What’s a Work Portfolio? Everything You Need to Know (+ Examples)

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February 28, 2024
Edited by
Camille Trent
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min read

3 Key Takeaways

  • A work portfolio is a collection of your work used to showcase your abilities and experience.
  • Draw inspiration from online portfolios to get started. (Six portfolio samples included here.)
  • Teal’s AI Resume Builder complements your portfolio for a comprehensive application.

In today’s competitive job market, how can you hope to stand out when applying for the same job as hundreds—sometimes thousands—of others? By showing your value, not just stating it. Enter: The work portfolio.

Commonly used in many creative and tech industries, the work portfolio is a mighty job tool to help you sell your skills and lift your chances of landing the role. Without one, you may just be a floating resume among a sea of creative portfolios.

But is a work portfolio something you need? And if so, how do you create one—a powerful one, at that? Here’s a comprehensive look at what goes into one:

So, what is a work portfolio?

A work portfolio is a collection of your work used to showcase your abilities and experience to recruiters, clients, or potential employers. It may also be referred to as a career portfolio, professional portfolio, or job portfolio.

Your professional portfolio is a visual representation of your craft, demonstrating your talent, skills, hard work, achievements, education, case studies, and much more. It is typically used alongside a resume and cover letter. 

However, not every industry requires a professional portfolio be sent with job applications; they’re typically required in the hiring process for the arts, creative fields, and tech roles—industries that require work samples as proof of your skills and accomplishments.

Let’s say you’re a writer for fintech and finance companies. You see a full-time content role for Investopedia and you think you’re the perfect person to write for them.

Somewhere in the job application, you share the link to your online portfolio, complete with impressive pieces you’ve written for NerdWallet, American Express, Klarna, and Forbes. You should also highlight the achievements and awards these pieces earned in both your portfolio and resume.

Teal’s AI Resume Achievements helps you write those job-specific, metric-rich achievements for your job application in a matter of minutes.

Steps to create a work portfolio

Different roles may require different kinds of career portfolios. Yours could include personal information, a skills summary, full projects, reports, images, and much more. Or, it may be a no-words-needed visual collection of your best work.

Here’s how to make online portfolios, no matter your profession:

Step 1: Decide what work to display.

For example:

  • An artist should display artwork.
  • A writer should display published articles and readership numbers.
  • A graphic designer should display logos.
  • A teacher should display lesson plans and test results. 

Step 2: Find a place to host your career portfolio.

Here are some options:

  • Job Platforms: Many online job platforms like Upwork and networking platforms like your LinkedIn page offer options for uploading portfolio pieces directly onto their site. 
  • Free Portfolio Hosts: Many sites, such as Clippings, provide free ways to host an online portfolio without any design downtime required. 
  • Paid Portfolio & Website Hosts: Alternatively, you can create your own website with easy-to-use website builders such as HubSpot, Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress. The paid subscriptions to these websites offer templates for creating portfolios. This may be more beneficial if you have a lot of projects with multiple layers to showcase. These options will give your portfolio a more professional look and feel. 
  • Design Platforms (PDFs): Many people opt for custom-designed portfolios via tools like Canva or Adobe Portfolio to create something unique. In this case, you’d be sending the potential employer something to download, rather than a URL to view online. 

Step 3: Provide additional context to accompany your work samples.

Imagine you’re presenting your work in person. Have any notes worth including? For example, consider adding a summary of how the piece was successful or if the project earned you a promotion.

Step 4: Add a personal statement. 

Think about what title you plan on using and how you want to introduce yourself to the reader. Include a personal or career summary as a section or an entire page. (This depends on how much you’re comfortable sharing with the world.)

Step 5: Include contact information. 

A phone number and email address is sufficient for job seekers, but freelancers may want to include an online form as well. A form will help freelancers collect the information they need to reach out to leads, as opposed to only letting leads reach out to them. 

Bonus step: Update and tailor your portfolio periodically. Get feedback, and revisit it to ensure there are no broken links, your samples are relevant, and review areas of improvement. 

The Art of Creating a Tailored Job Portfolio

When you’re vying for the attention of prospective employers amongst hundreds or even thousands, sticking your best work into a document or webpage is not enough. 

Here’s the ticket to get your application to the top of the stack: Choose your best work related to the dream role.

Professional portfolio tips (by role)

Front-end developer: a portfolio as structured and well-organized as their code.

Teacher: a portfolio as educational and personable as their teaching style. 

Brand designer: a portfolio that demonstrates a passion for color schemes, visual storytelling, and aesthetics.

And so on. To give you a better idea, here’s an example of how to tailor your portfolio to a job description: 

Job Description: Residential Architect

Join our busy studio as an Architect, contributing your expertise to exciting regional projects. As a Residential Architect, you will play a key role in designing and planning homes and housing complexes. Bring your passion for innovative design, attention to detail, and commitment to creating spaces that enhance the quality of living.


