11/01/2003

The Career Portfolio Workbook by Frank Satterthwaite and Gary D'Orsi

Book Review by Katarzyna Ganko and Cynthia Kivland

Book Review

The Career Portfolio Workbook: Using the Newest Tool in Your Job-Hunting Arsenal to Impress Employers and Land a Great Job. Frank Satterthwaite and Gary D'Orsi. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. 252 p.

Drawing upon the assumption a career portfolio is "a way of substantiating the information from [one's] resume and cover letter once having gotten the job interview" (p. 6); Frank Satterthwaite and Gary D'Orsi see it as a powerful "self-marketing tool that enhances [career-minded people's] ability to present themselves both clearly and credibly" (p.5). In fact, according to the authors, the greatest advantage of this compilation of genuine documents is the ability to depict the intangible as tangible. A career portfolio is a vehicle to present our actual achievements, providing the means to define our vital contribution to the targeted workplace. The Career Portfolio Workbook teaches job seekers how they can prove to the potential employer that they will make a difference through showing they have what the employer seeks.

This very-well structured and user-friendly handbook is an easy-to-follow guide on how to create a career portfolio that is bound to secure one a desired job. The authors, both career coaches, provide a question-answer approach that gives the reader a sense of interaction and feeling of being aided in the stressful process of job-hunting. In addition, the how-to sections provide a clear, predictable layout with definable action steps.

A well-written introduction offers a satisfying definition of what a career portfolio is and is not, when to use it, who should use it and why to use it in the first place. Alongside briefly discussing its functionality, benefits and format as well as making clear which chapters focus on particular issues in-depth; chapter 1 introduces the acronym that will serve as a fundament to portfolio creation with regard to its broad usage. The P.E.A.K.S. categories, standing for "Personal Characteristics That Add Value, Experience, Accomplishments, Knowledge and Skills," are pioneering in a sense they finally allow job-seekers to present themselves fully as unique individuals bringing to the workplace not only knowledge, skills and achievement but, what turns out to be most sought by the employers, particular personality traits. In addition, the portfolio featuring P.E.A.K.S. format finally enables us to make the intangible tangible, in other words, to show we do possess the qualities sought.

Another advantage of the book is that the chapters, while featuring different aspects of portfolio design serving as steps to creating and then perfecting it, may be treated as separate units for those users who are acquainted with the idea of career portfolio and are only looking for some tips concerning e. g. "Creating Resumes That Work with [Their] Portfolio" (chapter 5). Forming Part 1, entitled "Building, Using, and Maintaining Your Career Portfolio," the chapters begin with a concise overview clarifying what will be discussed and finish with final thoughts, including suggestions and bridges to the next section. They are all rich in practical, easy-to-implement ideas displaying the authors' competence in guidance as well as their outstanding knowledge of the job market and employment dynamics. Indeed, they seem to address all possible usages of portfolio, even those cases, in which we do not seek a new employer but strive for higher career fulfillment by aligning our talents with performance tasks. The last, emergency-like chapter may come especially handy as it shows how to create a portfolio in a few hours. It also precedes part 2 containing genuine "Examples of Targeted Portfolios" of five individuals with different backgrounds, which is an invaluable addition. Finally yet so helpful, The Career Portfolio Workbook provides an appendix of useful worksheets which, though not "a must," may turn out indispensable for some.

To conclude, Satterthwaite and D'Orsi keep their "cover promise" as they show how to "create a career portfolio of [our] skills, [how to] target it to [our] needs" and skillfully choose its content. Using an uncomplicated language, the authors provide us with a complete guide to create a well-prepared, thoughtful career portfolio that will distinguish you or your clients in the job-hunting process. Simply put, the book proves that individuals with a career portfolio are better able to highlight their tangible record of achievement to secure an existing job and often, create a new job aligned with their achievements. Finally, Satterthwaite's and D'Orsi's succeed in convincing that the portfolio's place is no longer only in the artists' hands.


Review provided by Katarzyna Ganko and Cynthia Kivland,
CareerPerformanceStrategies. Katarzyna is a summer intern from Poland working with Cynthia. Her goal is to provide proactive career development services in Poland, with a focus on women and emotional intelligence.
Katarzyna Ganko, B.A., M.A., has received both of her degrees from University of Warsaw, of the former in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and the latter in American Studies. She is currently completing her Master's degree in Cross-cultural Psychology at Warsaw School of Advanced Social Psychology.

Email: ckivland@careerperformancestrategies.com


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