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Online Career Portfolios: What They Are, Why You Should Have One & What to Include

– Posted in: Career Management Career Marketing Internet Job Searching

Technological advances have made job searching online part and parcel of any serious effort to find or change employment.  In fact, it’s hard to imagine a job search being very effective without some social media/social networking site (SNS) component.  Maximizing the tools available for use on the Internet will significantly increase your chances of job hunting success.

When job searching online, you should have a comprehensive social media strategy.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Qwiki, among others, are becoming ever more popular tools among job hunters.  In fact, it’s possible that at some point employers and recruiters may not even consider applicants that don’t have an online presence.  Consider it the Internet version of typos in your resume:  Your application will be dismissed out of hand.

So, let’s assume you’re using at least one of the social media profile pages (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc), and perhaps something requiring a little more technical skill like Pinterest or Qwiki.  What else can you do?

You can display your work in an online career portfolio.  What’s an online career portfolio?  Exactly what it sounds like.  Used initially almost exclusively by freelancers to showcase work in order to attract clients, it is now being increasingly used when job searching online.  An online portfolio is a way for you to grant immediate access to examples of your work product to recruiters and potential employers.  An online portfolio enables you to make a complete job application available to anyone anywhere at anytime.

If you decide that the work you do lends itself to being displayed in an online forum, it’s time to decide which format works best.  Should you use a blog?  A website?  LinkedIn applications? Or should your job searching online efforts include the use of a dedicated online career portfolio solution, one solely intended to serve as a  repository for the work that is relevant to the audience you’re targeting?  Remember, the goal is to enhance your web presence, to establish yourself as an expert in your field or industry, and to strengthen what is essentially your personal brand.

Even if you work in a profession such as law or finance, an online career portfolio may be useful because it enables you to make accessible a consistent record of your accomplishments on the internet, thereby increasing your visibility.  Ensure, however, that whatever you post does not violate some provision of any employment agreement or disclose proprietary information that it is the property of an employer, either past or current.

There are some simple things to remember when creating your online career portfolio, including:

  • Choose only your best work and then only that which displays well. Have you been interviewed as an expert in your profession and is that available as either an MP3 file or video file? Are there news articles that reference you as a source? Perhaps a PowerPoint presentation that demonstrates your accomplishments and expertise? Charts or graphs? Examples of your work? Reference letters? All of these present well on the internet and would make great additions to your portfolio.
  • Ensure that the work you include is relevant to your audience. Always remain aware of your brand and keep your audience in mind. If you are a software developer, for example, your online career portfolio is not the proper place to showcase photos from your last vacation in Cancun.
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  • Quality, not quantity.  Pick examples of your best work, even if it isn’t your most recent (hopefully it won’t be outdated either).
  • Make sure you present a uniform, professional appearance across all social media platforms. Cross-referencing Facebook, LinkedIn or other SNS should only be done if you are sure the content won’t embarrass you or otherwise negatively impact your job searching online.
  • Use common sense and discretion. You can use the edited text from your resume and biography to build out your online career portfolio, but the sudden appearance of your resume on the internet will alert your current employer to the fact that you are thinking of changing jobs. The best timing for launching an online career portfolio would be when you are between jobs and the best purpose of an online portfolio would be to fortify your personal brand and strengthen your reputation as an expert in your profession. Include your contact information clearly on each web page of your portfolio and if you are a good fit for a position recruiters will still contact you, even if you haven’t specifically stated you are seeking a new position.
  • Be creative. Your presentation is limited only by your imagination.  Show that you are Internet and tech savvy.  Use this as another tool to display your professionalism and skill set.

There are many tools available to help you create an online career portfolio, distinguished by the type of work you wish to show other people.  No matter which you choose, choose one:  Your online job searching efforts can only benefit.

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About the author: Michelle Dumas is a multiply-certified, national-award-winning professional resume writer and career marketing expert widely recognized as pioneering thought-leader and trend-setter in the employment services industry. With 20 years of experience, Michelle has helped 10,000+ job seekers in all 50 U.S. states and across the world land rewarding jobs and build fulfilling careers.

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