What is an ePortfolio or Career Portfolio and How Do I Create One?

Today’s Ask Dr. Diane:  When I graduated from high school, I was told to set up a career portfolio.  What is that and how do I do it? 

For a complete explanation for “what is a career portfolio” click here.  The basic definition of a career portfolio is a collection of things that represent your skills and accomplishments.  Like a resume, it contains your education, awards, honors, work experience and strengths. 

There are several ways to develop a career portfolio.  You can find sites where you can pay to upload media you have designed or other things you would like to highlight to potential employers.  There are also a lot of free sites like Linkedin where you can display a lot of your information for others to find you and see your skills and abilities. Many professionals such as educators, journalists, artists and others have used career portfolios for years.  Recently many other types of job-seekers are finding that they want to be able to showcase more of their skills and abilities as well. 

It can take a bit of a time commitment to initially set up your portfolio, but in the end, it will be easier to update and add things once it is prepared. 

Quintcareers.com gives the following examples of things you should include in your portfolio:

  1. Career Summary and Goals: A description of what you stand for (such as work ethic, organizational interests, management philosophy, etc.) and where you see yourself in two to five years.
  2. Professional Philosophy/Mission Statement: A short description of the guiding principles that drive you and give you purpose. Read more in our article, Using a Personal Mission Statement to Chart Your Career Course.
  3. Traditional Resume: A summary of your education, achievements, and work experience, using a chronological or functional format. If you need help developing a resume, visit Quintessential Careers: Fundamentals of a Good Resume.
  4. Scannable/Text-Based Resume: A text-only version of your resume should also be included. More information about this type of resume can be found at: Quintessential Careers: Scannable Resume Fundamentals.
  5. Skills, Abilities and Marketable Qualities: A detailed examination of your skills and experience. This section should include the name of the skill area; the performance or behavior, knowledge, or personal traits that contribute to your success in that skill area; your background and specific experiences that demonstrate your application of the skill.
  6. List of Accomplishments: A detailed listing that highlights the major accomplishments in your career to date. Accomplishments are one of the most important elements of any good job-search. Read more in our article, For Job-Hunting Success: Track and Leverage Your Accomplishments.
  7. Samples of Your Work: A sampling of your best work, including reports, papers, studies, brochures, projects, presentations, etc. Besides print samples, you can also include CD-ROMs, videos, and other multimedia formats.
  8. Research, Publications, Reports: A way to showcase multiple skills, including your written communications abilities. Include any published papers and conference proceedings.
  9. Testimonials and Letters of Recommendations: A collection of any kudos you have received -– from customers, clients, colleagues, past employers, professors, etc. Some experts even suggest including copies of favorable employer evaluations and reviews.
  10. Awards and Honors: A collection of any certificates of awards, honors, and scholarships.
  11. Conference and Workshops: A list of conferences, seminars, and workshops you’ve participated in and/or attended.
  12. Transcripts, Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications: A description of relevant courses, degrees, licenses, and certifications.
  13. Professional Development Activities: A listing of professional associations and conferences attended — and any other professional development activities.
  14. Military records, awards, and badges: A listing of your military service, if applicable.
  15. Volunteering/Community Service: A description of any community service activities, volunteer or pro bono work you have completed, especially as it relates to your career.
  16. References List: A list of three to five people (including full names, titles, addresses, and phone/email) who are willing to speak about your strengths, abilities, and experience. At least one reference should be a former manager. Read more in our article: The Keys to Choosing and Using the Best Job References in Your Job Search.

eHow has a useful article for how to create your online career portfolio for free. 

They also suggest the following tips and warnings:

Tips & Warnings

  • Creating an online portfolio will increase your chance of landing your dream job
  • Always be honest with yourself when displaying your qualifications
  • Give your website address to prospective employers to market yourself
  • Don’t be dishonest because it will backfire!
  • Only give your website to legitimate employers
  • Do not include official transcripts online because it includes your SSN
  • Only give your personal information to only jobs you have applied for
  • Do not include your web portfolio address on your online resume with any online career site such as Monster, Hot Jobs, Vault and Career Path. Read more by clicking here.

The Fox School of Business had an interesting article about how you should spend a moment to Google yourself to see what others might find out about you online.  They reference the following statistics:  44% of hiring managers use google, myspace, and facebook to do online background checks on candidates. Nearly 1/3 of these background checks lead to rejection of a candidate.

Some tips they suggest to create your own online image include:

  1. Join Linkedin.com.  This is a great site that will allow you to create a professional social networking “resume” and allows you the chance to connect to a lot of great contacts.  Your linkedin.com profile will also show up when you google your name.  Use this to your advantage and list all of your strengths, education, and experience using well written short descriptions. 
  2. Start a blog.  Starting a blog is not just for people with uncommon niche interests.  Find a topic you find interesting and is relevant to your professional life and write in it often.  Read other blogs on industry news and comment.  All of these small things will help to create a good social presence for your on the internet. 
  3. Check your Myspace and Facebook profiles.  If there is anything that would give an employer the wrong impression of you, take it down!  Pictures should be professional.  You can stand out from the pack if you use your myspace or facebook page as another tool in your job search strategy.  Not everyone has the attitude of “it’s just a social profile.”  Make sure all privacy settings are enabled so only close friends can see things about you.
  4. For those more web savvy people, start a website or create an online resume.  These can be great additions to your paper resume and you can certainly include a link to your online resume on your paper resume and in any footings or signatures of any emails you send to employers regarding your job search.   You can detail more experiences, share some volunteer experiences and even include pictures, showcase some examples of your work.  Be careful with this though….professionalism is of utmost importance.

A useful student-centered platform for building an eportfolio is available at eportfolio.org.  Once you register, you can set up your portfolio as a student, faculty or institution.  You can then control what goes into your portfolio, who can see it, and can create several versions of it to use based on who you want to view it.  There are fees for this based on how many megabytes of storage you would require. 

In schools, some students are being taught to create web pages using a virtual learning environmental (VLE) that are not as easily accessible outside of the environment in which they are created.  A good alternative for a student who wants a format that is easier to share outside a school environment, would be to get signed up with a free account on Linkedin.  Linkedin has added a lot of features that allows people to showcase more than just work experience.  Users can also import Google Docs presentations, include a WordPress blog, and there are many more options available to update and promote abilities to prospective employers or potential connections.

For an example of a Linkedin portfolio, you can look at mine by clicking here.  To see all of the options I have added to mine, you can send me a request to be linkedin with you.  I accept all invitations.  At that point, you can see how I have incorporated Google Docs, WordPress and other features to display my information.

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