The importance of developing a Career Portfolio More often than not when being interviewed, companies will ask for certain „extra‟ information that may back-up or prove what you have stated on your CV or mentioned whilst answering their questions. These documents form part of your career experience and in most instances are an assessment to your competencies. Before embarking on your job search strategy – the most important thing you can do is start developing a job skills portfolio. Research shows that less than 15 percent of job seekers locally have an updated career portfolio, if one at all. A career portfolio is not a CV, but a collection of visual examples/documents that illustrate your experience, education, accomplishments, and skills. Not only is it a “living document” but also an excellent tool to be used for securing career advancement. There are many reasons why we should all have a portfolio, one being that if utilised correctly it could prove to be an invaluable career planning and self evaluation tool - from students newly entering the job market, to employees in transition or even those applying for a promotional opportunity or participating in a job evaluation. There is no right or wrong way to develop your Career Portfolio as it is a personalised representation of your career history. It can be 20 pages or 100 pages. It does not have to be an expensive project either – a plastic file or binder will do just as well as a fancy leather folder, - the content not the packaging holds value. Every portfolio should include: A title page or an introduction explaining the purpose of the portfolio., A table of contents, An organizational system of tabs or dividers to separate the various sections, Descriptive labels to identify each document. A portfolio should comprise mainly of a collection of samples of your work, self-assessment records, current activities and projects, resume/CV, job descriptions, copies of covering letters, letters of recommendation/references, certificates, diplomas, degrees and awards, records of any volunteer work, professional memberships, networking contacts, newspaper clippings featuring you, letters of appreciation and any significant photographs. Remember this is your personal collection and therefore you can be as creative as you would like to be – most folks realise only after having completed a project like this just how diverse and transferable their skills capabilities truly are and this confidence often leads them to exploring other more desired career paths. The benefits of developing a comprehensive portfolio are tenfold namely: Excellent toolkit for career pathing. It‟s a great aid in assisting in job interview preparations, Can be used to convince others of your abilities and achievements, It acts as a showcase for your skills, It will demonstrate the results of all your hard work. Can help you create a habit of documenting your accomplishments and results, Allows you to formulate a personal data base and networking structure. Every effort should be made to keep the information updated regularly, thus ensuring current competencies are being frequently assessed along with your core values and aspirations.. A portfolio can be taken into in an interview and used as a demonstrative tool or as a referral basis to showcase your experience. Do not send out your portfolio when applying for a job, that is the function of a CV/resume. If there is one thing you do today – start working on your own personal career portfolio (either alone or with a group of friends) – it‟s a journey you will never regret taking and you may be pleasantly surprised when you realise just how much knowledge you have acquired over the years and how you can more effectively utilise these skills in your future.
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