Choosing pictures to be included in a portfolio

Including photos in your professional portfolio can be a nice addition. Check out these ten tips for helping youth select pictures for an employment or career portfolio.

An employability or career portfolio is a collection of exhibits that demonstrate your skills and achievements. A portfolio is a valuable tool in your job hunt toolbox. Whether presented in a tangible three-ring binder, or online, it is important to think about what you include.

Although pictures are part of a portfolio, a portfolio should never be confused with a picture album or scrapbook. Albums and scrapbooks hold memories. Portfolios are used as a tool to help you land a job or career. For more than 100 years, people in the U.S. have used the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As you think about using pictures in a portfolio, consider how each picture will represent the right words and image of you.

When choosing pictures for your portfolio, these ten tips from Michigan State University Extension may help:

  1. Know your goal. What is the purpose of your portfolio? How will you use it? What sort of job, career or educational experience do you plan to pursue with the creation of your portfolio?
  2. This might sound silly, but make sure you are in the pictures. Do not select photos that only show your projects, people you traveled with, or your teammates.
  3. Use high quality photos. A blurry or distorted picture will reflect negatively on you.
  4. Make sure all individuals in the pictures you choose are appropriately dressed for the purpose of your portfolio. If in doubt, check our 4-H dress code.
  5. Make sure that anyone photographed is a “whole” person. There is nothing worse than selecting a sports team photo or 4-H club membership photo and some of your team is missing their heads!
  6. Organize your photo exhibits based on whether it demonstrates an academic, personal management or teamwork skill. See the “Assist Youth in Creating a Portfolio for Future Use” article to learn more.
  7. Use a consistent photo size and orientation for a professional, business look.
  8. Explain the photo and what it represents. Identify the picture and the skill(s) it demonstrates.
  9. Have your portfolio reviewed before you use it in the job world. 4-H leaders, teachers, counselors and 4-H youth staff would be great people to review your work.
  10. Need more pictures with you in them? Ask your fellow 4-H members or leaders to help photograph you in the act of 4-H. Some opportunities to photograph are you with your projects, as a teen leader helping others, in the middle of a service project, etc. The opportunities are endless if you plan ahead.

The new national 4-H curriculum Build Your Future: Choices…Connections…Careers, provides resources for volunteers to teach young people about portfolios. Volunteers can find a variety of other useful resources through the career preparation section of the Michigan 4-H website.

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