Job Searching the Web 2.0 Way: Setting up an Online Portfolio
In our ongoing case study of Shari, a mid-career training professional who's integrating Web 2.0 tools into her job search process, we've been looking at how Shari could use various technology tools to help her get organized. First we set up a job search dashboard and then we integrated Google Calendar, Google Alerts and Jott into her job search. Today we're going to delve into another of Shari's key job search needs--documenting her skills and experiences to share with potential employers.
The Professional Portfolio
Like many professionals with years of experience, Shari has produced a lot of materials that document her skills and abilities. But like most people, she hasn't taken the time to organize and pull together these materials to create a professional portfolio.
Having a portfolio addresses a few career issues. Besides being an obvious way to document your skills, a portfolio can also give you a better sense of the kinds of work you want to be doing in your next job. A few years ago I was working with a company to help their employees develop their career plans. As part of the process, I had everyone create a portfolio. One of the participants was particularly resistant to the idea, but since it was a requirement of a certification program, he did it anyway. The next time that we met, he was a changed man. He told me that the process of pulling together his portfolio not only made him feel better about all the skills and knowledge he had to offer, it also made him realize that he needed to refocus his career efforts into some talent areas he'd forgotten he had. It was an incredibly powerful exercise for him that ultimately led him to seek out some new challenges with his organization. This was pretty profound, because to that point, this man had not been one of the company's stars.
I've written before about the need for every professional to have an online portfolio, but fortunately Shari didn't need any convincing. She loved the idea and wanted to know how it would work.
Your Working Portfolio
First I explained to Shari that she needs to set up a working portfolio. This is a portfolio that includes all of the work samples and documentation that she might potentially want to share with an employer, including:
- PowerPoint presentations
- Examples of job aides she's created
- Sample training modules
- Performance Evaluations
Obviously most of this she would have in electronic format. For hard copies (like copies of credentials or performance evaluations), she can scan and upload jpegs to her online portfolio.
Creating her portfolio is going to help Shari get a clearer picture of herself and her strengths and achievements, too, which is very valuable when you're in job search mode--especially if you need an ego boost, as most of us do during that kind of transition.
I suggested that Shari think carefully about how she might want to organize her portfolio. She can do it by type of materials (i.e., a page of job aides, another page of sample training modules, etc.). She might also want to think about organizing her materials to illustrate her key strengths. There are a lot of different ways to go and Shari could actually set up several different strategies so that she could easily cut and paste for her presentation portfolio, which I'm going to discuss next.
The Presentation Portfolio
Shari's working portfolio is what I call the "everything but the kitchen sink" portfolio. When she applies for particular jobs, though, employers won't want to wade through all of her work samples to find the things that are most relevant to them. That's where Shari will need to set up presentation portfolios. These will be smaller, customized portfolios that will showcase the key skills and work experiences that Shari will want to highlight, depending on the company she's applying to and the specific requirements of the job.
A presentation portfolio is a subset of her working portfolio and it will tell the specific story about Shari that makes the most sense for a particular employer and job. Because her portfolio is online, creating a presentation portfolio for individual jobs should be relatively easy--a matter of cutting and pasting to tell the best story.
Using Wikispaces and Slideshare to Create a Working Portfolio
I suggested to Shari that Wikispaces might be her best bet for creating her working portfolio. It's free, flexible and easy to use. Plus Beth Kanter has an awesome example that I used to demonstrate to Shari how her working portfolio might be organized.
During one of our calls, I showed Shari how she could sign up for an account and begin creating pages and editing her wiki. We also discussed how she could embed her Powerpoint presentations by uploading her Powerpoints to Slideshare and then copying and pasting the embed code into her wiki. That way people could view her content without having to download the PPT. Within a few minutes, Shari was creating pages and practicing embedding presentations.
Creating a Presentation Portfolio
Ultimately, Shari will want to create separate presentation portfolios for different jobs that interest her. Ideally, she'd create these in response to specific job openings and companies, much as you would customize your cover letter and resume. Future employers want to see exactly how you fit into their culture and meet their needs, so a customized portfolio will always be best. By creating her portfolio online, this should be relatively easy for Shari to do because she'll simply cut and paste from her working portfolio to create her presentation portfolios.
I discussed with Shari that we might have a few ways to approach this, depending on how she wants to go. She could use Google Page Creator to create something like this social media resume, but designed for specific jobs. She could also create different wikis using her Wikispaces account (you can have multiple wikis once you set up Wikispaces) that includes only the content from her working portfolio that she wants to highlight. We'll be taking a closer look at that as Shari continues to work with her career coach and think through how she wants to brand herself for her job search.
