You are happily working in your career as an administrative assistant. Your days are filled with projects and tasks that require meeting deadlines, juggling priorities, and managing crises. How are you supposed to make a professional portfolio, too? Try these 8 tips.
1. Make a File
You just open a file on your computer or in your desk drawer. Label it "Career Portfolio." Use Dropbox or OneNote or your mobile app. Just pick a spot to save items relating to your career that you can easily navigate.
Now you have a designated place to put the items in your portfolio. Nothing fancy—just one spot that is easy for you to remember. Make a file because you deserve it!
2. Remind Yourself
Set up a reminder on your calendar to work on your portfolio. Give yourself a workable schedule, whether it's monthly, quarterly, every six months—at least once a year. With set reminders, you will be more likely to follow through and maintain your portfolio.
Again, nothing fancy here. Set aside a half-hour timeslot on a regular basis to work on your portfolio and keep it up to date. You may need more when you first begin. Once you have your first presentation completed, maintaining your portfolio will take less time.
3. Suggestions of Career Items to Keep
- Work samples: a brochure you designed, a web page you maintain, a chart, a report, a spreadsheet
- Thank you notes/compliments from bosses, from other executives, and co-workers whether handwritten, in letter form, or emailed
- Thank you notes from customers
- Certificates received for accomplishments
- Certificates received for completing workshops or seminars or college courses
- News articles about you and/or your work
- Work-related articles or blogs authored by you
- List of recently read publications (books, articles, magazines) hopefully shows not only your enthusiasm for your industry and your growth potential but also your other interests
- Recent performance evaluations—last two or three years
- Attendance records/awards
- Volunteer awards or recognition
4. What to Do With Items
As soon as you receive a thank you or a certificate, copy it, scan it, or place it into your designated file. Do not fret over how big or little the item is, just save it first.
When you create that wonderful promotional flyer, keep a copy for your file. That great spreadsheet or presentation—put a copy in your file.
Just be sure that you do not divulge confidential information in your items.
Do this as an ongoing process—this is what you do often during the year, not what your reminders are set for. Your reminders are set to work on your presentation—see #5.
5. Presentation Is Everything
Invest in a nice leather portfolio with plastic sheet protectors for your originals. When you get that reminder, take the items you've been dropping in that file and place your best ones in your portfolio.
Make at least one copy in a regular binder or copy to a CD/flash drive that you could leave with an interviewer. Or, if you want, scan it into a website you have created and give the website address only to those you want to have it.
Do not leave your original hard copy with an interviewer.
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6. Other Items for Your Portfolio
- Table of Contents
- Mission Statement
- Career Items
- Section Summaries
7. Tips on Set Up
You can keep updating your Table of Contents and can add two or three sentences summarizing each section.
You can keep your portfolio chronologically or by skillset. You could place items in order of when you created or received them. Or, you could divide your portfolio into section areas such as customer service, marketing, website management, organizational skills, education, or professional development.
The idea is for you to be able to readily find the example during a performance review or an interview.
Great Example of How to Use Your Portfolio in an Interview
8. Maintain Your Portfolio
- Only keep your best work—be sure it is error-free.
- Keep your portfolio neat and clean.
- Maintain your work items in order—a random, thrown-together-at-the-last-minute look is not the look you want to go for.
- Do not include items that are too personal. Keep it professional.
Ideas for Creating an Online Portfolio
A professional portfolio is necessary for all secretaries or administrative assistants, whether you have 25 years of experience or only 25 months. Every administrative assistant should maintain a professional portfolio for three important reasons.
First, the portfolio is a great record that should make you feel good about your career. Follow the tips above to maintain a Career Portfolio file. Second, you can use it at performance review time or job interview time. A professional presentation of your portfolio will impress your supervisor or potential employer. Third, even if you decide not to use it, the process will help you look at your career and make any needed adjustments.
Reflection is the first step on the ladder of improvement. Start climbing today!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.