Creating the Portfolio for the Position You Want

zybalaGuest Post By Caroline Zybala

To finish off PWR Seniors week, Caroline Zybala discusses creating portfolios such as the PWR Senior portfolio. 




In today’s competitive job market, everyone is trying to get an edge in order to get a position they desire. No longer are a simple resume and a cover letter the only resources that can be used to prove to an employer that you are worthy of a job or internship. Technology has transformed the average application to one that can truly exhibit your talents and convey your individual personality. Creating an online portfolio to highlight your talents and sample work can be a deciding factor when trying to impress a company or individual. As a current student in the CUPID Studio Class, I am working on developing my own portfolio.

Portfolios are required for Professional Writing and Rhetoric Majors, but every major should take advantage of this concept to elevate their professional deliverables to the next level. A portfolio is simply a collection of work samples that show your skills in the field you are attempting to go into. Having an arsenal of examples to justify claims made in your resume or interview can go far with the individuals looking to hire you. For example, since I want to work in communications, I have an example of a press packet I have completed for a class assignment which demonstrates my ability to create documents specific to the industry.


What is your goal?

When starting to create the portfolio, one first needs to identify a goal for the portfolio. Many are created with the hopes of landing an internship or a job. Others create it to keep all their work organized, or as a requirement for class. Regardless of the reason, there is an end goal for each collection.  It is important to articulate what you are trying to accomplish before you begin to piece things together.

One simple way to do this is to create a personal statement on who you are and where you are attempting to go in life. Based on your major, hard and soft skills, and life ambitions, you can create a short blurb regarding this. Being able to put this in writing will help define the direction your portfolio will take moving forward.

As a double major in Professional Writing and Rhetoric and Strategic Communication, I am looking to potentially work in a public relations firm and create content for clients using the skills I learned in my English classes. Part of my personal statement includes, “I am striving to ultimately find a position that will allow me to use my technical writing knowledge to promote, advertise, or define a company or individual.” Being able to put my goal into a concise statement helps to create a purpose for the portfolio and define the documents that will support this goal.


Who is the audience?

Once you know what you want to accomplish, the next step is to consider your audience. Who are you creating the portfolio for? What are they looking for? What industry are they in? These questions, and others, need to be addressed prior to moving forward. Tailoring the specific content can help your audience view yourself in a positive manner.

When writing content for the portfolio, tone is important to consider. You need to tailor your portfolio with your specific audience in mind. If creating the portfolio for a certain job or opportunity, one can complete some research into the industry to understand the jargon commonly used. Doing this will show the audience that you are aware of the industry and it is not a general portfolio for anything and everything.


How do you Reach the Goal?

Once you have identified your end goal and who will potentially be viewing the portfolio, it is now time to start piecing the portfolio itself together. First, it is important to figure out a logical way to organize the documents and information. Generally speaking, there should be different categories that clearly define and organize the sample work in a manner than is clear to the potential audience. Categories can be created based on audiences, genres, experiences, or anything else that logically groups items together.

You can look at your personal statement to pull words, ideas, or phrase to help organizes your information and examples. It’s important that these two elements match up to ensure you are sending a consistent message throughout the portfolio.

It is important to consider the aesthetic appeal of your portfolio. If you are trying to convey you are a creative person, your design of the portfolio needs to reflect this fact. When creating this item, one should consider color, font, visual elements, alignment, and proximity, just to name a few elements. The appearance needs to be appropriate for the medium it is being delivered in.

Capture1For example, adding color to a relatively simple portfolio can change the overall message. In this example, the individual was able to incorporate color without being obnoxious or overwhelming. The portfolio design needs to be simple to allow the reader to ascertain the necessary information without any difficulty. When beginning to create my own portfolio, I wanted to use colors I felt reflected my personality. I wanted to choose a blue and green color scheme, while keeping it muted in order to keep it professional. There are many tools to help one create a color scheme for online content, so making a decision is a little easier!
The final step is choosing the examples to include within the portfolio. These should be carefully selected to showcase specific skills and experiences that directly relate to your end goal. This content can be from classwork, student organization involvement, past work experiences, or anything else that can be explained to appropriately relate to the purpose of the portfolio.

One needs to realize, items that are included should be examples of the best work created, — these are the documents and examples that are convincing the audience you are worthy of the opportunity you are attempting to obtain.

Utilizing this technology to showcase your best work to your target audience will help elevate your image and personal brand in the professional world. By following these recommendations, you can be one step closer to reaching your goal.

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