A portfolio and a CV are not the same thing, but they are complementary.

In the UK job search landscape, there are key differences between a portfolio and a CV. While the two are similar in function, that is, they're both used to showcase a skill set for a prospective role, the CV provides a relevant overview of qualifications and experience and a portfolio provides the evidence.

In this article, we'll explore why a CV and a portfolio are not the same thing and the key differences between the two.

What is a CV?

Simply put, a CV is a written overview of your work experience, skills, and qualifications, and is often an essential component for any job application.

A CV structure is flexible and can be bent to your unique situation. However, there are sections employers expect to see regardless, including:

  • Name, professional title, and contact details

  • Personal profile 

  • Key skills

  • Experience and employment history

  • Education and qualifications

Typically, a CV offers an overview of the last 10 years of your employment history and your qualifications. While you might have a generic copy of your CV on file, when submitting it for a job application it should always be tailored to the vacancy at hand. 

In summary, the perfect CV is a targeted, professional document, no longer than two pages, designed to sell your skills, abilities and achievements to potential employers. 

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio, which is sometimes referred to as a professional or career portfolio, is a collection of your work that demonstrates your skills and abilities. They are very common in creative roles, such as design and writing, and even teaching, project management and technology.

Portfolios can sometimes be referred to as creative CVs, and as a result, the portfolio may also include an overview of qualifications and work experience.

A portfolio can come in physical format but is more likely to be digital. For example, it may be a personal website hosting examples of your work, it could be a content management system like Dribbble or clippings.me, or it may even be a PDF. 

To summarise, a portfolio contains evidence of your work throughout your career, such as photos, designs, articles, project templates or lesson plans, and you can include a link to it in your CV.  

The difference between a portfolio and a CV

Ultimately, a portfolio and a CV are not the same thing, but the portfolio complements the CV. 

If you were a graphic designer and your CV listed your experience in design roles over the years, the projects you were part of, the types of designs you produced and the software you can use, it's likely you would have crafted a strong CV for a graphic design position.

However, if you want to make the sale, a portfolio can come in handy. If you include a link to your portfolio, showcasing a collection of your graphic design work, prospective employers will see your talent first-hand, leaving no room for doubt. 

How to create a portfolio

Most of us are familiar with the basics of writing a CV, but perhaps less so with creating a portfolio. A portfolio can help to give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs, as they're the best way to professionally show off your skills and abilities. This is especially so for recent graduates or school leavers with little work experience, as you can include samples of projects completed during your studies.

If you're looking to create an online portfolio, first be clear about the objective. For example, is its purpose to highlight your best graphic design work or are you showing off your insights on a blog? Next, consider the hosting and design. If you haven't created a portfolio before, a hosted content management system is best. Then choose samples of work to include. Aim for 10 to 20 pieces of your best work and organise them logically. Finally, include a biography to showcase any relevant achievements, along with your contact details. In addition to visually demonstrating your expertise, the portfolio can also provide a great talking point in interviews.

Using a portfolio to supplement your CV is a surefire way to strengthen your job application. If you have a CV and a portfolio but aren't sure of the best way to link the two, our professional CV writing service can help. 

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