Show and Tell — Portfolio vs. Resume

I’m not sure where my story-time idea came into play, but I’ve used the following example time and again when explaining to students the reasoning and importance of having a portfolio to complement your resume.

It’s simple, and I think it illustrates my point without much further explanation.

We all remember third grade show and tell. It’s Monday at the end of the day, and all your classmates have their new stamp collections and pet rocks on their desks.

There was always the one student who didn’t bring anything to show, but still wanted his three minutes of fame. Let’s call this boy Jack.

Jack stands in front of the class with the utmost amount of enthusiasm. He has been working with his dog the past few weekends, teaching it some new tricks. Jack tells the class the dog will sit, shake, speak and beg on command. Jack’s classmates are unimpressed. Jack’s three minutes of fame are over, and he sits down in shame.

Next to present during show and tell was Ethan. Ethan, too, wanted to share a story about training his pet. However, Ethan made the effort to bring in his dog to show off some new tricks. Ethan told the dog to sit — the dog sat. Ethan said, “shake,” — the dog shook. “Speak,” — the dog barked. Ethan left school that day the most popular kid in class. The end.

Ethan and Jack
Show and Tell

The example above reflects the situation of having the same qualifications as another job candidate. One candidate had accomplished a lot, but he was unable to show the quality of his work. The other candidate took a few extra steps to package his best clips and writing samples to give the hiring manager a taste of his capabilities.

The phrase that wraps up this post is to show (not just talk about) your accomplishments.

~unique examples to consider including in your portfolio~

  • Include a photo from a press event that documents the crowd and on-site media
  • Grab a screen shot of the Web site you developed for a student organization
  • Include a note from a client, spokesperson, etc., praising you for your quality of work
  • Paste together a page of Tweets, praising your blog and smart ideas

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7 thoughts on “Show and Tell — Portfolio vs. Resume

  1. That’s how it all goes, it doesn’t matter that you have the same or less abilities as the other candidate sitting next to you, this doesn’t have to intimidate you. What really makes the difference is the way you put yourself out there, how much effort are you willing to invest in you, in the building of your young image.

    The example that you gave perfectly illustrated these things in a simple way. I realize more and more that as the industry of public relations is continuously evolving, so should be the way in which you enter this market. The portfolio should be a very good pass to this.

    Great post, Ryan.

  2. Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep your example in mind when younger students ask me why it’s important to bring porfolio pieces to internship interviews.

  3. Ryan – Completely agree. I think as professionals, we could be better about saving these things during work too. Heaven forbid if something were to happen at your job, there’s no going back to capture it all.

    Will be submitting a post soon. I haven’t forgotten :)

  4. Ryan– this is a great blog! I am a junior at the University of Maryland. I have been working on my PR portfolio since my freshmen year. I love your tip about including a note from a client/spokesperson (in my case internship supervisor or professor) praising your work. You can get recommendations on LinkedIn for people to see, but I never thought about highlighting the same way in my e-portfolio or even my hard-copy portfolio. Thanks for the great advice!

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am a college student and even though the Professors and teachers always tell you to start making your portfolio now, it has never really sunk into me the importance of having a portfolio. The example you used with Jack and Ethan is great. Even though it might be common sense to “show, not tell”, your post emphasized how critical it is to not just be enthusiastic, but to back up your enthusiasm with work examples. Thanks again for sharing.

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