RE: Samples vs. Portfolio

Subject: RE: Samples vs. Portfolio
From: David Hailey <david -dot- hailey -at- usu -dot- edu>
To: Pirjo Tinat <ptinat -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 2 May 2008 09:16:19 -0600

Pirjo Tinat says:
"My problem with samples or portfolio (and, to a lesser degree, also with writing tests) is that you see only the end result, not the thinking that has been put behind it. How has that sample been produced? How can you see whether styles or structure have been used consistently?"

I completely agree. I also agree with your additional comments. If I bring a portfolio to an interview, how do you know which parts of it I did? As you know, many projects that are worth showing are produced by groups. Why bother with a portfolio that may say less about your skills than the skills of your peers. And why bother taking a portfolio if you endanger original work. So this does not argue against your points, it adds to them. Worse, I once took a traditional portfolio to an interview. The interviewer begged me to let him keep it overnight to show the company VPs. Naturally, he lost it. I didn't get the job, and I never saw the portfolio again. Still there is an answer to the answer to the question "why bother with a portfolio?" It can be found in the portfolio itself.

A satellite portfolio is a bound book that you, the interviewee, will have "published." The book, shows a record of all your best work as it demonstrates your best capabilities right now. If it is well done, it becomes a meta-document that demonstrates how good you are, not by showing your best work but by being your best work.

The satellite portfolio will be addressed to the interviewer, with a title something like, "A Selection of the Published work of David Hailey, for Review by Caterpillar Tractor Company." With this document, you show your best work, and you show that you care a great deal about the interview.

By having it in the interview, you have the ability to answer the interviewer's questions by showing examples of relevant work. Often you can use it to direct the interview.

Because it is designed to leave behind, if it is well done, it will stand out as a ongoing reminder of your many and varied skills when compared to your competitions' resumes (that will share space with it). It will be hard to throw away. In fact, if it is good enough, the interviewer might keep it is a model for his or her future applications.

So while I agree about the importance of the interview, and about the traditional portfolio's inability to really parse your skills from those of your peers, a satellite portfolio is a publication that (IMHO) overcomes that problem and gives you an edge in an environment where we all need all of the edges we can get. And if you are looking at a $60,000/year job, the investment in time and money is insignificant.

David E. Hailey, Jr., Ph.D.
Associate Professor -- Professional and Technical Writing
Utah State University
dhailey -at- english -dot- usu -dot- edu


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Re: Samples vs. Portfolio: From: Pirjo Tinat

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