Got your portfolio ready?

Burbank, California; March,2003;
Joan Marques, MBA, Doctoral Student

When I recently had to update my portfolio, I decided that it would be a good idea to perform a mini search on the Internet in order to find out whether I was doing it right anyway. My general findings are shared with you below:

First of all, your portfolio is really one of the basics you need if you are anywhere between 18 and 60 years old and need to work for your daily bread. It does not matter what job you currently perform in or what position you have at the moment: you never know when you will be out in the market again given our current insecure economy. However, when that moment strikes, you want to be ready to sell yourself! A portfolio is therefore an extremely essential document to you.

So what does a portfolio consist of? In fact, it all depends. It hangs together with the group of people you are targeting in order to sell yourself, and the work environment you're moving in. However, there are some general power points to be incorporated in a portfolio, which, in my opinion, are:

1. A good, updated picture of yourself. Clear and professional. This enhances trust within those who see your portfolio even before they meet you in person.

2. A mission statement: what do you stand for; what do you believe in, and how do you plan to reach your goals? This statement should be brief: no longer than one or two paragraphs. A nice idea could be to include the picture, the mission statement, and perhaps your highest education on one presentation sheet, to be placed as eye catcher in the portfolio.

3. Your résumé. As you may already know, this is where you include a more detailed overview of your career, your education, your strengths, and other noteworthy achievements.

4. A sample of your work if available. Are you a draughtsman? Include a copy of one of your draughts! One that you are proud of, of course! Are you a teacher? Include a few positive comments about yourself from your students! Everything that can enhance the picture of reliability is appropriate.

5. You can also include a brief, schematic description of your work style. For instance, as a teacher you can state what your lecturing style is, and what you consider important in your interaction with students. As a nurse you may do that with regards to your patients, and as a counter clerk you may pertain it to your clients.

6. Letters of recommendation are also a nice addition to your portfolio: they indicate who can be contacted for a better overview of your capacities.

7. Your business card! Most portfolio-folders have a special marked space for inserting a business card. It is always advisable to have a set of up-to-date business cards with adequate information about yourself at hand, but if not, life has been made fairly easy for us these days anyway. All you need is a computer program that enables business card-development, and you purchase the pre-cut paper at one of the local office supply stores. Voila! Business cards can be ready within the hour!

The list can be extended endlessly from here, but I think you got the portfolio idea now in case you did not before. It's all about including those things that matter in the snapshot you want to provide about yourself. Even certificates and diploma?s are sometimes included.

However, don't add too much! Especially not if you're arranging a give-away portfolio. People easily get bored with too much paper. Try to keep it within the intuitive range of acceptability. And make sure it looks professional! There are plenty of reasonably priced folders in all office supply stores. So start creating your portfolio! It's this little effort that will make your self-sales run like a train!