In honor of the beta release of my portfolio site–embowman.net–and crossing off lucky #17 from my 101 in 1001 list, I’ve decided to share a post I wrote for the SI Career blog last year about building an e-portfolio. Even if you’re not in a tech field, I highly recommend having one. At the very lest, it makes you look like a BOSS cuz you can make a website. Woohoo! Have other tips for job seekers? Share ‘em in the comments!
Although artists, designers, and architects are the traditional users of portfolios, just about any professional can (and should) have a portfolio. In our current age, this means developing an electronic portfolio; a website or page that showcases the skills and abilities you have gleaned from your past work. These sites are appropriate for all professionals, but are almost required for job seekers in technology fields.
Building Your ePortfolio
While there are plenty of options for the less tech-savvy–Carbonmade, Krop, Portfolios.com, and Coroflot are a few–those with some technical ability would be well-served to show off your prowess by building your own. Especially if web development is a marketable skill for your field, go the old-school route and built it from the bottom up. Using a content management system such as WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla! might be a great option, too.
What to Include in Your ePortfolio
Before working on the content or the design of your ePortfolio, spend some time researching your ideal job descriptions at your ideal employers. What kind of skills are they seeking in a new hire? What responsibilities are emphasized? Having an idea of what is most important to your ideal employer will help you in crafting the most appropriate site.
When planning for what to include in your ePortfolio, you must decide how you want to organize it. Will you organize your content by projects? Skill sets? Will you organize things chronologically? Put a little effort into the content mapping on the front end; it will make building your site much easier. Keep in mind, how you organize your site may be influenced greatly by your industry or desired career path.
Some of the most common and appropriate content for professional portfolios fall inot the following categories: an introduction, contact, or “about me”, professional/educational projects or accomplishments, skills, work experience, extracurricular projects or accomplishments, relevant hobbies or personal interests, and a complete resume. Here are some of the things you may want to include in those sections:
Professional/Educational Projects or Accomplishments
- Courses completed
- Letters of recommendation from faculty members or peers
- Course papers, projects, and presentations
- Conference presentations
- Software you are proficient with
- Professional methods you know and can apply
- Languages you speak or understand
- Samples of your work, positive evaluations, or accomplishments
- Recommendations from supervisors or project group members
Extracurricular Projects or Accomplishments
- Flyers, programs, awards, letters of appreciation, certificates
Relevant Hobbies or Personal Interests
- Awards, certificates, photos
- Blog and/or work website
Be sure to include an introductory personal statement to demonstrate who you are, your values and philosophy, and a summary of the contents of your site on your home page. For each section or page, write a brief summary of the contents and their relevancy to your role as a professional. Visual elements are also strongly encouraged. As you amass experience, take the time to gather photos, screenshots, and PDF’s of your work (in process as well as finished products) to add to your site.
Once you have a site built, take extra care in checking your work. You may want to enlist help from classmates, friends, or colleagues. Just as with a resume, any misspellings or grammar errors may immediately disqualify you as a candidate. So, spend the time to make sure your ePortfolio is just right. Other things to review: functioning links, consistent labeling, and smart and usable site navigation.
Sharing Your ePortfolio
Once it’s finished, your ePortfolio URL should be on your resume, included in your cover letter, on your business cards, and in your email signature. You may even consider an increasingly popular way to share online links in the material world: a QR code. QR codes allow for users to connect with your site directly by snapping a picture of it with their mobile phones. They can be printed on the back of your business card, added to your resume, or printed on a wide variety of promotional materials. Of course, if you choose to include a QR code, make sure you also include the full URL as well. And be sure your site renders well in a mobile browser!
Ten Tips for a Great ePortfolio
1. Limit your samples; do not include everything you have ever created – only what’s most relevant. If you do have many examples, place your best designs toward the front/top of the ePortfolio.
2. To make it easy for people to find you, be sure to include full contact information somewhere on your site in a searchable text format.
3. When developing your ePortfolio, be aware of download times – try everything out on several browsers.
4. Include a logo and a tagline – every major company has both, so why shouldn’t you?
5. Have an ePortfolio-only website – don’t mix your freelance site with your job-searching site.
6. Be sure that your code is simple, clean, semantically tagged, and accessible.
7. For tech-oriented students, use more than HTML/CSS to develop your site.
8. Include your ePortfolio as part of your LinkedIn Profile – or create one using the Creative Portfolio Display tool.
9. If you have the know how to increase the search engine optimization of your site, do so!
10. Demonstrate your web presence: Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, Blogs, and other social networking tools/sites.
Other Online Resources and Tips
Looking for more tips and tricks for building an effective ePortfolio? Check out the following resources:
Build A Killer Online Portfolio
5 Tips for a Better Online Portfolio
Creating The Perfect Portfolio
10 Steps to the Perfect Portfolio Website