Who: While portfolios have traditionally been used by creative professionals — artists, photographers, marketers, advertisers and designers — the rise of web communication and social media has brought online portfolios into the mainstream. For those looking for their first break or simply aiming to stand out from the crowd, upping the ante on your job search toolbox may make the difference.
What: A portfolio is like an elaborate resume that allows you to show your accomplishments rather than just tell about them. This is your opportunity to present your most impressive work as well as additional information, such as reading lists, articles of interest, activities, awards, evaluations and letters of reference. For creative professionals, include what you would in a traditional portfolio, be it writing samples, photography or graphic design. For all other professionals, think of an online portfolio as an extension of your current resume to include links, social media accounts, blogs or recommendations from past employers, professors or peers.
When: Many educational institutions are now incorporating online portfolios into their curriculum to help students prepare for their job search. Some programs may also require an online portfolio for admission. With a competitive job market, those who make every effort to showcase their talents and eagerness will be more successful in securing employment. For creatives, an online portfolio allows you to direct prospective clients to your work without having to deliver a printed folder. With much work now appearing online, you are able to include links to various websites in which you have contributed.
Where: There are websites specifically created to host online portfolios, or create your own through a simple blogging site such as WordPress or Blogger. If you are a graphic or web designer, this is your chance to show off your creativity in the design of the site as well as its content.
Why: Communications have changed the world and with it, the business community. While still not a requirement for most jobs, an online portfolio may just give you the slight edge you need to be more competitive. At the very least, professionals need a compelling and complete LinkedIn profile as many hiring managers are either searching for or cross checking applications on the site. In addition to sharing your work experience and education, certain applications allow you to include an online portfolio within your profile or link to an external website.
How: While it may seem like a daunting task, the following 5 steps will help you get started:
1. Identify your objectives. This may seem obvious, but having a clear understanding of what you wish to accomplish, including the message you are trying to convey to your potential employer or client will help you identify what will be included.
2. Be clear. Ensure your ‘about’ page concisely explains your profile and objectives, offering solutions to the reader’s needs. Simplicity is best, so try to make sure your design allows the reader to easily navigate the site while making it easy for them to contact you.
3. ‘Hire me’. If your goal is to get a job or contract, say it! Create a ‘hire me’ page where you pull out all the stops in making yourself marketable to prospective employers.
4. Know your audience. Think about your client or hiring manager and what they would want to see. Be specific as to the skill or service you wish to highlight and target your message to the reader. Tell stories about your work and how they yielded results and return on investment.
5. Build traffic. Link your online portfolio to your social media accounts, blogs, email signature and share with your network. Consider posting messages on hiring managers’ Twitter or LinkedIn pages, including the link to your website. Using SEO throughout your site may also drive traffic through online searches, expanding your reach within your professional community.
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