What Is A Portfolio & How To Make A Good One

What’s a portfolio, and why would you need one?

You may be looking to:

  • Get hired for a better position
  • Summarize the most important events of your career
  • Make an inventory of all your assets

A portfolio should reflect the way you think and what past events happened as a result. It includes your work, strategies, qualifications, skills, and education.

These documents aim to answer questions like these:

  • Are you the right person or this position?
  • What results have you produced?
  • How much progress have you made in this period?
  • How many disciplines do you cover? Do you focus on a single skill instead?

It doesn’t matter whether we talk about qualifying a team or choosing an investment. People may have different beliefs about why you should or shouldn’t accept it. But at the end of the day, results show what a person or asset is worth.

You have a good portfolio when your skill or asset allocation strategy has brought you success. As a result, others may be interested in working with you.

What Makes A Good Portfolio?

What Makes A Good Portfolio

As mentioned, results determine how relevant it is. Ideally, the ones who read your portfolio want to see you helped a lot of people, especially from different projects.

These expectations create a barrier for new figures who may haven’t got that much work experience yet. But in these cases, quality outweighs quantity. One incredible project is better than ten mediocre ones.

People yet expect to find a minimum of ten to twelve elements to show. That’s because they want you to prove you can deliver results consistently, work with different teams, and adapt to other cultures.

As a rule of thumb, your portfolio becomes more reliable as you add more content to it. You should highlight the best projects only, although you could mention the minor ones later.

Key Differences: Portfolios, Resumes, and Work Samples

Key Differences

Which ones would you choose for a recruiting decision? You could, of course, use the three at once, but which one is more important in your opinion?

Understand that whenever you approach a career opportunity, there are likely other people who are chasing the same thing. It makes the team more effort and time to make a decision, which is why they may give you less attention than you’d like.

One may believe that you need to do thorough research to see the value of a professional. But when reviewing hundreds of pieces, they will likely spend around thirty seconds looking at the highlights, not ten minutes reading every word. In these cases, resumes fit better.

These will summarize all your work experience, skills, certifications, and achievements.

Like resumes, work samples focus on quality over quantity. Recruiters who ask about these you want to know:

  • Do your work samples fit their niche?
  • Is it the best work they can expect you to do?
  • Is it a public, official project, or just a sample with no other purpose?
  • What results have you helped the client achieve because of it? Have they made more money because of your work?

When it comes to samples, people will wonder if you can solve their exact problem. They don’t necessarily care about project variety as much as specialization. If you have an extensive portfolio, for example, you are more likely to have a piece of their interest.

Portfolios use elements from both resumes and project presentations. The difference is, they cover your experiences with much more depth, using your best projects to support your story.

A recruiter likes professionals with lots of experience if the project. But still, that doesn’t necessarily make them the right person for the position. How do we know you can help us in particular?

Your portfolio will show the skills and beliefs you used to create those results. Projects are yet relevant, but what matters is what led you to start and complete them. 

Because of it, portfolios combine pages of stories with text and images. It shows your evolution as a professional, what you wish to accomplish in the future, and what you currently do to prepare for it.

These documents prove very helpful for complementing work interviews. They offer the interviewer a clear picture of what you’ve done (like a resume), including the depth of content.

How To Make A Portfolio That Stands Out

How To Make A Portfolio That Stands Out

Portfolios tend to reflect people’s personalities, which is why they should all look different. But recruiters who check hundreds of these a day will agree that most of them feel the same. How can you make yours better?

#1 Tell stories, not just work history

People hire people, not portfolios. There are likely people with similar work experience. Why should they choose you?

Sharing your thoughts on a portfolio can be polarizing. It shows others what values and goals you have. Your work samples may not match with the company’s sector, but if your work ethic and culture match with theirs, recruiters may give you a chance.

#2 Best projects only

Although it’s tempting to brag about the many projects completed, understand that people may feel overwhelmed by projects they don’t relate to. Pick your top five and share the rest if only they ask you to do so.

You neither need to share these chronologically. If your best projects are the most recent ones, introducing with them works better for a first impression.

#3 Testimonials

Clients are the ones getting the results, after all. The way others perceive you can give recruiters more confidence in what you can achieve. 

Remember to make testimonials credible. You could share a reference where you can find the client’s website, which includes your work. Or you may use video-testimonials instead.

#4 Specialization

Many of us brag about variety because it looks as if we could do anything, thus attracting more clients. But in business, specialism is worth more than generalism.

Think as a business owner. You want to be exceptional and beat every other competitor in the marketer. How would you benefit from someone who only knows the basics plus fifty other irrelevant sectors?

They don’t ask for skills for the sake of them, but results.

The Bottom Line

Portfolios reflect your personality, present your past projects, and show your career direction. Different skills add variety, although most interviewers will focus on the most relevant one.


You can use this advice to improve your strategy, whether you’re a professional or an investor.

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