A great tool for developing your career, which is only now gaining popularity, is the career portfolio. A career portfolio is an evolving collection of documents showing your professional development, work history, qualifications and accomplishments. It can be used both as a self-marketing tool and as a personal reminder of your progress over time.
You can draw on your career portfolio for performance reviews, or when you are applying to an internal job posting, requesting a promotion or raise, searching for new employment or securing consulting contracts. It can also be used as a resource when preparing or updating your resume. Essentially, it is your career DNA — a visual, documented record of the evolution of your career.
You may want to keep the contents of your career portfolio in a binder, a “holding place” that can be continually added to as you progress through your career. Your career portfolio will become an excellent reference tool from which to draw, no matter what direction your career future takes.
Here’s a partial checklist of what to include in your portfolio:
- Detailed summaries of past work experiences, including key responsibilities, accomplishments and successes
- Copies of past job descriptions and project outlines
- A detailed list of your qualifications, education and training
- Copies of all certificates, degrees, professional designations and workshops
- Lists and details regarding volunteer and community activities
- Copies of reference letters, testimonials and performance reviews
- Samples of projects, reports, articles or publications
Use this checklist as a guide as you collect the information and documents needed to create your career portfolio. You may want to create tabs or dividers for your portfolio binder using some or all of the listed items. Collect the information and contents required for your portfolio from your files, personal documents and by requesting information from your current and past employers.