Me and portfolios
After my last article about how to write a resume, I decided to take a closer look at digital portfolios for your career. I have worked with academic portfolios a lot in my teaching career, and I have created a digital portfolio as a teacher, but I never really spent much time and thoughts on who can benefit from having one.
So I really wanted to do an overview of The Who, Why, What, Where, And When
What is a digital career portfolio
Just like a resume, a digital portfolio is used to show your work experience, your skills, and your achievements. But here you have the opportunity to use multimedia to make it more interesting, and a better representation of who you are. To be able to include drawings, photos, videos, and audio will better showcase your professional capabilities.
It is not replacing a resume and a cover letter, it is a complement to these, more of a show than tell.
Why is it important?
A digital career portfolio is not only for applying for a job, it is so much more than that. Besides being a great complement to your resume, it can also be a fantastic networking tool. It is easy to get out there to be seen by using social media for example, and it is accessible 24/7.
Using visuals to demonstrate your skills, whether it is photos or videos, gives a more complete picture of your capabilities, and shows so much more of you as a person. And showcasing you as a person is not just done through the content, no, the way you decide to design your digital portfolio also tells a lot about who you are. Are you minimalistic and well organized? Are you a person of few words, are you presenting yourself in a trustworthy way? All of the content and design together should tell a true story about your professional self.
And a portfolio is easy to keep up-to-date. You update it in one place, your web site, and done. You don’t want any old, no longer accurate, paper portfolios floating around, and with a digital portfolio that is taken care of.
What should I include in my portfolio
First of all, I want to say as a general rule, focus all your content from an employer’s point-of-view. The purpose is to show what qualities you can bring to the employer, not what you wish your future to be.
It is also important to be as true as possible to yourself in the way you design your portfolio. With this, I mean that although you might be a very colorful, talkative person in your private life, let the portfolio be a reflection of your professional self. Are you colorful you can add some color to your portfolio, but remember the main purpose to show what you have to offer an employer?
The portfolio should showcase your best work, not all your work. You can have a link to the complete work history in your portfolio but this is your place to impress so don’t overcrowd it with work that doesn’t impress.
If you are in a creative field it is natural what you can showcase using photos and videos, but if you are not there are still things you can show. Maybe you have done a case study? Did you do any research you are proud of? Maybe you have done some presentations and/or public speaking? And of course, if you have any certifications and professional licenses, show them not just tell about them.
For each work sample, you include it is important to write a detailed caption, whether it is a photo, a video, or a slideshow, you should include information about what company you were working at or for, the goal of that specific project, and your role. And if it was a team project remember to credit all other people that were involved.
Where can I publish my digital portfolio?
If you already have a personal website that you like somewhere, I suggest you create your portfolio there. But if not there are many free and paid alternatives out there.
Let’s first talk about free spaces to build a web site, which really is what a digital portfolio is. Many of them have restrictions that might not be suitable for your digital professional portfolio, for example, they can restrict what type of files, and the size of the files you can upload. They might be very limited in how much customization you can do, and very often the will put adds on your website, which might not give a professional impression.
There are also a lot of subscription web sites which usually offers both free and paid options. I will have a link to a document with my 4 favorite free and subscription websites. Most of these have usually a great deal of templates you can start building your portfolio from if you are not used to building websites, and many are directed especially to building portfolios.
The last alternative is of course to build a portfolio from scratch. To do so you need knowledge about building websites, and a place to put them on the internet, a so-called web hotel, which can be costly if the portfolio is your only purpose for building a website. On the other hand, you can use your own domain, and if you are lucky and have a less common name you can use your first.lastname.com for example.
My final thoughts
I am convinced that a digital portfolio is something everyone should create. It is not just a way to apply for a job, it is a networking tool and a great reminder to yourself what you are capable of.
If you are interested in the video on the topic I will link it down below. In the video, I show some of the places and templates you can use for your digital professional portfolio.