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Five Reasons Why You Need a Portfolio and Seven Reasons Why It Should Be Online

Do you have a portfolio? Is it online?

After reading Cammy Bean's post today, I started thinking about all the reasons why an online portfolio makes a lot of sense. Actually, let's start with just having a portfolio, whether online or in a 3-ring binder.

So two lists--one on why you need a portfolio and another on why it should be online. Oh--and when I'm talking portfolio, I'm talking the career kind, not the kind that you had in school.

You Need a Portfolio Because . . .

1. People want to see your work, not just hear about it.

2. Six months from now you'll forget the details of the project. A year from now you'll forget big chunks of it. Five years from now you won't even remember you did it.

3.  On those days when you're feeling particularly incompetent, some time with your portfolio can be a great reminder of what you've accomplished.

4. When you decide it's time for a career change, your portfolio can be a source of inspiration. It will remind you of work you used to do and love. It will also point you to themes and talents that you may never have noticed. There's something about seeing a body of work together that says more than each of the pieces on their own.

5. A lot of other people are starting to do it, in all kinds of professions. If it hasn't come to yours, it probably will soon. Might as well be driving the train, rather than riding on it.

Your Porfolio Should Be Online Because . . .

1.  When you move or the house catches on fire or your spouse "accidentally" throws away that box of "stuff," you'll still have it.

2.  With digital records of your work, you can easily manipulate them to tell different stories and present different sides of yourself, depending on the situation. It's more difficult to do this with physical artifacts. And let me be clear--I don't mean falsifying information. I mean having the ability to create a multimedia presentation or to create customized portfolios for each employer with whom you may be interviewing.

3.  People will be more likely to look at it--it's available to anyone with whom you choose to share it, whenever they want to look at it. Most employers won't spend a lot of time thumbing through your physical portfolio--too much pressure with you looming over them or a feeling that they don't have the time to really absorb it. But they might spend some time perusing the digital version if they can look at their leisure.

4. You can't forget it in someone's office.

5. It doesn't clutter up anyone's desk. (I've seen a look of panic on a few people's faces when faced with the prospect of thumbing through a thick binder of materials).

6. You can blow people away with your technology skills.

7.  It gives your networking efforts "legs." Put the URL to your electronic portfolio on your business card, in your email signature, on your blog, whatever. It can sell you before you even get in the door.

So what do you think? Do I have it right? Or do you think that portfolios--particularly online versions--are unnecessary?


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