Back to news

The how, what, when and who to include in your marketing portfolio.

The how, what, when and who to include in your marketing portfolio

I recruit across a broad range of graduate / entry-level digital and marketing roles, and the question I am most asked by candidates is should I have a portfolio of my work and should I take it to interview. ​


​The simple answer to both is yes and I am going to outline in this article how to put your first portfolio together, what to include and who to ask about including work related samples in your portfolio.

How to put your portfolio together

In today's digital age many people store their marketing work in PDF format or in the cloud which is great when you are submitting applications electronically. What happens though when you go to a face-to-face meeting? In this instance I would suggest using a formal business folder with inserts to put paper copies of your PDF's in. Definitely print in colour as you want this portfolio to have a WOW factor and think of whether you want to present the examples chronologically or thematically.

What to include in your portfolio

Firstly, look at the work you completed for projects at college/university. Does this showcase your full design and marketing capability? If so, definitely include this. If this is tricky, think about a brand you are keen on and put together a rebrand or a revamp so that you can show an employer what you can offer them. This is something you should be thinking about and implementing. Being able to show a recruiter visual examples of what you have learnt and what you can bring to an employer will mark you out from the crowd. This is especially the case in the digital world. We all have access to social media sites and setting up a website to showcase your skills not only allows a future employer to see your skills levels in programs such as HTML but also your creative skills in terms of formatting and layout. If setting up your own web page seems like an expense too far, what about volunteering your time to help a charity with their website or a family member who is running their own business? Hey presto you have some active sites to put on your CV and include in your portfolio.

If the digital space is where you want to build your career, don't be afraid to include relevant information from your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts (note here the word ‘relevant’ and refer back to my earlier post on online profiles). I worked with a colleague who was passionate about working in digital marketing and social media but she didn't have any career experience so she wrote a blog about her time spent travelling. Not only was a great way to stay in touch with family and friends but it gave her a ready made portfolio of her writing style which really helped when it came to applying for work on her return.

So now you have something to put in your portfolio, how do you collate it and perhaps more importantly when do you decide to attach it to applications?

When to include your portfolio

There is no easy answer to the "when" as I would always recommend tailoring your portfolio to each application. I know it seems likes a lot of work, but it will pay dividends if you do. Let’s take an example; there is a Web Designer role you have seen online. Maybe it is asking for HTML, JavaScript and some of the Adobe packages. You have some of these skills but not all of them. The advert tells you that they are looking for someone with strong HTML coding skills. This is a tick as you have lots of experience in this and can easily prove this if tested. However the ad also asks for creative flair – ‘Oh no’ you think. ‘How am I going to prove this?’ Now to those of you who have a portfolio where you have some landing page samples or even your own website, demonstrating creative flair is no problem. You attach the link with your application and see your chances of securing a response increase. If you haven't anything to attach, the task is harder. Of courseyou can write a full cover letter which will showcase your copywriting skills and perhaps get a response, but there are no guarantees and you would be limiting your chances of being successful.

Of course the above example and advice is mainly tailored to those who don't have a lot of commercial experience, but the "when to attach" question still applies to those who have more experience and to my mind becomes the more important question. If you have built a good amount of web pages, online marketing campaigns across a diverse group of sectors think about what are the best examples to use. If you are applying for an Online Marketing role within a retail company with a strong online presence and you have worked in a similar business, definitely attach the relevant examples as it will show that you have thought through why you are the right person for the role and backed it up with evidence which will always get you response. I have recently placed a high-level Marketing candidate; they took the time to prepare a portfolio of relevant examples which they took to their face-to-face interview with my client. The interview went like a dream because their portfolio enabled the client to see specific examples of why the candidate was right for this. Inmy mind, this is the perfect example of how a marketing portfolio can enhance your application and interview process.

Who has ownership of your portfolio

Of course, it is important to remember that if you are using examples from current employers in your portfolio, make sure that you have permission to include them and use them if the work is of a confidential nature. I would start by checking your employment contract which should highlight the ownership of intellectual property rights to your work. Client confidentiality is always important especially if you are seeking a new role with a competitor and so judge wisely. The key tenet here is if the material is in the public domain then you can include it. If you are working on future campaigns, no matter how tempting or valuable it could be to your application, my advice is not to include it. Current data protection and intellectual property laws are stringent and in my opinion disclosing confidential material to secure a new role would not reflect well on any of the parties involved, never mind the potential financial cost to you!

A marketing portfolio which is current and relevant will always highlight your application in a positive way. In today's competitive job market, using your portfolio as part of your CV alongside the majority of your applications will ensure you stand out from the crowd.