I am pleased to respond to my reader’ requests to write another article on creating your professional portfolio since the interest in this topic is so obviously high. It is rewarding to learn that my earlier article has sparked an interest in learning more about this process.
Please note that it is important that you prepare ‘both a hard and soft copy’ to aid you in your career development now, and into the future. The time to prepare these tools is NOW while you are gainfully employed – please keep this point in mind.
Assembling a ‘digital’ portfolio will make this process easier for some of you, although as mentioned, you still need to prepare a hard copy as well, which you can place in a binder or leather pouch. It is not necessary to invest a great deal of money on the packaging, as of course, the contents are far more important, and a new, attractive binder will certainly suffice.
Additionally, by preparing both a hard and soft copy, it permits leaving a hard copy with the prospective firms; at your discretion. You will know if it is appropriate to do so. I would not suggest giving away your digital package, unless of course, it is ‘specifically’ requested.
I would suggest that in preparing your digital version, you include a colour photo with your name and current title or the title of your desired role on the cover of the CD casing for the benefit of those who will be storing and viewing it.
Alternatively, you could use a ‘provocative graphic’ for your CD cover, preferably of your own design, and include your professional photo again in the introduction of the portfolio. Be sure to ‘Dress for Success’ in these photos.
Be sure you present your documents in a logical order that makes sense when printed out for viewing and discussion, and run a print or two before finalizing your CD.
Make effective use of ‘colour’ as much as practical, as this makes content more memorable, versus black and white, particularly when using proper graphics within text bodies. Once you have completed your ‘master’ copy, you can ‘burn’ the required number of copies for your intended marketing audience. For instance, you may want to start out with 15 copies in your career arsenal.
When creating your digital version of your portfolio, be sure to remove the ‘personal properties’ of all documents, before converting over to PDF, and burning to CD. This is a ‘crucial’ step.
As you are likely aware, these properties may be read if someone chooses to do so, regardless of the ‘security’ settings in place on the PDF version. The conversion to PDF will enhance the aesthetics of your presentation, as well as save valuable space on your CD, particularly if you have a large quantity of graphics material. Make sure you have ‘protected’ your pdf before sharing with anyone.
Again, be sure to ‘edit’ any confidential information; such as company name, client names, etc., indicated in any of your documentation by changing your text colour to ‘white’ and ‘hiding’ the text, or replacing the text with symbols. You must demonstrate and maintain total integrity in this regard, which will be most appreciated and understood by your audience.
Suggested documents to include in your digital portfolio:
- professional portfolio introduction with your ‘colour’ photo;
- capsule profile or short bio (versus long CV);
- graphics and charts you have created for special projects; such as Excel, Visio, or PowerPoint;
- marketing or advertising materials that you have created for various forms of media;
- include ‘short’ publications that have been ‘authored’ and ‘published solely’ by yourself;
- written acknowledgments from local superiors and/or head office;
- certainly, include all ‘reference letters’ and ‘thank you’ letters;
- prepare a listing of ‘current’ references with all pertinent contact information including cell, email, etc., (get permission first!); and
- create a list of your ‘top accomplishments’ achieved in your current and past roles.
Your own published articles and accomplishments can be elaborated upon during your in-office meeting for a potential promotion, as well as your job interviews at a suitable time in your discussions.
If you have created a method for your firm’ business development pursuits, or perhaps process strategies for administrative teams, include these topics in your discussions, rather than sharing them in written form within your portfolios.
However, I would suggest that you do not disclose ‘all’ aspects of any of your ideas until such time as you are feeling comfortable and secure in your new role within your current firm, or your new career.