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You Need a Professional Portfolio: The Different Types & Benefits

Updated: Apr 5

Resumes, LinkedIn, and social media pages are not enough - to excel and meet your goals, you need a professional portfolio.

In today's fast-paced worlds of business, communication, and career growth - we must market ourselves efficiently and effectively. According to Goran Paun of the Forbes Council, having an online brand is the ideal way to communicate with potential prospects or consumers. Why? Because it allows you to share and control the narrative about who you are and what you do. Many assume this can be done with a LinkedIn page, social media presence, or online resume. Well, that is not enough - you need an online portfolio to truly excel.

Table of Contents:

Why Do You Need an Online Portfolio?

There are four types of business portfolios to consider, but before I discuss that, I want to answer the question - why do you need an online portfolio? Well, according to the University of Adelaide (a top 1% international university), these are the five benefits of creating an online portfolio. It will:

  • Showcase your work in a professional way

  • Provide a great first impression to prospective employers and/or prospects

  • Increase your visibility and online presence

  • Demonstrate your professional identity beyond a resume

  • Provide flexible content options, such as video, pictures, documents, and more.

Now, let's discuss the four types of online portfolios.

Four Types of Online Portfolios

In higher education, college students create ePortfolios, to achieve one of the following goals: (1) showcase or present their work, (2) demonstrate the learning and development process, or (3) document their education or certification. A fourth option is to combine two or more goals. The model used for categorizing ePortfolios in higher education also applies when categorizing business or professional portfolios. Continue reading to see how.

Showcase Portfolio - For Experts & Leaders

A Showcase Portfolio is created to show off the fact that you are an expert or leader in a particular field. This is achieved by presenting experience and examples that demonstrate your proficiency and effectiveness. This type of portfolio can be used by anyone in any field that permits sharing of completed work. It is especially effective for creative works, the fine and performing arts, higher education, and media productions. These can include:

  • Research and scholarly work or activity

  • Photography

  • Dance

  • Art

  • Technical and creative writing

  • Music

  • Deejaying

  • Radio production

  • Podcasting

  • Motivational speaking

A showcase portfolio is also appropriate for freelancers, consultants, and entrepreneurs who need to show proof of work they've completed for others.

Process or Learning Portfolio - For Students & Enthusiasts

A Process or Learning Portfolio is used to demonstrate a record and process of learning. It provides the target audience with proof of your development and growth in a specific area, and is seen as reflective or formative. This type of portfolio is typical of students and enthusiasts who are not yet experts in their field, but eager and active. The focus of this eagerness and activity is to show how they are growing in the field, gaining experience, and increasing their knowledge. This allows for self-review, but also gives prospective employees and prospects the chance to do the following:

  • See how active you are

  • Become aware of your potential for future success

  • Keep you on their radar for future opportunities

  • Reach out to mentor you or provide guidance

Process or Learning Portfolios have great potential but great risk as well, if done incorrectly. Enthusiasts and students want to make sure they don't treat their portfolio like a "digital dump" of everything they do, otherwise the portfolio becomes too cumbersome to read. They should assess the portfolio intermittently, to make sure it remains organized, meaningful, and up-to-date. This requires a willingness to delete irrelevant materials.

Also keep in mind: a process or learning portfolio doesn't have to demonstrate perfection or expertise. Unlike an assessment portfolio, it is not

showing proof of what you've already learned; instead, it demonstrates what you are in the process of learning. Therefore, it can include reflective blog posts or essays to demonstrate how you handle tasks, overcome mistakes, and learn from missteps.

Assessment Portfolio - For the Newly Educated or Rising Stars

An Assessment Portfolio is used to document the arrival of a potential expert or leader in a particular field. Another name for "assessment portfolio" could be "rising star portfolio." This is someone who hasn't had the opportunity to demonstrate their leadership and prove their expertise, but they are educated, prepared, and/or certified. They know more than the student or enthusiast, but need the chance to prove themselves as leaders or experts.

In other words, this portfolio is used to gain the experience that will substantiate their education and training. Assessment Portfolios are a resume of sorts, but in a more dynamic way. It can include video demonstrations, workshop presentations, testimonials, quotes or reviews from mentors or thought-leaders, reflective essays and blogs, or even video vlogs related to business trips and trainings.

Hybrid Portfolio - For Individuals with Multiple Needs

A Hybrid Portfolio is used for individuals who have needs and desires that can't be fulfilled by just one type of portfolio. They have goals that require elements from multiple portfolio types.

For example: perhaps there is someone who is an expert in their field, but eager to join another field. They would use the showcase format to demonstrate their expertise in one field, but merge it with a learning or process portfolio to demonstrate their growth in the other field.

Hybrid Portfolios are especially beneficial to experts and leaders who are transitioning to coaching or motivational speaking. They can use their expertise and education to certify their knowledge about the subject, while also demonstrating the process of practicing and growing as a coach or speaker.

In Closing

Now that you know about the four types of portfolios, which one do you think applies to your professional desires and needs? Why and how? Also, feel free to share this blog with anyone you know, who has what it takes to succeed and excel, but needs that push to take their career to the next level. Convincing them to get a professional portfolio might be the step that changes their lives.

Bonus - Supplemental Infographic Below!

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