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Portfolio vs. Resume: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 25, 2024
A portfolio showcases work samples and projects, while a resume summarizes professional experience, education, and skills.

Key Differences

A portfolio is a collection of work samples, showing the quality and range of an individual's work, often used in creative fields. A resume, on the other hand, is a concise document listing professional history, skills, and qualifications.
Portfolios typically include examples of work, such as designs, writings, or case studies, demonstrating practical skills and creativity. Resumes provide a summary of work experience, educational background, and specific achievements in a more standardized format.
The purpose of a portfolio is to visually demonstrate an individual's abilities and accomplishments in their field. In contrast, a resume is designed to quickly convey a candidate's suitability for a role through a brief overview of their professional journey.
Portfolios are often dynamic, updated with new work to reflect the individual's evolving skills. Resumes, while updated regularly, follow a more static structure, focusing on career progression and professional experiences.
For professions like graphic design, architecture, and writing, portfolios are essential. For many other professions, a resume is the primary tool for job applications, sometimes complemented by a portfolio.

Comparison Chart


Showcases work samples and projects.
Summarizes professional experience and skills.


Examples of work, creative projects.
Work history, education, skills, certifications.


Visual, often digital or physical.
Text-based, typically a single document.

Fields of Use

Common in creative and design fields.
Used universally across all professions.


Demonstrates practical skills and creativity.
Conveys suitability and qualifications for roles.

Portfolio and Resume Definitions


A visual representation of an individual's professional achievements.
The architect's portfolio showcased innovative building designs.


Often the first document reviewed by employers during job applications.
She tailored her resume for the software engineering position.


A collection of work samples demonstrating skills and creativity.
Her portfolio includes impressive graphic design projects.


A brief overview of a candidate's qualifications and work history.
His resume clearly outlines his progression in the finance sector.


A tool for visually presenting one's professional capabilities.
Her portfolio effectively displays her versatility as a writer.


A tool for conveying professional suitability in a concise manner.
Her resume effectively summarized her skills as a project manager.


Used primarily in creative fields to exhibit talent.
As a fashion designer, her portfolio is key to landing new clients.


A document summarizing professional experience, education, and skills.
Her resume lists her impressive career in marketing over ten years.


A dynamic compilation of an individual's best work.
He updated his portfolio with recent photography work.


Can include certifications, awards, and relevant professional memberships.
On his resume, he highlighted his certification in data analysis.


A portable case for holding material, such as loose papers, photographs, or drawings.


A brief account of one's professional or work experience and qualifications, often submitted with an employment application.


A collection of works or documents that are representative of a person's skills and accomplishments
A photographer's portfolio.
An artist's portfolio of drawings.


What should be included in a resume?

A resume should include your work experience, educational background, skills, and relevant achievements.

What is a resume?

A resume is a document summarizing a person's professional experience, education, and skills.

Can a portfolio replace a resume?

In most professions, a portfolio complements but does not replace a resume.

What is a portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of work samples showcasing an individual's skills and projects.

When should I use a portfolio?

A portfolio is used when you need to visually demonstrate your work, often in creative fields.

How long should a resume be?

A resume should typically be one to two pages long, depending on your experience.

Is a resume necessary for all job applications?

Yes, a resume is typically required for most job applications.

Can I use the same portfolio for different job applications?

It's best to tailor your portfolio to the specific job or industry.

How often should I update my portfolio?

Update your portfolio regularly with new and relevant work samples.

What types of work are showcased in a portfolio?

A portfolio can showcase various works like design projects, writing samples, or case studies.

Is it important to customize a resume for each job?

Yes, tailoring your resume for each job application is important.

How detailed should work history be on a resume?

Include details relevant to the position you are applying for, focusing on achievements and roles.

How can a portfolio help in a job interview?

A portfolio can provide tangible evidence of your skills and help guide the interview conversation.

What format should a resume be in?

A resume should be in a clear, professional format, usually in a PDF or Word document.

Is it necessary for everyone to have a portfolio?

Portfolios are more necessary in creative fields but can be beneficial in showcasing work in other areas.

How can I make my resume stand out?

Customize it to the job, highlight key achievements, use a clear format, and proofread thoroughly.

Should a portfolio be physical or digital?

It can be either, depending on your industry and the preferences of the audience.

Should references be included in a resume?

Generally, references are not included in a resume unless specifically requested.

Can I include volunteer experience on my resume?

Yes, volunteer experience can be included, especially if it's relevant to the job.

What is the main difference between a portfolio and a resume?

A portfolio visually presents work samples, while a resume provides a textual summary of your professional background.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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