  • ARB registration and a proven track record as a Residential Architect.
  • Proficiency in AutoCAD, Revit, or similar design software.
  • Strong communication skills for effective collaboration with clients and project teams.
  • In-depth knowledge of residential building regulations, construction methods, and materials.
  • Passion for creating functional, beautiful residential spaces.

As an architect creating a portfolio of work samples for this role, you’ll want to make sure you showcase your design and construction experience in the housing industry. You may also want to highlight your experience with AutoCAD and/or Revit.

Find a balance between highlighting your best accomplishments and work samples, but not including too much. 

Building a tailored resume that showcases your awards, projects, and achievements isn’t always easy, even for seasoned professionals. Make the process breezier with Teal’s AI Resume Builder, your tool to quickly generate personalized resumes tailored to each job application. 

Check out these online portfolio examples

Let’s look at some sample professional portfolios to help develop your own collection of work. Whether you’re going the traditional route or want to create something new, use these examples as inspiration to assemble something that feels all your own yet is also designed to capture the attention of potential employers. 

Photography Portfolio sample portfolio: Max Montgomery

photography sample portfolio

If you believe in your work sells itself, why not keep things simple? Max’s approach to showcasing his work is effortless: a scroll-worthy page of gorgeous photos on a custom website. The key? They’re grouped by niches: celebrity portraits, travel, and point-and-shoot. When it comes to photography portfolios, you can let the images do the talking. 

UX Portfolio sample portfolio: Dayla Green

ux designer sample portfolio

How do you summarize who you are without being too sparse? Or worse, boring your reader to death. Dayla Green uses the hero section to summarize their background using direct, punchy language. Not a word too much nor too few, it gives a recruiter or prospective employer what they need to understand their experience and what they’re about.

Made on Wix, David’s portfolio is interactive and visual. It showcases six of their best pieces, followed by working methods and hard-to-miss contact info. Bonus? A “fun facts” section to show who they are as a person and what they do in their free time—not to mention showing unique UX design abilities! 

Journalist sample portfolio: David Blackwood

journalist sample portfolio

Made using Journo Portfolio, David Blackwood takes advantage of a portfolio website to easily post his published words in an organized manner. It offers professional photos to get a feel for his personality, plus three clear ways to learn more about him: About, Work, and Contact. With a list of recent articles, plus a few blurbs about himself, it has all the basics down.

Content Writer sample portfolio: Lucy Thorpe

content writer sample portfolio

Lucy simply added a portfolio page to her WordPress website using a plugin. Since her website will do the selling for her and provide more details on who she is as a writer and employee, her portfolio page solely focuses on her published works.

Including too many pieces can be overwhelming to a potential employer who needs to see relevant samples, but Lucy’s page has a simple solution: The opportunity to toggle between niches (e.g., beauty, cosmetics, marketing, etc.). Anyone landing on her site can narrow down the content they wish to view, and Lucy can send a customized page to potential employers in just a few clicks.

Copywriter sample portfolio: Mads Hanna

copywriter sample portfolio

Designed on Canva, Mads creates an interactive PDF, taking you on a journey to get to know her—her hard and soft skills, client roster, services, and process. She infused client testimonials and copywriting samples throughout the pages and filled the pages with color and personality.

This portfolio example is a creative illustration of how to roll your resume and work samples into one deliverable, perfect for freelancers and creatives who need to demonstrate their abilities and work ethic more than their employment history. Bonus: A templated creation will be super easy to update often, tailoring it to each client at a time. 

Translator sample portfolio: Joachim Lépine

translator sample portfolio

Joachim delivers a professional and interactive approach to showcasing his experience and translation skills. He uses imagery to show his published works, which you can click on to view the live pieces. 

Made on HeyZine Flipbooks, he takes advantage of a portfolio creation site to make things easy. Sorting through the pages is a breeze – sound effects included!

With Teal, you can use our AI features to help you write and rewrite descriptions for achievements, professional summaries, and more to customize resumes, cover letters, and portfolios.

What about templates for creating online portfolios?

As mentioned, there are many ways to get started. One simple way is to grab yourself a job portfolio template and drop in your recent or best work.

How do you choose a portfolio layout? TL;DR: It depends on your profession. 

  • Freelance illustrator: May need to fit a lot of visuals on a single page for an attention-grabbing, photo-tastic way to land a new gig.
  • Project manager or web designer: May need a project-based format where the reader can click on a single image that opens a detailed look at the deliverables, both visual and written.
  • Professional photographer: May want a stellar “About Me” section, followed by thumbnail images that lead to full collections.

