Tell me how to create my portfolio

Guide to Portfolio Creation, (on paper or on-line via OptimalResume or Blackboard)

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a visual representation of your talents, skills, knowledge, qualities - and it represents both your growth and your potential. It is a collection of tangible materials that represent work-related events in your life organized in a notebook or in an on-line format. The portfolio provides evidence of your abilities by showing actual examples of your work.

When do I use a portfolio?

Your portfolio is an excellent way to market your qualifications to a number of audiences: internship sites, potential employers, and graduate or professional schools. Your portfolio can also be used by you during an interview to demonstrate your experience, skills, or accomplishments. Additionally, it is wise to maintain a portfolio throughout your career to record achievements, evaluations, and letters of commendation.

What are electronic or on-line portfolios and how would I start one?

Electronic portfolios are typically designed as web pages and are posted to an internet location or burned onto a CD-ROM. If you create a portfolio via either OptimalResume or Blackboard you will be able to include the url of that portfolio on any resumes you send so that interested recipients can go on-line to see your abilities. This type of portfolio can stand alone or be used to supplement a notebook version of your portfolio. *An electronic portfolio also gives employers the opportunity to receive information about you beyond what is on your resume either before or after an interview. If you are interested in creating an on-line portfolio via Blackboard, please continue reading, but then click here.

If you would like to create your portfolio using OptimalResume, please continue reading, but then click here.

What are the steps in making a portfolio?

(see below for in detailed instructions) 1. Collect relevant documents 2. Sort documents 3. Filter information by reflecting on and evaluating the selections you are considering. 4. Physically construct the portfolio in a notebook, folder or on-line.

Where can I find examples of portfolios?

Notebook format: http://amby.com/kimeldorf/Elaine's_portfolio.pdf


Detailed Portfolio Directions


At the end of each semester, collect and file evidence (within OptimalResume or the Content system of Blackboard if an on-line portfolio is desired) of all your activities, work, assignments, internships, accomplishments, special training and workshops.

What specific items should I collect?

What you choose to include in your portfolio depends on who will be seeing the portfolio. Just as you may have several resumes depending on your varied career goals, you may have several versions of your portfolio. If you are planning to teach, then items relating to your student teaching experience will be essential. If you are interested in a PR position, samples of news releases and other items you have written should be a part of your portfolio. Any documents you select because they prove certain skills should also include a paragraph justifying your selection.

All new college grads should include some of what follows, and feel free to add other items that are relevant:

Work-Related Experience

  • Resume
  • Letter of recommendation from present or former employer
  • Special recognition from customer for work performed
  • Employee of the month award
  • Clippings from employee newsletter relating to you
  • Printouts of Power point presentations you have facilitated (if on-line, the actual presentation can be shown!)
  • Published work

Classroom/School Experiences

  • Transcripts of grades
  • Diplomas, certificates, licenses
  • Examples of assignments which show your skills
  • Actual item created through a class project or a picture of the item
  • Certificate of completion of relevant seminars, workshops, training
  • Summary of a research project you designed

Academic Recognition

  • Letter or certificate which recognizes you as a scholarship recipient
  • Newspaper article noting recognition of special honors
  • Special award for participation in an event
  • Letter or commendation from coach, advisor or other individuals associated with athletic achievement.

Special Skills

  • Examples of handouts, letters, memos, reports, charts, graphs, brochures, etc. using computer software or program languages
  • Correspondence written in a foreign language or documentation of a study abroad or foreign exchange program
  • Certification of skill level such as Water Safety Instructor, First Aid, or CPR.

Community/Club Activity Documents

  • Examples of leadership positions
  • Positive evaluation written by a supervisor
  • Invitation/Program/Poster designed for a special event.
  • Record of your sales achieved for fund raising
  • Descriptions of volunteer experiences

Step 2- SORT DOCUMENTS: Notebook version:

  • Sort Chronologically
  • Sorting is organized by years or grades in school i.e. (freshman, sophomore, etc.).
  • Sort by Subject: Sorting can be organized by relevant skills, school subject, or by job or project.

Career Development's Blackboard version: See a way to organize your eportfolio to more clearly show growth over time.


A good size portfolio for interviewing would be 15-25 pages; otherwise you risk overwhelming the reader. An easy way to filter your portfolio down is to use the job description. If the job asks for teamwork, public speaking, computer and communication skills, only include items that prove you have these skills.


You will need:

  • Leather/pleather 3 ring binder or a portfolio with handles; the color should preferably be burgundy or brown.
  • Page divider tabs; you may want to use tabs to help navigate your portfolio. Type section titles on white tabs and insert them into dividers.
  • Sheet Protectors; purchase clear protectors (with 3 holes for binders) that allow top loading. These will protect documents and top-loading will allow interviews to easily remove documents during interviews.
  • Once documents have been collected, you will need to create a table of contents, tabs and captions for your binder.



The best time to present your portfolio is during an interview.

  • Bring the portfolio to the interview and do not present your portfolio until a question comes up about a skill that can be answered with "proof" in your portfolio. With this introduction, you may reveal the contents of the portfolio to the interviewer. 
  • Bring your portfolio and make the portfolio very obvious upon entering the interview room, either by placing it on the interview table when shaking the interview's hand, or by showing the portfolio and asking if the interviewer would like to examine it now or later. With this approach, you take control from the very beginning.