Show me the gold – your portfolio

As a recruiter, I had recommended Ben for a job as a programmer. He’d been programming constantly for 6 years. He could prove his skills with C++. He had produced a video game that was more complex than many in the stores at the time.

I was enthusiastic and said he was a junior, which is perfect for a simple 3 month programming job. The hiring manager agreed to interview him. I forgot (seriously just forgot) to mention that he was a high school junior, not a junior in college. Out of courtesy, the manager let the interview go on anyways.

Ben’s portfolio (the game), enthusiasm, and knowledge
were so great that the 16 year old kid got hired.

Let’s not forget he was cheap, too.

How can a high school junior get a job meant for a college junior? An enthusiastic mistake and a portfolio. You create your own enthusiasm. Don’t try to make mistakes, but do capitalize on them. The portfolio is not as easy as it looks.

Your portfolio is separate from your resume. Your resume is a list of accomplishments. It says what happened while you were at a job, a list of improvements.

A portfolio is proof. Graphic artists will take a folder (nowadays, probably electronic) full of the best examples of their work. Programmers can share websites they’ve built, or other programs that actually run, like Ben’s game. A portfolio is demonstratable. Use your portfolio to prove that you have amazing abilities.

Collect your best examples and put them together on a thumb drive, a folder, online, or somewhere else. Show people your portfolio! When I talked previously about building enthusiasm so people recommend you, this is how to do it! Talk about how awesome and fun building your favorite project was!

Take your favorite thing you’ve ever worked on, what brings
a smile on your face just to think about, and share it.

Employers have interviews to make sure that you can do the job. If you lack the qualifications that they “require” they won’t hire you. You don’t fit the job description. But here’s a secret:

If you can prove to them you can do that job,
they WILL hire you anyway.

 Years later, Ben ended up using his portfolio to get a previous high-level Google executive to co-found a business with him. His portfolio this time wasn’t a game. It was LucidChart. How good was his portfolio? Take a look here.

Ben had a college level programming job in high school.
Then he had a man from Google asking to start a business with him.

 This all happened before he graduated from college. There is an amazing amount that can be done with a portfolio that can’t be done with a resume.

Something To Do Today

 Ask your boss what you could put in your portfolio that absolutely proves you deserve a raise. Put together that portfolio and see if he gives you that raise. If he doesn’t, show that portfolio to other employers. Maybe they will give you the raise (or rather, a job) when your boss wouldn’t.

Prove you deserve it and they will give it to you.

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