Building an ePortfolio is an excellent way for you to give prospective employers in any field a glimpse of your work.
But, that’s especially true if the work you do is either partly or mostly performed – in some shape or form – online. An ePortfolio can be very helpful if you seek to get hired in information technology, graphic design, business administration or teaching jobs.
What Is an ePortfolio?
An ePortfolio is a portfolio that is web-based. It can be as simplistic as having a website, blog or online resume. Your ePortfolio should consist of the collected works and achievements that best showcase the pertinent skills and knowledge which you’ve attained at this point in your career.
Beyond that, Paul Treuer, owner of PT Consulting, also views an ePortfolio as a tool for managing your learning over a lifetime in ways that make that learning deep and continuous. So, building your ePortfolio is not a one-time task. It’s a tool for tracking your personal developmental and reflecting how you currently view your personal and intellectual growth.
Also look at your ePortfolio, since it’s web-based, as your opportunity to broadcast all of your accomplishments and selling points to the world.
Your ePortfolio says much more about the caliber of your work than a simple list of projects and jobs on your resume. It’s an organized selection of the best examples of your work. If you’re a web designer, you may have screenshots of your best work, a diskette of samples or simply an address for your ePortfolio. As a journalist, you may have a link to your blog, a booklet of writing samples or an audio or video recording of your on-air material.
Why Is an ePortfolio an Essential Job Marketing Tool?
You need to develop your ePortfolio if you're looking to find the right job, stand out among the competition, feel confident during job interviews, gain a competitive edge and track your career development. It can even help you develop an effective profile on LinkedIn. Let’s look at each of these ePortfolio benefits.
· Focusing your Job Search. – Just the exercise of pulling together all your accomplishments into one place gives you an opportunity to identify your most important accomplishments, your most reliable strengths, and your most enjoyable work. That will guide you in choosing which jobs and employers to pursue.
· Standing Out from your Competitors - Your ePortfolio is a customized picture of you at this point in your development. It’s your track record. It sets you apart from everyone else.
· Interviewing with Confidence. - Your ePortfolio also lets you walk into an interview with more confidence because, while putting it together, you've examined your goals, described your beliefs about work and your career, documented your strengths and identified your weaknesses. You’re ready to handle those hard interview questions like "Tell me about yourself," "What are your goals for the future?" or "What do you bring to the table for us?"
· Starting Out Ahead. – Your ePortfolio can do more than boost your confidence in an interview. It can also help you get ahead in the job market. A well-crafted ePortfolio shows employers that you have the skills and abilities they seek.
· Tracking your Career. - Once you have a job, your ePortfolio doesn’t lay dormant until you're looking for another job. Your ePortfolio changes as you begin to collect and document your work on the job. It serves as proof of your abilities on the job. You can use it to track your job performance, and that helps position you for advancement.
· Developing your LinkedIn Profile. Once you complete your ePortfolio and get into the habit of updating it on a routine basis, you’ll find developing and refining your LinkedIn profile to reflect your immediate job marketing needs a much easier task. Your ePortfolio essentially becomes a generator for your next job marketing initiative.
How Do You Develop your ePortfolio?
First, here are some tips for making sure your ePortfolio is keeping up with changing times and landscapes:
Think hard about the organization, appearance and general layout of your ePortfolio. Create separate sections for topics such as education, experience, references and contact information.
Be sure all relevant documents are uploaded to their corresponding sections of the ePortfolio. You want to make the process as easy and interesting as possible for the person viewing them.
Avoid bright colors and stick to the more traditional business formatting and fonts.
Use meaningful pictures to bring some life to your ePortfolio. While the majority of people will have content-based ePortfolios (excluding professions such as photographers, artists etc.), it’s important to remember that a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure they are well-cropped, in good taste and are connected to the most important points you’re trying to get across.
Write good content and keep it up-to-date. Spell check and grammar check and have a friend do the same.
Having a strong academic ePortfolio as a student will also help ease your transition into creating a career ePortfolio. The two are extremely similar when it comes to organizing the relevant information, accomplishments, skills and qualifications employers seek. A career ePortfolio may also include these sections:
Summary of career values and goals.
Professional mission statement.
Resumes targeted to specific job sectors and industries.
Lists of skills and marketable qualities.
Work experience and accomplishments.
Letters of recommendation, awards, certifications, references and testimonials.
What Online Platforms are Available for Uploading Your ePortfolio to the Web?
· If you’re a student who needs to transfer your ePortfolio from a campus website to a more permanent host, check FolioSpaces.org, where you can import your ePortfolio free of charge at any time.
· If you’re ready to build your ePortfolio from scratch, I’d recommend Google Sites. It’s free, user-friendly and offers templates to help you get started without worrying about structure and design as you upload your content.
· Portfolio Lounge takes care of all the hosting coding and optimization for search engines and makes sure your ePortfolio is safe and reliable. You can upload your own custom logo and have your custom domain. The free version of its services is available to you for as long as you'd like. You can upgrade to a monthly subscription if you find that you need more space or access to expanded features.
Of course, there are many more alternatives. Google “ePortfolio hosting.”
How Do You Use Your ePortfolio Effectively?
Here are five ways to use your ePortfolio during a job search.
Connect your ePortfolio with your social media pages so people can find you more easily. Make sure everything on your profiles is “work-appropriate.”
Place a link to your ePortfolio on your resumes and covers letters.
Include a link to your ePortfolio in your e-mail signature.
Refer to appropriate sections in your ePortfolio during job interviews, perhaps using your iPad, tablet or smart phone to “show and tell.”
Reference appropriate sections in thank-you notes and follow-up correspondence with your prospective employer/hiring manager as reminders or evidence not covered before about why you are the best candidate for the job.
You may not hear much about ePortfolios nowadays – maybe because they have become so commonplace that they are taken for granted. That’s all the more reason why I believe you need to have an ePortfolio.
Copyright © 2016. Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse (www.jimhasse.com), Global Career Development Facilitator, has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both jobseekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com/), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. He’s the founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, a comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of youngsters with cerebral palsy, and owner of Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC, which develops win-win direct mail fundraisers for champions of disability employment.