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The application portfolio – important information about the structure, content and the sequence

First impressions count – especially when it comes to an application portfolio. Because that’s your ticket to the job. Therefore, your application portfolio should be carefully selected, have a flawless appearance and be complete.

Need help with your application portfolio? Then you’ve come to the right place! We’ll show you what to look out for.

What is an application portfolio

Let’s face it, we actually hardly need an application portfolio anymore. With digitalization, more and more companies want you to apply online anyway. But despite this, still around 30 percent of companies, applicants to apply with an Application portfolio apply for a job.

So it’s worth having an overview of how an application portfolio is structured, what it is in the first place, and what you should look for in your application portfolio. In addition, the application folder is structured in the same way as your online application . The order of the documents is the same.

What is an application portfolio anyway?

The application folder contains all the documents you need for your application, that you need for your application. All documents that belong in an application folder are:

The cover letter
The resume
Your testimonials
And any other documents relevant to the application such as internships, certificates, etc.

The complete application file is then mailed or dropped off in person at the company.

Structure of the application portfolio

There is a standardized order for the structure of your application portfolio that you should follow:

  1. Cover letter (no more than one A4 page)
  2. Cover sheet (is optional)
  3. Curriculum vitae (1 to 3 A4 pages, depending on experience)
  4. The Third Page/Motivation Letter (optional)
  5. Attachments

Depending on your work experience, the size of your application portfolio may vary.

The cover letter

The cover letter or letter of application is like an entrance ticket, because the cover letter is not inserted in the application folder. of your application folder, but is placed on top of the folder. It is the introduction to your application and should encourage the recruiter to read on. This cover letter is therefore important .

Your cover letter should state why you have chosen this position, why you want to work in this company and what your knowledge and skills are. So it’s about your motivation for the job, the employer as well as your personality.

The cover sheet

The cover sheet is not a “must” and can be optionally stapled to it. However, it can beautify your application folder visually, for example, to add your application photo, that you then but of course omit the resume.

The resume

The resume is the heart of your application. This should always be anti-chronological be structured and describe your career without gaps. This document shows what Qualifications and experience you have. Here you can also insert an application photo, which can give your application a very personal expression – but is not a “must”.

The third page or the letter of motivation (optional)

In many application folders you can find the Letter of motivation which is also called the third page. The letter of motivation is an optional addition. The goal is to convince the recruiter with your motivation and suitability for the job.


The attachments – at least your references – are also obligatory in the application portfolio. In addition, attachments include: educational certificates, employment references, references and letters of recommendation, proof of continuing education, work samples, and internships.

Types of application folders

There are many different types and forms of application folders on the market. Ultimately, you can decide for yourself which application portfolio is perfect for you.

Cardboard application folder with clip rail

The application folder is a classic version of the clip folder and has a compact folder design, it is also inexpensive and the documents can be easily removed. The disadvantage is that the folder sometimes looks very cheap and the documents often have to be taken out.

Two-piece application folder with viewing window

With this variant, the recruiter gets a quick first impression of your application thanks to the viewing window. In addition, the viewing window has a high recognition value and the folder remains compact. What is not so good about this variant, however, is that the folder is considered unwieldy by many recruiters.

Plastic or cardboard clip folder

The advantage of this application folder is that it is very cheap and it brings easy handling. In addition, this folder is very popular, Because the documents can be easily removed and the transparent cover sheet allows a quick look at your resume.

Unfortunately, the mass applications often make the folder look cheap, and the too-wide brackets on the left prevent you from reading the letters on the left.

Three piece cardboard job application folder

This application folder convinces with a good overview and your resume and certificates can be read and compared side by side. In addition, the cover letter can also be attached in the folder and the cardboard material looks high quality.

Sequence in the application folder

There is one standardized order, that you should absolutely follow:

  1. Cover letter (no more than one A4 page)
  2. Cover sheet (is optional)
  3. Curriculum vitae (1 to 3 A4 pages, depending on experience)
  4. The Third Page/Motivation Letter (optional)
  5. Attachments

What else do I need to consider?

The worst thing you can do is turn in a sloppy application portfolio. It should be structured and well thought out and not dog-eared or anything like that. Because the application portfolio reflects your personality, so to speak. Therefore, pay close attention to details and avoid the following mistakes:

There should be no stains, dog-ears, or smudged ink on the folder.
It’s best to choose a clear and legible font like Georgia or Helvetica.
Grossest errors: spelling and grammatical errors. Have someone read over your application beforehand.
All your information must be up to date, hence the date. Your photo should also be as recent as possible.
The name and address of the recipient please write correctly, better double check.
You should always send copies of all your certificates and confirmations, never the originals.
At the end: Always check the whole folder again to make sure that all documents are really complete.

Frequently asked questions


Edited at: December 7, 2022

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