Many industries require a portfolio as a routine part of the application process, especially in creative fields such as graphic design, animation or illustration. However, a portfolio can also be useful for software developers, web developers and marketers and advertisers. While your resume tells what you can do, a portfolio actually shows it. A visual representation gives recruiters and employers a quick glance at what you can do, saving them time.
In your portfolio, you should include your resume and most importantly, your work samples. It's also helpful to include a list of skills, references, copies of relevant certificates and a brief bio. If you have a LinkedIn profile, much of the content from that would be useful to include. For work samples, choose the highlights and demonstrate variety. For graphic design, marketing or copywriting, your most successful advertising campaign would be a good choice, with samples from social media, email and physical brochures if relevant. If you're in tech, show examples of some coding that you've done and/or images from websites that you've worked on.
A portfolio can be presented in either a physical or online format. If you're an artist or designer with a lot of print materials going to an interview or conference, you may need a physical one, presented in an attractive binder and organised in a logical fashion. For most others, an online portfolio will suffice. It's easy to create a free, simple website with all your materials. Another option is organising it all in a pdf or Google document.
A website is a convenient and easy way to share your portfolio and be found. However, an advantage of putting it in a document as well is that you can tailor it to specific companies where you're applying to highlight where your strengths work for them. Make sure your portfolio stays up to date by removing old information and adding new projects regularly.
Who needs a portfolio
What should be included
Presenting the material
Tailor it to your audience