How to build a work portfolio that employer’s will love
When hiring for both non-technical and technical positions, companies are searching for all-star talent who take initiative, work as a team, and provide exceptional value to the organization. However, when you’re applying to a job, your resumé just becomes a piece of paper: a one page synopsis of who you are.
Is there really enough in your resumé to set you apart? Is it really enough to showcase your true potential? Many recruiters and hiring agencies are plainly saying, “No.”
Reasons to Build an Online Portfolio
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a technical field; getting hired is all about increasing your visibility to the hiring manager, recruiter, and other stakeholders. And if you want to have a prayer in getting that dream job, you’re going to need to showcase yourself with more than just a resumé.
“Having a consistent, online record of your accomplishments will make you visible on the web and stand out to recruiters,” said Angela Hills, Executive VP and managing director of North America at Cielo to the New York Times. “People with very specific technical skills, like engineers and programmers, can show examples of websites they’ve built or projects that used a particular programming language. Don’t just tell me you have this knowledge; show me how you used it.”
Angela Hills, Executive VP, New York Times
Show, Don’t Tell
Resumés tell people what you have done, but they do not tangibly show the fruits of your labor. They become a dump of words, where you try to string together phrases that make you look exceptional.
The problem is that everyone does this. It’s one thing to say what you do and it is another to show it. Instead of saying: “I’m great at writing,” link to an article that you wrote so the interviewer can get a glimpse into how you think. Now, when you get interviewed, they’ll ask you about your article to learn more about your thought process, your target audience, and the outcomes.
An Evergreen History of your Accomplishments
Let’s say you’re a budding graphic designer. How do you get a potential employer to notice a design you’re particularly proud of? You’ve already sent your resumé out to 30 companies, so how will they know this exists?
If you have an online portfolio, then there will be an ever-present link on your resumé to your history of design. All you have to do is simply upload your new project and every hiring manager who visits your portfolio will see it.
Tell a Story
People love stories. They’re memorable and they connect to us emotionally. An online portfolio gives you a chance to tell a story about yourself, demonstrate how you think, illustrate how you solve problems, and give a deeper understanding of who you are as an individual.
If you had to choose between two candidates with identical resumés, wouldn’t you lean towards the one with a robust portfolio? Moreover, if someone has more experience than you, but you have a robust online portfolio, then do they still have an advantage over you? Maybe, maybe not.
In both cases, an online portfolio gives you a chance to give a mini interview before the process has even begun. It allows you to explain things and temper assumptions that may otherwise have made you look less desirable.
How to Build A Portfolio
Understand the value of a portfolio is one thing. But if you’re looking to set up your own, you’re going to need to follow a few steps so you don’t create more problems than you’re solving. Of course, if you’re a developer/engineer, it’s best to build your portfolio using a desired framework. For those less technical, you can follow this process:
Select a Content Management System and Server Provider
Weebly or Wix are great places to get started. You could also use WordPress if you want a more robust solution. These are all basically point and click interfaces that allow you to quickly upload, edit, and deploy content. Of course, you will have to pay, but a small investment per month could land you a dream job.
Synthesize and Organize Your Content
Identify what jobs you want to apply to and what they are looking for in a candidate. Is it an analyst position? Then craft your portfolio to showcase a few projects you worked on where you harnessed your analytical skills. Is it a design position? Then show your design thinking, how you crafted them, and all the different iterations. Is it writing? Show your work, where it was published, and some statistics on how well it was received.
Select a Personal Domain
You don’t necessarily need a personal domain, but it is a nice touch and makes you look more professional. You can get some domains for a few dollars a year using a permutation of your name. Do you need a “.com” to succeed? No. You’re not trying to become famous via organic SEO and Google searches, so any top level domain label will do.
Link your Portfolio to Professional Sources
Your portfolio should be an evergreen reflection of your career growth. Make sure it’s clearly linked to your resumé, as well as your LinkedIn and any other professional media platforms you use on a regular basis. Always make sure to keep your content up-to-date and upload your latest projects and work as they are completed.