Thought Leader Series: To Impress Recruiters Create a Hardbound Portfolio of Your Career Experience

Hardbound portfolio
Mark Babbitt is the CEO and Founder of YouTern, a Forbes “Top Site for Your Career,” and is co-author of A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive.

Although it’s improving, the job market remains ultra-competitive – and many job seekers are looking for any edge that will help them stand out.

Infographic resumes, video introductions, mini-business plans – even making your resume look like an Amazon product page – have all been tried. Some successfully… some not so much.

Here’s one idea you may not have thought of yet: A hardbound book that outlines your career experience, page by page. Here’s how to use this unique personal branding strategy successfully.

Hardbound portfolio

Create a Compelling Title

Step one is to create a title that will grab the attention of the hiring manager – somewhere between a boring cliché (“Mary Stevens: Recent Graduate from Sycamore State”) and overzealous (“Mary Stevens: The Best Hire You Will EVER Make!’).

Something that shows humble confidence works best. For instance: “Mary Stevens: Ready to Help Your Business Succeed.” If you are so inclined, and the company culture most attractive to you leans toward edgy and bold, try “Mary Stevens: Ready to Help Your Company with World Domination.”

Tell Your Story

Every good book has a solid beginning that hooks the reader, a middle that moves the plot along and intrigues the reader, and a fulfilling ending that nicely ties everything together including – preferably, for you and the company – a happy ending! (More on that in a minute.)

Guide the hiring manager through your story by answering these three questions:

  • What am I really, really good at? And why does your company need that?
  • What do I stand for … and how is that aligned with the culture and mission of the company?
  • How will I add value; specifically, how will my skills help achieve the organization’s goals?

IMPORTANT: As you tell your tale, be sure to make the story about the reader, not you. Take a “here’s what’s in this for you” approach rather than “here’s what I’m looking for” perspective.

Use Numbers and Dollar Signs

Your future employer doesn’t so much care about what you did at work. They want to know what impact your work had on the organization. So as you weave your story, talk about your direct impact to previous employers by using numbers, the dollar sign and the percentage sign. For example:

  • Exceeded quota by 132% over two years
  • Promoted three times in 18 months at ABC Company
  • My fundraising efforts lead to an additional $27,000 in donations, which enabled the organization to feed 125 more children in 2014

Remember, this is a non-fiction book … your book can’t be a fairy tale! So use accurate figures to demonstrate your impact and contributions.

Everyone Loves a Picture Book

Throughout your book, sprinkle in images that support your most important points. Graphs, examples of your work, and logos of the companies you worked for, or with, all lend instant credibility to your story. Other examples may include:

  • If you are in the creative fields, this chapter of your book is incredibly important; this is where you show off your best work!
  • If you are an engineer or business major and worked on a relevant class project, show pictures of your team working together as well as the end result of your work.
  • If you demonstrated leadership during college or are doing volunteer work now, use images to reinforce the passion you brought to those roles.

Write That Happy Ending

Finally, in the last chapter of your career book, show the reader what success looks like – with you in that role!

  • How will you be a champion of the brand?
  • What will you accomplish in your first 30 days? 90 days? Your first year?
  • How do members of your team work together two years from now?
  • How will you have helped move the company mission forward?

Use your words and images to draw them a picture … so they see you as the person they need to hire!

The moral of the story

Be creative. Have fun. Show your unique value, and personality. A hardbound portfolio just may help you turn the next page in your career.

Start creating your book now!

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