An essential thing almost everyone forgets when applying for a job

Posted June 17, 2015 by
Midsection of a businessman shaking hands with a female interviewer in office

Midsection of a businessman shaking hands with a female interviewer in office. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Most of the applicants forget it because they think this is only for creatives. The portfolio. “Oh come on”, you’re ready to say, “I’m not a designer. A portfolio for an accountant – are you kidding me?” Truth to be told, there can be a portfolio for almost any kind of job. Only in some cases, you don’t send it to the potential employer and don’t put it on a table during the interview. But if you’ll definitely benefit from having it for yourself; here is why and how.

In fact, once your resume is considered and you are invited for an interview, your potential employer will most likely ask you the questions that every good creative asks him/herself when making a portfolio. Why not get prepared and sketch out your portfolio?

What can it look like? Event and PR managers, as well as marketing professionals present their key achievements in the form of case studies. There are challenges to overcome in every life, as much in the life of a college student as in any other one’s life. Have you been a project coordinator? Invited an important person to speak in public? Presented something in public on your own? Volunteered for a dog shelter despite of your fear of dogs? Some college students are involved in the promotion of cultural events, dealing with an enormous amount of meetings and phone calls as volunteers. Some research, helping create complex projects with the use of augmented reality, such as in the MIT lab.

There may also be stats and descriptions. You started selling cookies as a girl scout, that’s just some work. You sold ten times more than all your peers, now, that’s an achievement.

An important thing here is to describe the challenge and those special activities you carried out to overcome it.

What should be there? What shouldn’t? When a designer creates a portfolio, he/she looks at the entire career and makes a decision what is worth showing and in what way this must be presented. It’s not a fancy set of pictures to show how cute an applicant is; rather, it’s a thought-out display of his/her achievements and potential.

Quite often, illustrators have to draw something that is not typical for them: package patterns, pictures of birds for biology handbooks, lovely postcards with little girls, etc. Most of them don’t list such things on their portfolios, and for a good reason: they are not interested in repeating this.

You will also need to decide what is better to be left out. If you are applying for a job that requires merely mechanical skills, management is not so important. When applying for an internship with some advertising agency, don’t mention your work as a promoter giving out paper flyers, as the responsibility is obviously different.

However, diversity also matters. This is evident in the sample sections of those websites that sell content, such as Studentessay.

How can you be useful? A good designer or copywriter will never put his work in the portfolio without a reference to how it is used. When a picture is put on a mockup, like a logo on a cup, the achievement becomes contextualized. You can do the same with your achievements: think how they would exist in a broader context. This often helps you work and study better, since you understand to what end the efforts are. For example, you’re writing for a college blog. Try to think of it broadly: this way, you are giving voices to the students in the college community; you are developing the public image of your college itself.

Is there anything special in your work? For creatives, a portfolio is definitely better when there is ‘a spark’ in it. Why not for you? A baby-sitter may also do the work unusually by being proactive: warning the parents about the behavior of a baby that seems strange. Some dentists just calm their customers down and some joke with their customers to calm them down. Some reporters care much about data verification, some prefer esseistic writing or data visualization. Whatever you do specially can become part of your personal brand right now.

About author: David Sia, graduated from the University of West Los Angeles in Inglewood and holds master’s degree in law. Now he works as a journalist, also he is an expert in custom academic papers and resume services. If you need more information you may visit or contact him directly at

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