A recent article on job prospecting by Emily Driscoll cited a report on the most successful places for generating candidate interviews and hires. The report by SilkRoad stated that the top place where companies find candidates online and actually hire them is their own personal website, aka an online web portfolio.
An online web portfolio is a website that serves as a literal pressroom for highlighting your skills, abilities and accomplishments in an interactive, digital form. Your online web portfolio is a platform for you as an individual to get the most out your past work and experiences. By providing evidence of what you have done, employers can see your true value beyond a resume. I have been teaching people how to create web portfolios to help secure jobs for close to fifteen years. People of all backgrounds and disciplines can create an online web portfolio with some planning, a little time, and some creativity.
- make your online portfolio industry specific
- keep your online portfolio updated
- explain the work in the portfolio by using captions or cases
- ensure portfolio designs clean and clear
- cross promote your site on your social media sites
- pay for a web hosting company until you have tried free products first
- mix business with pleasure in the online portfolio
- use other peoples work or restricted images in your portfolio
- worry if you only have a few pieces of content at first
- forget to have others click through and check your site for style and errors
The best thing about an online portfolio is that you can cater it specifically to an industry. Using an online portfolio gives you a platform to reinvent yourself by telling your story online in the form of text, images, photos, and videos. For example, in communications, writing and using social media are key skills that should be represented in the portfolio.
You want to make it a habit to update your online portfolio at least every 4-6 months or when you have new accomplishments or projects. It’s hard to keep up, but it is important to chronicle what you do soon after you do it. Otherwise, we tend to forget.
Make sure that you have a caption or case study for each project, image, and photo you have posted. You need to have something that explains the work briefly. Writing these is good for you. It will help you when you need to talk about your work on an interview. For a case study, provide vital information in one-two sentences. Use headings like:
If you can use a template, do it, unless you feel that you have true design skills. Designing a website for proper appeal and usability is difficult for the untrained. You could do more harm than good by using type and images that don’t project a good aesthetic. Templates are a great way to have a starting point that can be modified in color, content, and length. Plus, with templates you don’t have to worry about designing a poor functioning or bad looking online web portfolio.
Place your online portfolio URL everywhere. Use it in your email signature, on your business card, and on your LinkedIn profile. The more exposure your portfolio has, the more potential there is for it to be seen by industry professionals looking to hire you.
With the abundance of Do it Yourself (DIY) websites, anyone with simple abilities can create a stunning personal website or online web portfolio complete with social media connection, a blog, photo and video galleries, and a bunch of other content widgets. Look for a site that provides free server space, a free subdomain name, a free online website maker with tools and templates, and free educational resources; anything less and you should look for a different one.
Keep your professional online web portfolio dedicated to your career, not your social life. Don’t link to a personal FaceBook or Twitter page. Instead, link to your professional LinkedIn page so that potential employers can easily contact you without the burden of personal pictures that may be off-putting.
If you didn’t play a role in a project, don’t include it in the online portfolio. You can and should include it if you had a small role or better. Make sure to include a case study that explains what you did in the process, and be careful of work that needs permissions. You may need to get an approval for work that you do at your job or a previous job that you have in an online web portfolio.
The online portfolio is a dynamic project that grows as your career grows. Try to have at least two to three projects or samples in the initial portfolio. Add your resume, a bio or profile, list of accomplishments or highlights, and even a video if you have the motivation to get on camera and describe your value.
Ask friends, mentors, and colleagues to preview your online portfolio before you unleash it on prospects. Ask folks to consider the look and feel of the site, and request that they write down what they like and don’t like in addition to any errors that they may discover. You’ll be happy you did. It’s better they find the errors rather than the hiring manager.
An online portfolio is a fantastic way to highlight your skills and accomplishments to potential employers. Ingest these chunks of advice, and you’ll see your online portfolio become a potent weapon in promoting yourself during a job hunt.