all down. This may sound simplistic but it’s amazing how many people forget or most likely don’t recognise how skilful they are and what a lot they have to offer.

1 Go through all your present and past successes and ask yourself what does that say about you as a person and as an employee.

For example, if you worked in a customer service role it is likely that you have had to deal with difficult, maybe aggressive people whilst trying to help and maintain the reputation of your organisation. What does this say about you?

Qualities – patience, respect, persistence

Skills – communication techniques to diffuse aggression, customer service

Experience – successful handling of difficult people (on the telephone or face-to-face or both)

2 Show your lists to a trusted friend or colleague; someone who has known you for a while and who wants the best for you would be a good choice. Ask them to make three lists like you’ve done.

3 Compare the lists you made with your friend’s. Add items to your list that you hadn’t even thought of (there are bound to be some!).

4 Update your CV and other profiles, to reflect the contents of your portfolio

What’s the best way to ‘display’ your portfolio?

This involves some strategic thinking and depends on what your objective is.

If you want to stay in your present company but find a more suitable opportunity:

Get clear about your objective.

Make it known to the appropriate people what your objective is and why

Find a mentor who can help you get where you want to be and ask their opinion on your portfolio

Check for gaps in your portfolio that you need to fill to get your ideal job

If you want to apply for other opportunities outside your company:

Get clear about your objective.

Research the market for suitable openings

Contact agencies and present your portfolio to them

Write speculative letters to companies you would like to work for and present your portfolio

When you complete application forms, use your portfolio as your source document


Don’t wait. Start building your Portfolio today.