For now, Shari is focusing on setting up her working portfolio and uploading and organizing all of her work documentation. Once that's done and she's clearer about where she wants to focus, we can start looking at how she wants to handle presentation portfolios.
This online portfolio will also be a great ongoing professional development tool for Shari. Once she gets a new job, she can continue to upload work samples and other information so that she's always prepared for her next job search. This will also give her a great foundation for demonstrating her growth as a professional for performance evaluations and potential advancement with her new employer.
Tomorrow will be a bit of a break from the longer posts I've been writing. I'll be discussing the concept of personal branding, one of Shari's key job search activities, and I'll be sharing some resources for you to check out to start developing your own personal brand.
Your link to "Google Page Creator" above doesn't seem to be working. Can you repost it or send it over so I can check it out?
I'm intrigued by the idea of the online portfolio, though it immediately got me worrying about whether I have anything to put in it. I know I've done a lot, but I'm not sure I have evidence of it anymore, especially from three jobs ago. Plus, a lot of work I used to do involved 'organizing': traveling around the country talking to people, rather than producing anything concrete. But I guess I've done more of that in the last couple of years.
Now to find it!
Posted by: Elisa | February 14, 2008 at 09:50 AM
Hi Elisa--it's fixed now--sorry about that.
It's interesting that you say that you're worried about getting stuff in there to document some of the kinds of work you've done, like organizing. Although it might be hard to do now, it might be good if you got into the habit of doing write-ups of projects or experience that you could put into your portfolio. That's also, obviously where process blogging on experiences could come in handy--those can be embedded right into Wikispaces.
Posted by: Michele Martin | February 14, 2008 at 10:00 AM
Thanks for the link, I'm thinking that I really need to make my portfolio less full .. and struggling with it .... I use it mostly as a "leave behind" for workshops and like to have a customized page for each workshop.
Posted by: Beth Kanter | February 15, 2008 at 03:58 PM
Thanks for this, Michele. I have an assignment for my senior midwifery students this year which is to develop their professional portfolios - they have to have one as a requirement once they are registered. Whilst I have asked them to present a paper portfolio, I have said it can be electronic if they wish. This post will be a great start for them if that is what they decide to do. cheers Sarah
Posted by: Sarah Stewart | February 18, 2008 at 12:48 PM
Thanks for inspiring me to make a start on my portfolio. Sarah http://tinyurl.com/2espdl
Posted by: Sarah Stewart | February 23, 2008 at 03:07 PM
Michele, I cannot agree more about the need for a professional top maintain their portfolio. I did this in the early 90's and have kept it up to date over the years and employers love the organization and all of the information in one place. I am moving my portfolio online now, since hiring managers or interested customers and clients will find it easier and provide more of an advantage for me. I have been using www.pzhone.com which has worked out great, their is a small charge but the features make it just as valuable as joining the ladders or any other job seeking tool. Its a necessity these days.
My experience tell me it is all about promoting yourself in the best light possible and brand or image management and presentation seems to be the best way to promote yourself in today's online environment.
Posted by: Jeff Arnold | July 05, 2009 at 10:22 PM
I have been unemployed for nearly a year at this point and a portfolio is also something the Career Counselor I just started seeing suggested. As Elisa also stated, I worry I truly have nothing to put in there other than the PPT from my Master's thesis work. Since completing my degree I have been a working manager (hotel and restaurant) that left all my computer work (and pictures) behind. I am trying to get out of management and more into the corporate, collegiate or other hospitality fields that will give me more time with my son. Any suggestions on what else I could put in my portfolio?
Posted by: Alicia Ellsworth | August 22, 2010 at 06:44 PM
Hi Alicia--I'm sorry to hear that you've been out of work for so long. It's such a rough economic climate at this point. You may want to check out this tutorial I did on how to create an online portfolio. It includes a lot of suggestions for work products. Without knowing more about your career goals, it's hard to say what portfolio items might best "sell" your skills. As I mentioned to Elisa, doing write-ups of previous projects is one option. If possible, doing some freelance projects, even if they are on a volunteer basis, that you can then document is another potential possibility.
Posted by: Michele | August 24, 2010 at 08:52 AM
Thank you Michele, I will check the tutorial out.
Posted by: Alicia | August 24, 2010 at 01:04 PM