Why A Success Portfolio Is Vital For Your Career

During my time as an outplacement and career transition coach, a client came into my office, opened his briefcase and dumped 20 years of performance reviews and said: “Write my resume.”

Two thoughts came to my mind. The first was that my role is to help YOU write your résumé because you’re most likely going to have to do it several times in your career. The second was how can I make it easier for folks who to write and update their résumé? That’s when I came up with the idea of a “Success Portfolio.” It’s a file where you continuously drop items documenting your accomplishments, contributions, and capabilities.

What’s the Benefit?
It’s important to have a Success Portfolio because you:

  • Need to prepare, update or revise your résumé for job search or career change
  • Want to present and promote your brand in vying for a promotion or a new position
  • Can’t expect your boss to remember everything you’ve done for your annual performance review
  • Must periodically review your accomplishments to give you a boost of self-confidence and also to evaluate what kinds of skills or experiences you need to add to make you more competitive.

What’s In It?
Here are some examples that I’ve seen in client’s Success Portfolios.

1. Work Samples / Summary of Accomplishments
At the end of a major project, summarize the details and work involved including obstacles that were overcome. State both the quantifiable and qualitative results. Include your role, your contribution and skills you used. At the end, for your benefit, write your lessons learned.
2. Performance Reviews
Keep copies of all written evaluations of your work plus your performance improvement goals as well as stretch areas. Take notes on any conversations relating to your performance, including the date and participants. Also include documentation of specific steps you’ve taken for performance improvement as well as other things that may be important in future reviews.
3. Training and Continuing Education
Save all the brochures on the educational events, workshops and webinars you attend throughout the year. This shows of your efforts to expand and hone your skills. Also, keep all certificates you’ve achieved. If you’re involved in an accelerated or honors education program note that. Now turn that knowing into doing. Keep track on how you are implementing your education and the results.
4. Applause and Positive Comments
Deposit all grateful or complimentary feedback including notes, letters, emails from colleagues or clients thanking you for a job well done. If you receive compliments in person or over the phone, don’t hesitate to ask whether they would put them in a letter or email to you. Don’t underestimate the good words of clients, co-workers and especially direct reports to enhance your reputation and brand. Since your portfolio is for your eyes only, drop in everything – it adds up to an impressive bio.
5. Professional and Civic Activities
List organizations you’re active in and committees you’re part of. Keep track of your participation and accomplishments. Add copies of your speeches you’ve done, panels you’ve been on and articles you’ve published. Don’t underrate what you’ve done in a volunteer role. Realize that the skills and experiences you’ve gained can be utilized in your present and future positions.

Smart Moves Tip

Once you’ve created your Success Portfolio, make it a regular task to review and capture what you have done over the past few days, weeks or, at most, the last month. It’s your responsibility to document your work; you can’t expect others, like your boss, to remember and recognize all that you do. Also See: Are You Prepared for the Future? Who Controls Your Destiny? Your Leadership Brand: An Asset or Liability.

Have any of you out there created a Success Portfolio or something similar? How have you used it? Any additional suggestions?

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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  1. Marcia, This is a great idea! I applied for a job a few years ago and as part of the process they wanted me to document all the courses I had taken through my career. If I had kept all the certificates in one folder I would not have had to look in four places.

    I keep a box that I made during a coaching class called a success box. We were told it was to place cards, email, notes, anything that someone had complimented us. That was years ago and I am now on my second box. 🙂

    • Jane,
      Thank you! Good for you that you are on your second “success box”. As I mentioned in the post it’s practical because it keeps everything in one place, and it’s motivational because it will give a boost to one’s self-confidence, especially for someone in a job search.