Jobseekers: What goes into creating a professional work portfolio

The Jobseekers Series is a series of articles The Daily Vox team has put together to help prospective jobseekers. Job seeking is a costly and difficult process. This series seeks to make it a little easier with tips and advice. This piece will focus on what a work portfolio is, how to create one and tips for improving your work portfolio.

What is a work portfolio?

A work portfolio is a collection of a job candidate’s best work. It is an excellent way to present your work to potential employers and display the skills that qualify you for a position. 

Portfolios are most commonly required in industries where audio or visual impact is important. These are industries like graphic design, architecture, photography, web design, broadcast media, and performing arts. Writing, editing and advertising jobs are included too.

While not every industry and position requires a portfolio, it’s still a way to stand out. You might want to include presentations and pictures or samples from projects you’ve completed. Make sure you’re not sharing proprietary information without permission. Jobseekers can have an online portfolio, a paper portfolio, or both.

How to create a work portfolio?

To create a work portfolio, make sure you include the following:

Your CV

It’s important to include your CV here, even if you’ve already submitted it with your application. 


Help for jobseekers: Here’s how to write a CV

Samples of your work

Your portfolio should include a wide variety of writing samples, photographs, images, strategies or reports. The specifics will depend on the job you’re applying for. Also provide any available feedback with your work samples. 

Transcripts, degrees, licenses, and/or certifications

Above all, employers want to see proof of your qualifications for the position. This section should contain copies or links to actual documents, not just descriptions of these items. 

Letters of recommendation, references, testimonials or reviews

You can include a reference contact page and testimonials from clients. This will demonstrate your professional qualities, skills and abilities. Aim to include three to five people that are willing to speak to your professional performance.

Awards and accomplishments

List additional information about awards and accomplishments from your CV. Academic honors, scholarships or employee of the month awards are achievements you can expand on in this section.


Jobseekers: hard skills vs. soft skills, what’s the difference?

Tips for improving your work portfolio

Brand Yourself 

Give your portfolio a brand, make a logo for yourself and use it on every page throughout your portfolio.

Make your portfolio visually appealing 

Organise and design your portfolio in a consistent way that displays your aesthetic, personality and work style.

For physical copies of your work portfolio, use a binder, folder or portfolio case to make the pages easy to flip through. You can use section dividers to make finding information as easy as possible. Protect the pages with clear page covers.

Customise it for specific job applications and interviews. 

Once you have created your work portfolio, you need to customise it for each new job application and interview. This will be to highlight the requirements listed on the job description.

Go digital

An online portfolio allows you to share your work with a wider audience and can be accessed at any time. There are many options for creating an online portfolio. Several websites and networking platforms offer online portfolio services and some are free. You could also create your own website. When your online portfolio is ready, include a link to it in your CV, your professional networking profiles and your email signature.

Update your portfolio occasionally

Try to update your portfolio every few months or once a year. Regularly reviewing your portfolio will enable you to add new information while it’s still fresh in your mind and remove items that have become outdated. It’s also a good way to monitor your progress and identify areas you need to work on.

The Job Seekers Series:

Help for jobseekers: Here’s how to write a CV – The Daily Vox 

Jobseekers: How to apply for a job in-person – The Daily Vox

Jobseekers: How to write a cover letter – The Daily Vox 

The List: Popular job search websites in South Africa 

Jobseekers: 7 common interview questions – The Daily Vox 

Featured image via pxfuel