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Rethink Your Lengthy Portfolio


Matt Leverich

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The following information pertains to portfolios as documents like a PDF, Word file, or other printable file type or digital file that must be scrolled like a document. This does not include online portfolios on websites.


After years of work looking over and/or building superintendent portfolios and the results produced, one item consistently appears in feedback from hiring personnel on DIY portfolios:

The content is too long!

I've written before about keeping your resume as short as realistically possible, so why would you want to be short with your portfolio? Wouldn't you want to expand and show them all the work you have done? No, not necessarily... in most cases from my real-world experience. I have seen portfolios that span 30 or more pages that do little except hinder your chances instead of helping them. A portfolio should be there to provide more information than the resume can, but not be turned into a complete history of everything you have ever done on a golf course.

A portfolio should be there to provide more information than the resume can, but not be turned into a complete history of everything you have ever done on a golf course.

The biggest mistake I see superintendents make when creating their own portfolio file is using way too many images of construction projects. For those of us in the industry, we like to see the process of a project and moving soil, etc. But for the hiring person, it is usually overkill because all they care to see are before and after shots of the finished course. They may understand there is work required underneath it all, but to them it matters how it looked before and after the work. I have rarely seen quality before and after shots of the exact same area from superintendents. However, I have gone over more images of soil grading than I think almost anyone in the industry! So, shortening up the project pictures is a very easy way to get your portfolio down to a more manageable length.  

Shortening up the project pictures is a very easy way to get your portfolio down to a more manageable length...

A second thing to consider is how big you set all of your images in the file. It may seem like a great idea to make them all their own full page images, but really all this creates is a lengthy document that takes too long to scroll or read for the typical reader. Again, think about your target audience and how much competition there is for the position. Put yourself in their shoes -- imagine if every applicant that applied for a job you posted sent you 30-plus page files for you to review. Would you really look over every single page if there were 50 applicants? Probably not.

The length of the portfolio is also important when you actually get an interview. At this point, the hiring personnel don't want to have a lengthy book about what you have done in the past, they want to know what you will do for their club. Try to build a custom portfolio/action plan combination that can show them what you could do for their course and use some of your previous work as examples of this, all within as few pages as possible.

When I build custom print portfolios for clients that are used in applications and interviews, we rarely use more than 8 pages and they include all important information laid out in a stunning way that garners attention and gets readers the most important aspects of the client's career. Action plans are usually more in the range of 10-20 pages, but rarely more.

The hiring personnel don't want to have a lengthy book about what you have done in the past, they want to know what you will do for their club...

One note to consider though: due to the way content can be displayed or hidden on websites, you can include much more information and images without overwhelming the reader and have it work against you. This way you can have all the details available just in case one small point is important to a certain club, but at the same time will not be overkill for the average reader.

For the reasons stated, I always recommend that you should have a website for the application, and a print portfolio in a magazine-style layout for the interview to go along with your action plan.

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