If you have a print portfolio, you probably already know the significant value a professional portfolio can have on your professional career development. (If you don’t have one, it’s time to get one started!) For professionals who want to pursue new opportunities or new positions (even within their current company), taking your professional portfolio to another level by creating an electronic portfolio (or e-portfolio) gives you an entirely new way to showcase your talents and abilities and stand out from the crowd of competitors like never before.
Technology skills are vital to success in almost every profession. When you use the latest web-based tools to showcase your professional skills, abilities, and samples of your work, you will get noticed. There are numerous online sites you can use to load your resume and a few samples of your work. LinkedIn is actually the site I’d recommend if you want to use a free, established site that is almost plug and play. But you can also create your own free website using WordPress.com in conjunction with your own domain name (about $5-$10/year). It’s much more impressive and gives you limitless opportunities for creativity and ingenuity, all traits that perspective and current employers are looking for and things they’ll immediately see about you when they visit your e-portfolio site.
What is an electronic professional portfolio?
To define it broadly, an electronic professional portfolio includes a collection of work samples, proof of training/education, and things that relate to your professional experience and background in a dynamic web-based format which may include visual graphics, downloadable files, audio and video components. It gives you an entirely new platform where you can share your career accomplishments in ways that may not be as practical to do on paper or in a resume alone. The primary difference between a print version of your professional portfolio and an electronic portfolio is the electronic portfolio is created on an Internet-based technology or website so you can easily share it with others.
Your electronic portfolio is a professional representation of you which shows actual work product that you have completed and shows demonstrated proof of your on-the-job performance, abilities, skills, awards, and accomplishments.
Why develop an electronic portfolio?
An electronic portfolio is a fantastic tool for marketing yourself professionally. If you are searching for a job, you can send a website link for your professional portfolio to potential employers so they can preview your work before they ever meet you in person. It’s as quick as the click of a button! This is a significant way to create a point of distinction between your resume and the pile of other resumes they may have on their desk. Few in the job hunt today even have a print portfolio to show during the interview let alone an electronic portfolio to pique the recruiter’s interest before they ever interview you in person!
Electronic portfolios will differentiate you from other candidates. They reinforce what you outline on your resume for skills and abilities in a visual, creative, and innovative way. They have the potential to give you an initial introduction that is very impressive to a potential employer. When assembled with care and planning, an electronic portfolio can be very powerful in your career development. Once developed, you can market it and promote it via your other social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.
Creating an electronic portfolio is also a great self-confidence builder. It’s a great way to develop some basic website development skills, too. There’s an incredible sense of accomplishment in creating your very own e-portfolio website.
How to Develop an Electronic Portfolio
If you use a site like LinkedIn.com, complete as much of the profile information as you can. Then create a PowerPoint or SlideShare presentation with samples of your work including descriptions of what you’re showing. Connect that presentation of work samples to your LinkedIn profile using an add-on application in LinkedIn called SlideShare Presentation or Google Presentation. You may also want to investigate adding the Reading List by Amazon application, connecting your Twitter account, and more!
If you’d like to create your own custom e-portfolio site, it requires some basic website skills, but even if you don’t have any, you can still do this pretty painlessly. Here’s how:
- Reserve a domain name for your electronic portfolio website. I recommend reserving your personal name or your name + portfolio at the end. Note: This should only cost you less than $10 per year if you use a site like GoDaddy.com or DomainsMadeSimple.com.
- Create a FREE WordPress.com website. WordPress is most commonly used as a blogging platform, but you can use it for static web pages also. WordPress.com is free. WordPress.org requires a hosting package, but it also has a lot of added functionality. For your purposes here, I’d start with the free .com version.
- Forward and mask your paid domain name (URL) to your free WordPress.com site URL (optional, but more professional looking). The site you registered your domain name through should have instructions on how to do this.
- Setup your WordPress.com website. Use the help menus when you have questions. Allow some time so you can get used to how the site works and how you want to create your site.
- Create the various pages you need for your WordPress.com website. You’ll likely have pages such as: HOME, ABOUT ME, RESUME, WORK SAMPLES. You may have specific pages for specific types of work samples also including: EVENT PLANNING, DATABASE SKILLS, TRAVEL PLANNING, PROJECT MANAGEMENT, etc.
- Add content and work samples to your WordPress.com website pages. You may want to simply include screen shots of actual work so the actual file is not accessible. You’ll want to sanitize all files, graphics, and information you post so it does NOT contain any confidential or company proprietary information. But you can black out or substitute “sample company” for many items and still demonstrate your skills very visually.
- Add your e-portfolio URL to your resume heading, and start send your new website domain name out for others to view your new electronic portfolio.
Strategies to keep in mind as you develop your e-Portfolio
I’m going to share a few overall strategies you’ll want to keep in mind as you go through this website development process.
- Use your home page to capture attention, create interest, and get them to click on additional pages of your site.
- Be consistent with template/themes/styles/colors/fonts from page to page.
- Be descriptive with your Internet page titles so viewers know what they’re looking at.
- Keep your audience in mind. And keep it professional!
- Include explanations of content wherever possible, but don’t disclose employer information or any other proprietary or confidential information.
- Never say “under construction.” Either get it finished or don’t share your link until it is.
- Test all site buttons and features before sending your website address out!
- Put your website address on your resume, cover letter heading, business cards, and e-mail auto-signature.
- Be aware of security issues on the web
– You may not want to include as much detail or information online as you are able to in your printed version.
– Do not post references or their contact information online
– May want to avoid personal photos unless you have an outstanding professional headshot.
– Do not include your home address or phone number or social security number, etc.
– Simply allow them to contact you via an e-mail address – maybe consider setting up an e-mail address that is only used for this website purpose.
For more indepth support in creating your professional portfolio or e-portfolio, check out the All Things Admin Portfolio Builder products here: http://allthingsadmin.com/atawp/products-services/portfolios/
© 2011 Julie Perrine International, LLC
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Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, providing training, mentoring and resources for administrative professionals worldwide. Julie applies her administrative expertise and passion for lifelong learning to serving as an enthusiastic mentor, speaker and author who educates admins around the world on how to be more effective every day. Learn more about Julie’s books — The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career and The Organized Admin: Leverage Your Unique Organizing Style to Create Systems, Reduce Overwhelm, and Increase Productivity. And request your free copy of our special report “From Reactive to Proactive: Creating Your Strategic Administrative Career Plan” at www.AllThingsAdmin.com.