It’s officially November. The leaves are turning, my turkey collection has made its annual reappearance, and many of us are eagerly looking forward to Thanksgiving.
In the admin world, however, November usually means something different: Preparing for your annual performance review.
Not many people enjoy performance reviews. They’re a source of anxiety for admins and time consuming for executives.
Despite the disdain most of us feel toward performance reviews, they have their purpose. They give your executive an accurate picture of where you are, what you’re already doing well, and where there are opportunities to help you improve. They give you a chance to share your successes of the past year that he or she may have overlooked. And they allow you to discuss your career plan and aspirations as you set goals for the year ahead.
Performance reviews aren’t going anywhere, so you need to learn how to use them to your advantage. And in my opinion, the best way to do that is to present your professional portfolio at review time!
What is a Professional Portfolio?
A professional portfolio is an accurate visual representation of who you are, what you’ve done, and the skills you possess. It proves that you can do what you say you can with work samples, and allows you to shine a spotlight on your career highlights.
Your professional portfolio may be print, social, or digital. But I highly recommend you develop all three. My latest book, Prove Your Skills! With a Powerful Professional Portfolio, will teach you the importance of each one and show you how to create each version step-by-step. But for the purposes of this article, we’re just going to use the general term of professional portfolio.
Your professional portfolio should contain a combination of these things:
- An updated copy of your resume
- Cover letters
- Letters of recommendation
- Work samples
- Awards and recognitions
- Past performance reviews
- Personality profile summaries
- Photos or graphics to represent events, projects, organizing systems, etc.
It’s OK if you don’t have all of these things, and it’s also OK to add additional items that you feel best represent who you are as an admin. Your professional portfolio exists as a visual depiction of your career.
Using Your Professional Portfolio in a Performance Review
The best thing about a professional portfolio is that it practically becomes your performance review. There’s no need for your executive to pepper you with questions about what you’ve done over the past year when the answers are already right in front of them. For instance:
“These are some photos I took of the banquet I organized for the leadership team. As you can see from this email from the CEO, she was incredibly happy with my attention to detail.”
“And this is a copy of a template I designed for travel planning. I love it because it saves me at least 30 minutes each time I use it, and I never have to worry about forgetting something.”
With a professional portfolio, you’re not just saying you can do something; you’re offering visual proof.
If you’re working remotely or in hybrid mode, a professional portfolio is even more important, because you’re low on face-to-face time. It can be difficult for an executive to assess your performance when they don’t see you in the office each day. Your portfolio shows them that you can work independently, which is perfect for those who want to make working from home a permanent situation!
If possible, I suggest you give your executive access to your professional portfolio a week or two before your performance review. This gives them time to review it at their leisure. If this isn’t an option, pick out a handful of your best pieces to showcase when you meet, and offer to leave your portfolio with them so they can take a deeper look at it when they have more time.
What to Do if You Don’t Have a Professional Portfolio
If you don’t have a professional portfolio yet, don’t panic. It’s better to have something than nothing, so start with what you already have or can easily create, even if it’s just a copy of your resume, a few work samples, and a list of your job duties.
Then, make a concentrated effort to expand your portfolio throughout the next year. Did you receive a nice thank you letter from a client, earn a new certification, or attend a conference? Put it in your portfolio. By this time next year, you’ll have much more to show your executive – which is an accomplishment in itself!
If you need more help developing your professional portfolio, we have plenty of resources, including:
- Develop Your Digital Portfolio Course
- Create Your Print Portfolio 5-Day Challenge
- How to Create a Powerful Social Portfolio Using LinkedIn Course
- Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile 5-Day Challenge (Social Portfolio)
- Portfolio Builder
A powerful professional portfolio is the key to acing your next performance review. And it’s never too late to get started creating yours!
© 2022 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.