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How to Create a Digital Career Portfolio

January 26th, 2009 · 11 Comments

  Tim Conway

While conducting a job search in the ultra-competitive PR field, results matter.


During interviews, you can demonstrate results gained by mimicking the slogan on Missouri license plates:  Show Me.  Your objective is to share best-of samples to “tell your story” to hiring authorities.


Separate yourself from others through use of digital Career Portfolio.  This persuasive tool consists of artifacts that you’re proud of from:  college courses (e.g., group projects); campus organizations (such as fliers or news coverage); internships; study abroad; and community service.


To produce a memorable Career Portfolio, follow these steps:


  1. COLLECT:  your mission is to compile top achievements (focus on past 3-4 years; don’t include high school since this period is considered “old news” by employers).  For example, pull:  academic transcripts when you earned 3.0 GPA; Dean’s List letters/award certificates; complimentary e-mails from clients; positive comments by supervisor in annual performance review.


  1. FILTER:  select 7-10 items that relate to in-demand skills and character traits (e.g., research, writing, speaking, editorial placements, customer service, problem-solving, attention-to-details).


  1. DESIGN:  assemble contents in format that is easy-to-skim for busy executives.  For instance:  appealing cover page (your name with target employer logo); succinct Table of Contents; Personal Goals (e.g., PRSA, foreign language); lay-outs with minimal copy/art; photo caption/text box to describe each accomplishment. 


Other effective methods:  show on-the-job progression via flowchart (especially promotions and salary increases); compose success stories with outliner of Situation, Task, Action, Results; include resume, references and contact information at end.


Access no-cost templates at:


Microsoft Powerpoint


Apple Keynote


Visual CV





For royalty-free photographs:


Getty Images 



If you’re not artistic, partner with graphic designer to ensure pages are appropriate/consistent.  For those pursuing consumer PR, display photos of popular brands and grocery stores.  An Investor Relations candidate should have conservative lay-outs with Wall Street theme. 


  1. PRESENT:  rehearse with samples to address typical interview queries, such as “Describe when you applied leadership talents in workplace …” or “Do you have proof of those organizational abilities?” or “”When have you collaborated with peers to deliver presentation?”


Reality Check:  Creating high-quality Career Portfolio is significant undertaking.  In fact, to complete varied tasks — deciding flow, editing copy, picking logos/art — allocate 10-20 hours over three weeks.


Why spend the time?  Main reasons:


  1. Decent resume will secure interviews; Career Portfolio locks-in job offers.
  2. Human Resource experts claim “previous behavior indicates future success.”  So offering tangible evidence will convince skeptical decision-makers of your value.
  3. Few job seekers use Career Portfolio, so you’ll gain an immediate edge.


By a deploying Career Portfolio, you’ll boost performance during interviews.  Soon you’ll perhaps be earning a bigger paycheck as spokesperson for Missouri.



Tim Conway, who operates Ignite Young Adults, has taught undergraduates at DePaul University (Chicago) for five years.  During 2007, he assisted author Dr. Bill Coplin to draft guidebook “25 Ways To Make College Pay Off.  This winter/spring, Tim will facilitate Career Management seminars at DePaul on making career change, job hunt process and bold self-marketing techniques.

Tags: Advice from a Pro · Job Search

11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Graham Wolfe // Jan 26, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Mr. Culp, Mr. Conway – thanks for posting this. I’m taking your advice into consideration for my own interview portfolio. Until I line up more interviews, I’m directing perspective employers to my blog where they can view my resume, writing samples and thoughts on current PR issues. Is this a good practice? It’s my online portfolio. Would love your opinion of the blog. –thanks

  • 2 Tim Conway // Jan 26, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Blog can be effective self-marketing technique assuming contents are high-quality. From first glance, your blog seems top-shelf due to catchy art, grabber headlines, writing style and timely topics. That being said, employers expect job seekers to have mix of R-E-S-U-L-T-S (since concrete evidence is more credible proof to hiring managers). Benefit: Career Portfolio enables candidates to forward samples before in-person meeting or use as show-n-tell during interview (via computer demonstration or color copies of select pages). Tim

