Please, Please, Please Show Me Your Portfolio

Matt Stokoe, associate director, Clarion Communications

How many times are we told by the media that it’s tough going when it comes to getting a job, especially as there are currently 2.61m* people out of work?

As for getting your foot on the ladder in any kind of career, there are literally hundreds of candidates fighting over relatively limited vacancies.

So, for creative industries like PR, marketing and advertising - where so much is about experience, experience, personality and experience - how important is it to have a good quality portfolio? From my experience of interviewing wannabes over the years, not as important in the minds of some young guns as it should be.

I’ve seen all sorts of incarnations of coverage portfolios - from scrapbooks, laminated folders and leather-bound portfolio cases to very impressive digital folios stylishly presented on tablets.  Yet it still amazes me when potential employees bowl in with just the odd random clipping, or even worse: nothing at all.

When coverage and content is king, how can you demonstrate your skills and knowledge without highlighting prior success?  I mean, would you buy a house without looking round it first?  Would a Premier League football club give a player a contract without first checking out their footwork? Never - life just doesn’t work like that.**

Securing an interview is often the hardest part of getting a job - so don’t shoot yourself in the foot by neglecting to highlight exactly what you are capable of, and shouting about it.  After all, that’s what we are paid to do in PR.

*ONS data to end of April 2012
** With the notable exception of Ali Dia who was signed by Graeme Souness for Southampton in 1996 on the back of a ‘phone call’ from ex-World Footballer of the Year George Weah. Dia played a terrible 53 minutes against Leeds United which Saints lost 2-0, and then consequently had his contract terminated.

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