Case in point: the portfolio. The best portfolios take you one step above the rest of the applicant pool. Not only do they showcase your best work, they also give you a personality. But when an interview is looming, stressing to get your portfolio together isn't the way to get your game face on.
The solution? While continually updating your resume and portfolio may not be realistic, keep on hand the things you need to do so. Below are a few "prep steps" so you're ready to update your portfolio at a moment's notice.
1. Include the necessary information. Make your life easy and decide early on what is appropriate for your portfolio and what isn't. They don't need your high school report card, but will they want your college G.P.A.? What is it that you want to showcase? If your strength lies in your creative thinking, show a wide variety of work samples. Have a lot of account-service experience? Make a bigger deal of listing the accounts you've worked on and how you specifically benefited the client. Knowing exactly what you want to focus on will make your formatting easier.
Hint: Follow JB Osborne's advice from Mansi Trivedi's latest post and lose the buzzwords. When possible, give specific examples and back them up with numbers. ("Page views increased 240% in the 10 days following the launch of XYZ's holiday campaign.")
2. Choose easy formatting. When creating a portfolio, choose a few "brand guidelines." You may not need a logo, but choose two or three complementary fonts and colors, and stick with them. Organization and consistency is key. You're telling your potential employers that you want to be a part of their team, so put in the extra work to make your portfolio look client-ready.
3. Keep lists. Keep a list of past projects, new skills and areas of expertise. I suggested it as a way to maximize an internship, and I recommend that you make it a habit. One way to do so? Monthly accomplishments. At the end of the month, sit down for about 20 minutes and write down what you did this month that was noteworthy.
This way, when you're debating what needs to be refreshed before an interview, you can quickly scan your list to determine what can be changed out and what can be added to create a more current sampling.
4. Garner recommendations. Ask each of your top three references for a quick quote about your work. Including them is an addition that will give your portfolio some personality and an idea of what they'll hear should they decide to contact them. A portfolio will give you the opportunity to bridge your personality and your work in one document. Remember to let both shine through.