A portfolio, also known as a professional or career portfolio, is an organized collection of works used to show one's capabilities and accomplishments. Unless specifically requested by an employer, a portfolio will not be a part of the initial application process. More conventional materials like a resume, cover letter, and/or job application are most often used in the initial selection process. There are though some career fields where a portfolio will be utilized during the initial application process (e.g. Teaching, Graphic Design). Either way, when interviewing, networking, or simply keeping yourself current on your own qualifications and accomplishments, having a portfolio can be of immense value.

Traditionally, portfolios have been a collection of paper materials thoughtfully organized in a professional binder. In recent years, there has been an increased interest in electronic portfolios (e-portfolio), also known as digital portfolios. You may choose to employ one or both of these options.

Portfolios may include, but are not limited to:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • Transcripts
  • Certifications
  • Proof of recognition
  • Proof of accomplishments
  • Proof of leadership
  • Proof of performance
  • Career goals
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Awards
  • Writing samples

Depending on your major or career field, there may be additional career field specific sections or works you could include in your portfolio. For example:

Teaching Portfolio:

  • Lesson plans
  • Teaching philosophy
  • List of classroom management strategies

Graphic Design Portfolio:

  • Publications created (e.g. brochure, newsletter)
  • Graphic design software certifications
  • URL to website(s) created


Electronic Portfolios (e-portfolio)

E-portfolios include information typically found in a paper portfolio but allow for a more dynamic presentation style. Web-based e-portfolios are the most accessible to employers and can be shared by simply adding your website URL to your resume and cover letter. It is very important that your e-portfolio has a professional appearance, is easy to navigate, and is updated regularly.