A career portfolio is the introvert's secret weapon in job interviews.

The Career Portfolio—an Introvert’s Best Friend in Job Interviews

When you’re an introvert, job interviews are tough—in more ways than one. But there’s one tool that will put you at an advantage. It’s called the career portfolio.

One of the many professional hats I wear is that of career counselor—more specifically, a career counselor who helps people primarily with his fingers these days (i.e., through writing) rather than his mouth (i.e., through individual, 
in-person counseling sessions).

Over the last few years, I’ve helped one liberal arts college and then another develop both printed and online materials designed to help their students find satisfying jobs after they graduate.

As you may know, the job search can be difficult for liberal arts grads.

Some employers, though certainly not all, have trouble discerning exactly what liberal arts grads have to offer.

And frequently the grads themselves face the same problem: They simply don’t know what they have.

Or, worse, they think they have little or nothing at all to offer to a prospective employer.

It’s sad.

And frustrating.

Because the truth is basically the opposite.

When Words Are a Struggle

What’s doubly sad, though, is that even the liberal arts grads who do know their value—who see that they in fact have plenty to contribute to the world of work—frequently have trouble articulating it in a way that will convince an employer to say “you’re hired.”

It’s a vat of untapped potential.

And the more I think about it, the more I see that it has parallels with what we introverts can struggle with in the job search: namely, pinpointing and acknowledging our most-appealing skills, abilities, traits, and qualities and then telling employers about them—compellingly enough to be believed, and thus hired.

If only we had a secret weapon of some sort.

We do.

It’s called the career portfolio.

And if you’re an introvert (or a liberal arts grad … or both!), I urge you to create one for yourself and start using it, especially in your job interviews.

What Is a Career Portfolio?

A career portfolio is nothing more than a professional, high-quality binder that is filled with information about you and your education, experiences, and accomplishments.

It’s a resume on steroids, featuring sections like these:

    • Career Summary and Goals
    • Key Skills and Abilities
    • Work Samples
    • Testimonials/Recommendations
    • Awards/Honors
    • Licensures and Certifications

When you create a career portfolio—which, I’ll concede, takes a fair amount of time and energy—you start to understand just how much you do have and how much you do have to offer to a prospective employer.

You become the first person you convince, if you weren’t convinced already.

That alone gives you a huge job-search boost.

But the true value of your career portfolio, in my own experience as an introvert, will become much more clear in your job interviews.

A Career Portfolio Shows What You Have

Suddenly, when you’re on the hot seat and feeling uneasy about the prospect of not only talking about yourself but, well, bragging about yourself, you will have a prop—your career portfolio—that will serve as your wingman or wingwoman.

Instead of merely telling your interviewer(s) what you have to offer, you’ll be able to show them.

And just like “Show and Tell” in grade school was far more appealing than some sort of “Just Tell” ever would have been, “Show and Tell” in the world of work is more inviting—and more effective—than words alone could ever be.

Know, too, that your career portfolio offers another key bonus: evidence to back up your claims.

It’s one thing, for example, to say you manage projects well.

It’s quite another to show pictures of a past successful project.

To say nothing of the congratulatory email from your supervisor—which, like the other elements of your career portfolio, will do your bragging for you.

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