Showcase Your Competencies in an Online Career Portfolio
What is a Career E-Portfolio?
A Career E-Portfolio is a website created for the purpose of a job search. The audience will be employers. When considering the content, ask yourself: “How can my skills, achievements, and experience add value to the organization I am applying to?" "What can I offer the employer and what aspect of my education will be useful in their environment or their industry?” A career e-portfolio does not replace a resume or cover letter, rather it enhances and supplements them. When you complete your portfolio, you will type the URL link at the top of your resume, beneath your name and contact information.
How is This Portfolio Different from a Portfolio Created for a Class or Degree?
The portfolios students create as part of a class assignment or as a degree requirement may overlap in many areas with what Career Services refers to as a Career e-Portfolio. Some are used for learning assessment and some are used to introduce you to portfolios. First, don't get caught up in terminology. E-Portfolio, portfolio, career e-portfolio, personal website, and other terms are for the most part referring to the same thing: your digital profile. Based on our feedback from employers, a chief complaint they have about portfolios in general is that they are too complex, there is too much to read, and they don't target key accomplishments and skills relevant to a specific job or industry. From students' points of view, we have heard that the process is time consuming and it's difficult to maintain their portfolios after they are created. After the initial creation of your portfolio, maintaining it should become second nature, similar to updating your resume or LinkedIn profile. That is why the style of portfolio we are recommending is minimal in content and focused on achievements and relevant skills. (Note: Portfolio content will vary depending on the student's field of study. A writing sample for an accounting major will be different from a writing sample for a history major.)
If I Already Have a Portfolio, Do I Need To Edit it and/or Create a New One?
You do not have to create a new portfolio unless you want to. Many student portfolios we have seen have excellent content and are designed professionally. Career Services plans to create a central portfolio "center" for St. Edward's students and employers. The proposed plan is that students would submit their portfolio for review by Career Services prior to posting for employers. The portfolio will be reviewed for professionalism, succinct content, and achievement/skills focus. Career Services does not consider itself the "experts" in portfolio content related to a student's field of study (for example, bioinformatics, photography, graphic design, broadcast journalism, etc.) Your faculty, advisors, and portfolio classes are better equipped to assist you in this area. Career Services, however, will assess portfolios from a job search perspective. If you think your portfolio is satisfactory, you don't need to make changes. If you want it reviewed by Career Services, you can schedule an appointment in Moody Hall 134.
Do Employers Look at e-Portfolios?
Some employers will review e-portfolios and some will not. Career Services polled over 60 employers at a recent Job and Internship Fair and in focus groups. We asked their opinion on Career e-Portfolios and they were candid with their answers. Generally, the HR staff or recruiters who travel to job fairs will not have time to review portfolios. However, we were told that the interest would be at the company itself, usually with the Hiring Managers. Many employers did express an interest in portfolios.
According to a Spring 2013 survey by Hart Research Associates on behalf of The Association of American Colleges and Universities: "more than four in five employers say an electronic portfolio would be useful to them in ensuring that job applicants have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their company or organization." Those students who have an e-portfolio link on their resume will have a competitive edge over other students with employers who do review portfolios. Since you want to show employers that you are willing to "go the extra mile" and stand out in the crowd, it is worthwhile to invest time in a Career e-Portfolio.
What Do Employers Want In A Career e-Portfolio?
Almost all employers agree that the portfolio should not be very voluminous or hard to navigate. Employers are interested in skills and achievements. They don't have time, for example, to read all of your research papers and review all of your projects. Think in terms of most outstanding achievements, rather than a list of every club you belong to and every activity you participated in. NACE, the National Association of Colleges and Employers provides a 2014 report from an employer survey, with a list of skills that employers are most interested in, regardless of a student's major. Below you will find a list of the skills most important to employers. Students should, of course, include skills that match their field of study and career path. For example, photography and graphic design students would have a different skill set from accounting majors.
How Much Time Is Invested in Creating and Maintaining A Career e-Portfolio?
It is hard to answer how much time you will spend in creating your portfolio. It will vary depending on the volume of content and how much time you invest in design and style. A recommendation is that if you are spending so much time developing your portfolio that you can't keep up and you procrastinate in completing it, you are probably spending more time on it than you need. Employers don't want volume; they want quality and emphasis on achievements and skills. - Once you've created your portfolio, try to update it monthly or at least every semester, the way you would update your resume and LinkedIn Profile.
What Skills Are Employers Seeking?
According to employer respondents to the National Association of Colleges and Employers' (NACE) Job Outlook Survey (Oct. 2013), the following are skills that all employers are seeking, regardless of your major and career path. Your portfolio should contain content that demonstrates you have these skills:
Employers rate the importance of candidate skills/qualities:
Skill/Quality Weighted Average Rating *
Ability to work in a team structure 4.55
Ability to make decisions/solve problems 4.50
Ability to plan, organize, prioritize work 4.48
Ability to verbally communicate with persons 4.48
inside/outside the organization
Ability to obtain and process information 4.37
Ability to analyze quantitative data 4.25
Technical/field specific knowledge related to the job 4.01
Proficiency with computer software programs 3.94
Ability to create and/or edit written reports 3.62
Ability to sell or influence others 3.54
(*5 point scale; 5= Extremely important, 4=Very important, 3= Somewhat important,
2= Not very important, 1=Not at all important)
(Source: Job Outlook 2014, National Association of Colleges and Employers)