  • 3 Stacey Stewart // Jan 26, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    This was a very helpful post. As a senior on the prowl for a job, hearing this sort of advice is encouraging. Not only that, but it also reassures me that my program at the University of Oregon is preparing me well for the “real world.” I say that because last term as part of my capstone class we were sent up to Portland for a portfolio review with employees from major PR firms. We created a portfolio, gave our schpeal and got critiqued. As a student, I cannot stress how valuable this opportunity was for me. Reading your post reaffirmed my needs and even gave me additional advice (seeing as Ketchum is where I would like to be…). Thanks for a great post!


  • 4 Weekly CyberFootprints Jan 27 2009 | CyberFootprint // Jan 27, 2009 at 2:49 am

    […] Conway offers some very useful advice for the graduates and young professionals on building digital presence and a portfolio. Tim’s […]

  • 5 Tim Conway // Jan 27, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Glad you received meaningful input at recent portfolio review. As you learned, to maximize value of Career Portfolio you must actually use it. In fact, present samples to any-n-all relevant audiences (e.g., internship boss, mentors). Benefits of this “test drive” approach: receive feedback from industry pros; fine-tune content organization; and strengthen Personal Pitch (by grasping when to share samples and being comfortable briefly explaining each item).

  • 6 Rachel M. Esterline .:. A Step Ahead // Jan 29, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I actually created my online portfolio last summer. Before I had used a free web service and it wasn’t that impressive. But, last July or so I purchased my own domain name ( and designed my own Web site. It has been the most valuable tool I have for selling myself to potential employers.

  • 7 Tim Conway // Jan 29, 2009 at 11:14 am

    Kudos for your initiative to devise personal Web site that reflects Brand Y-O-U. After cursory review, your content seems to be of value to audiences. Take-away: being proactive in job search during difficult economy will pay dividends (more call-backs, interviews and offers). So keep “pushing” content out to influentials across marcom industry (not just peers, but those at level who can interview/hire you). Also, pitch yourself for short-term projects to prove capabilities; this strategy often leads to longer assignments or full-time role (since you’ll be top-of-mind when openings occur) . Tim

  • 8 3 Steps to Building a Career Portfolio « Non(pr)ofit // Feb 2, 2009 at 5:21 am

    […] Steps to Building a Career Portfolio Tim Conway offers 3 steps to building a career […]

  • 9 Teresa Lindsay // Feb 13, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    Dear Mr. Conway,

    I am very glad to see a blogger who refers Video Resume web site such as Visual CV. I think it is time that we use our Phone Cameras, Web cams and other digital devises more professionally and market our self to prospective Employers. What are our thoughts on the subject “Video resumes” now? Will it hit the internet as big as Youtube did?

  • 10 Tim Conway // Feb 14, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Video resumes should be part of job seeker’s “arsenal” of communication tools to reach progressive employers (especially in creative fields of PR/marketing). However, only use high quality video resume. Some production tips: draft script with focus on benefits to employer (mention track-record of academic/on-the-job accomplishments and relevant skills); wear professional attire; be natural (e.g., smile; eye contact; gesture); background should be plain wall; rehearse several times; and 2-minutes total time.
    ps- video resumes will never become as popular as YouTube since most employers rely on traditional methods to screen candidates.

  • 11 Kendall lee // Mar 3, 2009 at 10:49 am

    I think this post was very helpful. It might seem a little overwhelming to some who are not as computer savvy. If you go to a website called, you can easily upload all of the information you need for a professional portfolio. ( Achievements, skills, character traits etc.) The best part about it, is that you can give a direct URL link to anyone you want. It is a really good way to showcase your personal brand, resume and goals all in one place.

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