Show Me Your Skills! How to Create a Portfolio that Stands Out to Recruiters

By: Tiffany Franklin

Portfolios have long been part of the job search process for artists, designers, architects, and teachers, but in recent years professionals across industries have started using this powerful tool to convey their experience. With the proliferation of free portfolio sites, it’s now easier than ever to create a web page that will demonstrate the experience you write about in your resume and cover letters. A well-conceived web portfolio will provide examples of your Knowledge, Skills and Accomplishments and offer clues regarding your design aesthetic and the way you organize information. Portfolios bring your resume to life and allow recruiters to learn more about you as a candidate.


Designing a web page yourself vs. the free portfolio sites
Consider your industry and the job to which you are applying. If you are applying for a Web Designer or Information Architect position, you should have the skills to design your own site as the best example of your work and what you could do for that employer. In other fields that will not involve designing web sites for a living, using one of the existing portfolio sites would be a viable option. Here are a few sites to check out – Coroflot, Behance Network, Carbonmade, Cargo, Dribble, Portfolium, Folionix, and Wix. Some people have even used blogging Platforms such as WordPress or to demonstrate their experience.

Experience to Include
In addition to your internship and work experiences, portfolios are great places to showcase your academic projects and other projects outside of class. Create categories of examples to support your skills. Some people list their work by project title, while others will group items under headings such as interactive design, native apps, websites, sketches, logos, and more. It’s up to you to think about your audience (dream job/company) and design your portfolio in a way that tells your story in a compelling way and shows your capabilities in that context.

Tips for Making your Portfolio Effective

• Select your best work and keep the portfolio updated

• Be sure to include your contact information

• Only include work that is your own and include descriptors that show your role in team projects

• Mention the software you use to create the projects you list (Recruiters often use key word searches to find candidates, including specific software)

• Edit every page of your portfolio (spelling, grammar, consistent look and feel); get a second opinion

• Spend time planning your portfolio – clean layout; pay attention to design, colors, and typography

• Look at other portfolios online and consider the qualities that make some stand out from others

• Show the phases of your projects where relevant, from initial sketches to final product

• Include the link for your portfolio on your resume, cover letters and LinkedIn

Remember, Career Services is here to help! Along with resume and cover letter critiques, we can also meet with you to discuss your portfolio and offer suggestions.


Maintain Momentum in Your Job/Internship Search during the Holidays

Tiffany Franklin, Associate Director

Happy Thanksgiving! It’s that time of year when the semester is wrapping up and you have earned a well-deserved break to relax with friends and family. As you pause to give thanks, this is also an opportunity to reflect on your job/internship search efforts so far and develop a plan that will build on your efforts from this semester. Many companies may slow the pace of their recruiting efforts before the big push in early January. This is the perfect time for you to take a few steps during holiday breaks that will help you when campus recruiting heats up in the new year.

Have your resume and cover letter critiqued and ready. As you reflect on the year, be sure to update your resume to include your most recent accomplishments and new activities. Find a job or internship posting that interests you and draft a cover letter. If you are pursuing two different industries (e.g., engineering and consulting), create two versions of your resume. Be sure to drop your resume and cover letter off at Career Services, come in for a walk-in session or call to schedule an appointment. We are here to help you!

Practice Your Interview Skills. The best time to prepare for an interview is before you’re in the middle of a hectic week of mid-terms, papers and campus obligations. Take time between semesters to review the Interviewing Advice section on the Career Services website. There are sample questions (general, behavioral, by industry) that will help you know what to expect and guidance on how to handle these questions. Be sure to practice these on your own, with a friend or call Career Services for a mock interview. There’s also a whole page of interview prep guides and access to Interview Stream, a practice interview system that allows job seekers the opportunity to see and hear themselves online. Prepare now and when you’re invited for interviews this spring, you’ll have the general prep finished and can focus on tailoring your interview efforts to that specific position and employer.

Research the Possibilities. Are you still deciding between industries? Use this time to research various career paths and discover fields that fit your interests. Sites such as Vault and Wetfeet Guides provide helpful snapshots of industries. There’s a whole section of the Career Services website (Career Exploration tab) dedicated to pathways you can take with your major. Glassdoor is a site with an abundance of information of specific companies. In addition, one of the best ways to explore a career path is to speak with people working in that in that field. Informational interviews give you the opportunity to ask someone what they like about their job, what they find challenging and what they wish they knew when they were getting started. Penn teaches you how to research like a pro, so put that to use for your job search.

Make New Connections. One of the many benefits of attending Penn is the strong alumni network you now have at your fingertips. QuakerNet, Penn’s online alumni community, and LinkedIn are fantastic ways to identify alumni to connect with for informational interviews. On both QuakerNet and LinkedIn, you can search alumni by company, industry and location. Take a chance and reach out to alumni to see if they would have 15 minutes to connect and share their experience in a particular field. Remember to send thank you notes afterwards!

Develop a Plan. PennLink, iNet (internships) and job sites targeted by major (Found on the Career Exploration page – what can I do with my major section) will have a multitude of opportunities, with new ones added throughout the spring semester. Take some time to become familiar with uploading documents and conducting advanced searches on these sites. Make it a habit now to start checking the calendar on the Career Services site on a weekly basis for the latest workshops, panels, information sessions, and career fairs.

These tips can help you position yourself for a productive job/internship search. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!