If you’ve hung out in the Auburn Career Center or the Miller Writing Center much, you may have heard about students’ ePortfolios or digital portfolios, but to most job applicants, it may just sound like unimportant, futuristic career readiness jargon.
On the contrary, back in 2013, Forbes.com explained that 56 percent of hiring managers are more impressed with applicants’ personal websites and digital portfolios than any other element of their job applications. However, only 7 percent of candidates actually had one.
Given the ever-increasing pervasiveness of technology in the job search, it’s a fair guess that these numbers have climbed since the Forbes article was published. With only about 20 percent of applicants being granted an interview for any given job, this new marketing tool is well worth including in your job search arsenal.
So, what exactly is a digital portfolio? Put simply, they’re websites where job seekers, students and professionals can display their work, demonstrate their skills and convey their personalities in professional, flexible way. By creating a digital portfolio, you can easily direct employers to a comprehensive location containing your resume, work samples, biographical information, and other representations of what make you unique.
Because of the flexibility and opportunity for creative expression in digital portfolios, no portfolio is alike, although many professionals opt to include an HTML or PDF resume or both, along with photos and other design elements to give employers a hint of their personality and values. They also link their personal sites to your LinkedIn, Facebook and other social media accounts and include the link to their ePortfolio in their job applications, creating a web of information easily accessible by employers.
Because digital portfolios are still gaining ground in the job search world, applicants with any digital portfolio at all are likely to stand apart from their competitors. But candidates with an especially thoughtful, personally crafted ePortfolio put themselves heads and shoulders above their competition.
If you’re convinced it’s worth your time to create an ePortfolio, but you’re lacking in the technical knowledge or design chops to make it happen, don’t worry! Websites like Wix, Weebly, WordPress and SquareSpace, just to name a few, make it easy for anyone to display their work for free using pre-designed, customizable templates.
For starters, the basic components of a digital portfolio usually include some basic sections:
- About me. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you’ve created your website. You have freedom in this section to express yourself in whatever way you’d like: with photos, lists, inspirational quotes or a personal anecdote—any way that employers will get a sense of who you are both personally and professionally.
- Skills and experience. Usually the reason you’ve created your ePortfolio is to have a location to store your work from classes, internships, freelance projects or full-time jobs, so it’s a good idea to first introduce what kinds of skills and experience inform your work. You can include this in a visual format with graphs, tiles or other design elements, or you can simply include a modified version of your resume on your site.
- Work samples. Employers enjoy looking at digital portfolios because they bring candidates’ work into their reach. Your resume and cover letter may mention your ability to draft in-depth financial plans, but displaying examples of plans you’ve actually crafted on your website takes it a step further and proves you’re as talented as you claim. However, it’s important to note that any work you include should be as blemish-free as possible; any information you provide in a job application is grounds for rejection, so make sure your work samples (and portfolio in general) are polished and pristine!
- Contact information. If an employer stumbles onto your site through a Google search or LinkedIn, it would be helpful for them to contact you directly if they’re interested! You can include a form so they can submit messages to you directly from your site, or simply list your email address and phone number. Also include a link to your social media accounts (as long as they’re professional) to show more about your personality.
ePortfolios are fun, creative ways to show employers what a successful employee you could be to them. For more information about getting started with an ePortfolio and for samples of other students’ and professionals’ own digital portfolios, visit the Auburn Career Center’s drop-in hours or the Miller Writing Center’s ePortfolio Project.
Written by Sarah Russell
Graduate Assistant working on a MEd in Higher Education Administration