Spring Into Resume Writing: But, Don’t Forget the Portfolio

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Yep, those resumes start popping up like mushrooms in the spring again. We spend a lot of time in the blog talking about resumes, cover letters, marketing approaches to land the first interview, internship or job. But, that’s what is of interest to budding professionals.

I’d like to emphasize the importance of developing a portfolio of material to reside alongside the resume. As someone who deals with the written word, you need to show potential employers, your written material. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, my experience is that young people put a lot of time and effort into the resume and cover letter, but do little to develop a strong portfolio of material. This is a mistake. You must sell yourself through your work.

A few questions and answers about the public relations portfolio:

Does all the material in there have to be published work?
It would be ideal, but many young people don’t have enough to impress, so they need to show school work, too. Well done press releases for classes, fact sheets, even communication plans or audits are good to show.

Do I need to leave the portfolio with them?
Well, that’s a good question. Ideally, yes, but there is a risk it might get lost or misplaced. So, I’d take the bound portfolio but leave only “representative” copies of what’s in there. Better yet, direct them to your web page you’ve created to highlight your good stuff. That’s impressive.

What, specifically, should be in a PR portfolio?
Representative samples of the tools of the trade: A press release or two, a pitch letter, a fact sheet, a backgrounder, a communication plan or a marketing piece. You can also include samples of special event plans, annual reports, video news releases or newsletters you’ve worked on or written.

How should I organize and present the work?
Don’t go cheapo on the binder. Make it nice, professional, leather, slick. Put some time into the typography on the cover, make the layout look nice. Organize it with the best stuff first, in case you don’t get to the later stuff. It must exude professionalism and pride. Also, sometimes creative packaging is a good attention-getter, but don’t go overboard on that.

At the end of the day, no one particular item, idea, answer or sample will land you a job. It’s the cumulative impact of the total package – your maturity, grace under questioning, variety of experiences, samples of your work and quite possibly a writing test and AP style quiz.

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