My college age daughter, Barbara, was way ahead of me on this one. Just last week she had sent out close to 20 cover letters requesting interviews for summer PR internships. She had designed a one page resume that really sparkled and then wrote a personal cover letter for each place to capture the value she would bring to the organization. She sent them out all within three days and even carefully timed them to drop in the hiring manager’s email box first thing in the morning.
Whatever she said seemed to work – she got four interview requests almost immediately as well as several other inquires for more information. After the first flurry of responding back to each person, she is nowpreparing for the first phone interview and then will be off to New York City for several face-to-face interviews.
And here’s where she was ahead of me . . . by this afternoon she was already at the printer having several career portfolios copied and bound. She had selected which documents were most valuable to include (writing samples; two letters of reference; resume etc.) and knew to keep it simple, clear and concise. She had some business cards made up as well. You could hear the confidence in her voice as she knew that these marketing tools would be the “icing on the cake”.
Why go to this much effort? Not many people do but the really savvy job seekers know that it’s well worth the effort. After all, interviewing for full-time employment; an internship or even a volunteer position is all about marketing yourself. And walking into an interview prepared with a portfolio that has been customized for a particular position sends a strong message that you’re prepared, self-confident and ready to work. And bottom line . . . your portfolio provides tangible proof that you are who you say you are – that speaks to your authenticity and credibility.
One of my more popular training courses is “Building a Powerful Career Portfolio” which takes people through the process of complying a career portfolio and then into practicing how to share a portfolio with a hiring manager for maximum impact. Social media has embraced this message as well. Your LinkedIn profile, personalized website and on-line presence are essentially the same thing.
But the real benefit to your career portfolio is the acknowledgement that you’ve done some wonderful things over the years (we tend to forget) and that psychological boost feels really good going into any kind of interview. Plus, it’s great fun to show off to your older brother!