Luckily, most portfolio-building websites include templates in line with industry standards.

website builders
Website builder templates via Squarespace 

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind when building your first professional portfolio:

Work portfolio best practices

  • DO prepare a tailored (sample) portfolio and a comprehensive portfolio
  • DO only select your best work for the role you wish to land
  • DO use clear images of your work and a professional photo of yourself
  • DO include professional achievements and/or skills

Work portfolio mistakes to avoid

  • DON’T include your oldest work or personal work
  • DON’T add too much about your career history
  • DON’T include very similar works 
  • DON’T present work that is not fully your own (without giving proper credit)

Who needs a career portfolio?

Not all jobs require a professional portfolio to be sent with online applications; those that require portfolios in the hiring process are typically creative fields such as designers and writers and technical fields such as developers and architects. 

They’re also common among artistic jobs such as models and makeup artists. In these cases, the job seeker may want to bring a physical copy of their portfolio in a binder to the interview. Here are the most common use cases for job portfolios:

  • Writers: Content writers, journalists, and the like will want to showcase relevant writing samples in an online portfolio.
  • Copywriters: Similarly, copywriters will want a collection of their best work such as ads, taglines, websites, and more. They may want to note publications they have previously worked for.
  • Graphic designers: Designers may want an interesting portfolio to showcase logos, typography, and print and web design. They may also include a look into their background or design philosophy. 
  • Artists: Artists need a place to display their artwork to either land a job or sell their work to the public. Many artists nowadays opt to use social media, such as Instagram, as a portfolio—including finished works, works in progress, and behind-the-scenes looks into their creative process. 
  • Actors: While actors are more known to have highlight reels, they may also need portfolios to showcase their best performances, show off their work history, and provide contact information.
  • Architects: Architects need to show professional samples of their designs, technical drawings, and schemes.

However, online portfolios are growing in popularity for a wide range of freelancers as a way to stand out from the competition, show off your personal brand, and demonstrate your professional achievements to land more clients.

The importance of adding achievements to your professional portfolio and resume

A rookie mistake is to showcase personal work you’re proud of—your short story published on Medium, a family portrait you took last Thanksgiving, that quirky quiz app you built for your buddies to burn time. 

While you should feel proud of completing passion projects, consider putting these personal items in a separate portfolio—one you can share with family and friends.

Your professional portfolio needs to be laser-focused on your career goals. Thus, it should only contain work that’s relevant to the position you are applying for. 

For example, a content writer applying to a SaaS role shouldn’t include past lifestyle pieces. A graphic designer applying to a UX design role shouldn’t include their 3D work. You get the idea.

In addition, you’ll want to include professional achievements. How did the piece perform? Did it earn you a promotion or an award? List those accolades. Recruiters are looking for evidence that your work doesn’t just look good but helps move a business forward, too. 

Work achievements should be quantifiable and measurable. In the work samples above, we saw metric-rich achievements such as “5-star acclaimed [books]” as well as achievements for their personal brands, such as “25 LinkedIn recs,” and “featured on sites such as Refinery29 and PopSugar.”

If you’re an experienced professional, you may include achievements such as: 

  • Reduced application load time by 32% through code optimization and performance enhancements
  • Generated a 117% increase in website traffic
  • Completed a complex project three weeks ahead of schedule and 10% under budget
  • Won the "Best Photography" award
  • Achieved a 43% increase in sales within the first quarter

If you're feeling stuck, you can use the AI integration feature within Teal's AI Resume Builder to generate work achievements!

Showcase your professional achievements with Teal

To summarize, a career portfolio demonstrates your work experience by showcasing your creative works such as photos, articles, designs, projects, and more. An online portfolio can be created as a PDF (print or digital), via template using an online tool, or as a custom website. You can include a portfolio link on your LinkedIn profile, and in your resume and CV.

In a competitive job market, sending in a cohesive, comprehensive application is key to getting the attention of prospective employers. You can use Teal's AI Resume Builder to help you build an effective, achievement-rich resume that complements your career portfolio.

Sign up for Teal for free today to give your impressive work a place to shine. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key elements to include in a work portfolio?

A well-crafted work portfolio should include a clear introduction of yourself, a selection of your best work samples, descriptions that provide context to each piece, testimonials or references if available, and a conclusion that summarizes your skills and experience. Ensure it's organized, visually appealing, and relevant to your industry.

How often should I update my work portfolio?

Your work portfolio should be updated regularly to reflect your most current work and achievements. A good practice is to review and update it every six months or whenever you complete a significant project. This ensures that potential employers or clients are seeing the most up-to-date representation of your abilities.

Can a work portfolio be digital, or does it need to be physical?

Work portfolios can be both digital and physical, but digital portfolios are becoming more prevalent due to their accessibility and ease of sharing. A digital portfolio can be a website, a PDF, or an online platform specifically designed for showcasing work. Choose the format that best suits your industry and the preferences of your target audience.

Kaleena Stroud

Kaleena is a freelance copywriter enamored with helping people catapult their careers. Originally from California, she's currently based out of Barcelona, Spain. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her picnicking by the sea with her family.

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