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What is a “portfolio” and why is it important? Webster's Dictionary defines portfolio simply as a “collection.” We know that many professionals collect portfolios of their work. Artists, architects, designers, writers, and others all use a portfolio to demonstrate their competence and creativity in their chosen fields. Anyone can benefit from collecting evidence of abilities and pieces of professional work. This collection (or portfolio) can demonstrate to potential employers one's skills and abilities or may be part of an application for advanced training or graduate education. In addition, it can function as a professional development diary or journal.

We suggest that you use Building Professionals as a tool to document your professional progress. As your portfolio grows and you add more and more pieces of your professional work, you will find it quite useful throughout the job-search process. The portfolio you create can help you discover your abilities in relation to a desired position. It can also assist you in creating a resume and cover letter that accurately express your qualifications for an advertised position. An employer may not ask to see your portfolio, but bringing your portfolio with you to interviews may help you recount your skills and experiences to the interviewer.

Employers are looking for candidates who have a variety of skills. Knowing the body of work for your field is no longer enough to secure a job. The portfolio is designed to help you think critically about your skills and can indicate areas of growth. Employers look for a variety of qualities in potential employees, including those that appear in the following list of desirable employee traits. You will find it helpful to refer to this list as you build your portfolio.

Ability to run meetings


Attention to detail

Civic responsibility




Critical thinking

Cultural competence

Diversity sensitivity

Effective writing skills

Ethical decision making

Financial management


Goal setting

International travel

Interpersonal communication

Knowledge of bureaucracy


Personal & professional balance

Personal initiative

Planning & organizational skills

Presentational skills

Prior work experience

Problem-solving capabilities

Professional image

Public speaking

Quick thinking

Sense of humor


Technology competencies

Time management

Understanding of company expectations

Procter and Gamble grouped these qualities into the following five categories. We use these categories throughout this book as a way to guide your thinking about your professional development.

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