Whether you’re searching for a new job, making a case for a promotion or raise, showcasing your skills during your annual review, or simply want to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities that may come your way, a professional portfolio is an invaluable tool for any administrative professional.
Your portfolio should include your resume, letters of recommendation, awards and recognitions, past performance reviews, and certifications. However, one of the most crucial parts of your portfolio is your work sample section.
Work samples demonstrate that you have the ability to do what you say you can. They allow you to show rather than tell. But first you need to get your work samples up to P.A.R.
P.A.R. is an acronym that explains, when necessary, a work sample in your professional portfolio. It stands for:
- P – Project or problem
- A – Action
- R – Result
For each item, summarize the skills the project or work sample illustrates. Some items are self-explanatory, and don’t require a lot of additional details. But there may be some work samples in your portfolio that, when someone else reviews them, require clarification. You never want a potential client or employer to look at a work sample and think, “This is nice, but what exactly is it, and why should I care?”
Some questions you can ask yourself to bring your portfolio up to P.A.R include:
- What was the project or the problem that I worked on?
- What was the action that I took? If working with a team, what was my personal contribution to the process?
- What was the result or outcome? It’s ok to share things that happen in a team environment if you are an active part of that team. Just specify what your role was and how you contributed.
I also recommend including a summary of the specific skills the work sample highlights at the end of the explanation so it’s obvious for the person who is looking at it.
Portfolio items that probably do not need additional explanation:
- Personality type assessments (if you include the entire report)
- Strengths assessments (if you include the entire report)
- Professional recommendations
- Copies of college degrees
- Copies of training certificates, especially if you can include the course outline or learning objectives
- References list
Portfolio items that typically do need additional explanation:
- Work samples
- Professional affiliations
- Honors or awards received
- Volunteer projects
For each work sample, include an overview sheet which details the following:
- PROJECT or PROBLEM that you are showcasing
- ACTION that you personally took or how you contributed to it
- RESULT of the project or the how the problem was resolved
Summarize the skills this project or work sample illustrates at the bottom.
How P.A.R. Looks When Applied to Your Work Samples
For this work sample, I would include a screenshot of the actual project (as shown here) or a representative image of a generic OneNote notebook to give it some visual appeal.
Once you have P.A.R. applied to your work sample, here are some options for sharing it in your professional portfolio:
- Create or upload one single PDF of this work sample that includes the P.A.R. description and screenshots or visuals that represent the project. This format would be good for annual performance reviews or job interview situations.
- Upload the PDF to your social portfolio on LinkedIn and/or your digital portfolio site.
- Embed the P.A.R. description and upload the screenshots to a page on your digital portfolio site. Here are two examples of this: https://julieperrine.wordpress.com/professional-portfolio/writing/ and https://julieperrinedigitalportfolio.wordpress.com/procedures/
Applying P.A.R. to your work samples makes it simple for anyone reviewing your professional portfolio to understand the purpose of your sample and the specific skills it’s meant to showcase. A bit of extra explanation is always better than not enough!
If you’re looking for more help creating your portfolio, my latest book, Prove Your Skills! With a Powerful Professional Portfolio is exactly what you need. You can get your copy and download the free resources by clicking here.
© 2023 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity, and Become a Procedures Pro: The Admin’s Guide to Developing Effective Office Systems and Procedures.