You need an online portfolio. Yes - you! And it doesn't matter if you are a media graduate or not with oodles of designs to show. If you have a pulse and you are active in the workplace then an online profile - and a good one at that - is an absolute must.
The world of work has changed with breakneck speed since the social media revolution. Recruitment is fast-paced - jobs are uploaded and downloaded in a blink of an eye - employers demand more sophisticated technical skills than ever before and the world seems to never switch off in this digital age.
To show that you are keeping up with the social media and online profile revolution, you can create your own digital profile. Trust me on this one, it will really help you - whether or not you are a "designer" type with lots of visuals to show or not.
I work in a University Careers service. My job is primarily to advise and be on hand to undergraduates who want to create online portfolios. You would be amazed at the impact that online portfolios have upon the student’s employment.
Students have managed to bag jobs that they otherwise wouldn't have, simply by having a well presented online portfolio. One managed to secure £5,000 grant money with the online portfolio as supporting evidence, another landed a dream job on an exotic island and one got a much wanted part-time number with a family (just because they could see a picture of her playing a ukulele - and liked that!). You see, some things you can' get across on paper.
Why do employers like online portfolios so much?
Well, for these reasons:
- an online portfolio demonstrates your IT competency, in a snap
- a good visual introduction to you and your skills can not be beaten
- employers like information about who you are, as well as what you know
- a portfolio shows that you are media savvy, and aware of the importance of "online"
Paper V digital
It's no longer enough to have a two page paper CV to impress an employer. Not when all the whizz kids are sending out electronic portfolios to support their paper CVs. You need a digital portfolio to compete in the competitive and ever-changing labour market in which evidence of IT skills and online savviness is tantamount to securing a decent job with prospects.
A digital portfolio may not quickly replace a CV completely, but it will definitely be used more and more as a way to enhance traditional employment. Stuffy law firms won't be accepting them anytime soon, but digital media companies will be wondering where your online portfolio is. The employers in between these two extremes are already sitting up and taking notice of the new e-CV.
Imagine you are an employer and you receive 80 CVs from candidates with equal qualifications and experience. One, however, has directed you to a link to a full multi-media online portfolio. This candidate will surely seem a better bet than the others - they have peeked your interest for a start and I bet you want to meet them.
Portfolios are not just for graphic and multi-media students – they are for everyone. Take a look at some examples of undergraduate webfolios.
Where to get a portfolio
You can create a portfolio in WordPress. Sign up for a free blog at www.wordpress.com and create a portfolio. You can make one easily using the "pages" section.
1. Go to www.wordpress.com
2. Click on "Get Started" to register for a blog
3. Name your blog.... "YourName.wordpress.com", for example
4. Choose a simple and professional theme from the options
5. Go to the "edit" dashboard
6. Select the "add pages" option
Create three pages to start with:
- an introduction page
- an educational history page
- a work experience page
If you already have a CV, you can add the text from your CV to the relevant areas of your pages.
Jazz it up
The beauty of the online portfolio is that you can make it much more interactive than a paper CV. This means that hyperlinks, images and even video clips are all welcome
You can add a hyperlink to really add dimension to your portfolio. Add the page for your university degree module, for example, and the viewer can view the modules that you are studying. You can link to essays or published work as well so that an employer can get a good idea of the quality of your work.
Voluntary opportunities don't often get the attention they deserve on a standard CV. People often get involved in really interesting and varied activities in a voluntary capacity and all sorts of skills are gained that could be transferable to any job. Hyper link to any voluntary project that you have been involved in and include images of you volunteering, if possible.
You can insert video clips - handy, not just for media students! If you have a short presentation that you would like to share for example you can add it as a video clip. You could think about adding a PowerPoint of your main skills for a good visual effect.
Employers like information when they are making a choice as to whether employ someone or not. The more information you can give them, the more comfortable they will feel about their decision. Add a professional image of yourself and dedicate a short summary to your interests outside of work.
How to share your portfolio
You can share your online portfolio easily. Add a link to it on your paper CV under the personal details section.
Add the link to your LinkedIn profile to add more interesting information to what can sometimes be a bland affair.
It's a good idea to add the link to your portfolio in the email that you send your application or CV with. You can use this, for example:
Dear Mr Smith,
Re: Marketing Assistant at HYO.
I would like to apply for the above position and I have attached my CV for your consideration.
I have a number of skills gained from working on marketing projects. I have outlined these in an online portfolio which you can view at www.wordpressaddress.com
Thank you for taking the time to view my CV and my portfolio and I look forward to hopefully hearing from you soon.
The added benefit of the portfolio is that when you are found online, you are in control of the content and the impression that you are giving.
Your portfolio has been created specifically with the employer, and the job, in mind, and you have hopefully crafted it to perfection. It's much better to be found online in this controlled way than it is for the employer to stumble across you on Facebook or Twitter.
Good luck with creating your portfolio. If you need any help, get in touch with me - I would be happy to look over your online portfolio and give you advice.