Laura Decarlo: Hi! I am Laura Decarlo, certified interview coach and President of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Career Directors International. I am sharing strategies for planning to ace your job interview. Right now, I am going to give you strategies for creating an employment portfolio.
This is something that very few job seekers choose to take the effort to assemble. So it is extremely powerful in helping you stand out and make a positive impression with a prospective employer. This is because the portfolio will allow you to show samples of your work to your employer, add visual impact to your answers, a major bonus if you're nervous or concerned about your ability, to communicate your value effectively in the interview process, showcase your accomplishments, trainings and experiences, provide the employer with information that does the selling for you.
Your portfolio is typically going to be made with a three-ring binder or similar folder with a clear plastic cover that will let you insert your own cover. You also need clear plastic pages to hold the documents that make up the contents of your portfolio. You're now ready to begin gathering, and in some cases, creating the materials, you'll include in your portfolio.
These documents include resume, cover letter, reference page, letters of recommendation, copies of transcripts, licenses, certificates or other academic records, copies of awards and honors, work samples and project summaries, employment evaluations you received from past jobs, job descriptions, detailed challenges and solutions you faced in your jobs or descriptions of projects, goals and plans such as a 5-year goal timeline, list of technical skills such as software programs.
It is a good idea to make 2-3 photocopies of each document so that you can provide anything an employer might request without giving up your original. Do not worry if you do not have a number of items ready to put in your portfolio. Your portfolio can be a starting point that you'll continue to build upon in your career.
At this initial point, you might need to create material, such as project summaries or list of skills so you have something to show. Also, do not forget creating charts and graphs that demonstrate your success. For instance, a sales person could easily create a graph that shows sales growth or quota attainment. Items like graphs and other visuals in your portfolio are valuable because they leave a lasting impression and add visual punch to your verbal presentation.
According to a study performed by the American society for training and development on the value of visual cues, people remember 11% of what they read, 20% of what they hear, and 52% of what they both see and hear. Therefore, you'll want to be sure to take a look at what you have to offer and look for opportunities to introduce these elements into your portfolio.
Once you have your portfolio assembled you need to know how to incorporate it into your interview. First, don't forget to take it with you to the interview. When you go into the interviewer's office, ask if you can set it on the desk in front of you. If that is not possible, hold it aside until you can refer to it. Sometimes, by placing it on the desk, the employer will ask to look through it. This can actually change the structure of the interview with the employer asking to look through it and forming specific questions about what he or she sees.
If this does not happen, be sure to refer to the portfolio when answering some of your questions. For instance, when the interviewer asks you about your accomplishments, you might open your portfolio and start showing him or her, your awards, or discussing what they are for. You'll find that a portfolio will give you a polished and professional look while building proof of your value. Now that you have the strategy to create your portfolio, I'll next share with you, ways to make the best impression through your body language and word choice in the interview.