This post provides an overview on portfolio content, forms and reasons to consider this strategic career tool.
A portfolio is a collection of stories about solutions and experiences.
Each story presents the problem or challenge, ideas, final execution and whenever possible, results. (quantifiable and qualifiable)
The story may also reveal tools, materials, roles, comps, drafts, schemas and methods used during ideation, execution and implementation phases of the project.
It is important to note portfolios take on many forms, some raw, some polished.
In my experience there are 3 primary forms.
- the shoebox (add digital metaphor here). Take the time to secure all supporting details and elements of every unique experience while they're available. Consider polish later.
This takes diligence but is a relatively nimble way to retain the story for future reference.
- the general public porfolio. This is the url or book you share openly. Preparing this portfolio requires careful consideration not to disclose the intellectual property of current or past clients and employers. This requirement sometimes creates somewhat shallow or generalized stories.
- the custom presentation. This portfolio is tailored to your prospective client or employer. For this presentation you pull relevant stories from 1 and 2 above and present them directly to your prospects interests.
These stories are first and foremost for yourself.
One of the most affirming aspects of a portfolio approach is revealing tacit (wikipedia) knowledge. As we learn new techniques, tools, styles and skills they become internalized as part of who we are. Looking back at past accomplishments (and the related struggles) we realize how much we have changed and developed.
If for no other reason than this, adopt a portfolio approach.
While many creative professionals are intimate with the merits of a portfolio I encourage all knowledge workers to adopt a portfolio approach in managing their careers.
I look forward to discussing your experiences with and ideas for portfolio use.