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Digital Portfolios: Linking Your Work To The World

Professional portfolios demonstrate skills and experiences, and signify an admin’s dedication to his or her profession.

Do you need a job? Want to impress your boss? Think about creating an e-portfolio.

Ebony Waller originally created her online portfolio as part of completing a Master’s Degree in instructional design. Eventually she decided to stay on the admin career track, so she adjusted a few pages and added some work samples and a blog to better represent herself as a career administrative professional. The site’s been up for about 18 months and Waller receives at least one unsolicited job offer per month from people who come across her portfolio, her blog or connect with her sites via LinkedIn. And she’s not even job hunting.

If you have a job, an e-portfolio can impress your boss. That never hurts. Rhonda Kilburn, CAP-OM, developed her e-portfolio to help with goal setting at annual performance review. She took the print version of her portfolio and converted it into scanned images and files that she could share electronically through a shared network folder with her executive. She created a shared folder called “Rhonda Kilburn Portfolio,” and created a folder to mirror each section of her print portfolio with the digital files. Even the routine and mundane tasks or projects took on a new light when showcased in this way for her executive to review. Kilburn’s boss was impressed. It made the annual review and goal-setting process a much more enjoyable and productive exercise for both of them.

Convinced? Great. Let’s get started on creating your professional e-portfolio.

What is it?

A digital professional portfolio is a collection of work samples, training/education certificates, and other materials (such as a resume and letters of recommendation) that demonstrates your professional experience and skills in a dynamic, online format. It’s a professional representation of you that shows actual work products you have completed and provides proof of your on-the-job performance, abilities, skills, awards, and accomplishments.

There’s no right or wrong recipe for the perfect portfolio, but the most dynamic ones usually include a variety of text, photos, graphics, downloadable files, and video/audio components that lend credibility to your career accomplishments in a way a resume alone can’t.

Who needs it?

If you’re job seeking or gainfully employed, creating an online portfolio can enhance your career. Giving employers the ability to review your work online before they meet you provides an innovative point of distinction between your resume and the stack he or she has on their desk.

For those admins headed toward independent virtual assistance or freelancing, a digital portfolio is a readymade website that demonstrates professional credibility and promotes the admin’s services.

Even admins who are well established in their careers or nearing retirement can reap some benefit from creating a digital portfolio. It’s a great way to learn basic web skills that can be helpful both in and outside of your profession.

Build one

Creating a digital portfolio does not require a degree in computer science or significant web development knowledge. Thanks to WordPress, a simple, easy-to-use (and free) online platform, getting a portfolio up and working can be done in five basic steps.

1. Create a free WordPress website. Simply go to WordPress.com and sign up for an account. Do not confuse WordPress.org with WordPress.com. The former is geared toward WordPress developers.

2. Setup your WordPress.com website. Make sure to fill out important information in the WordPress profile, such as contact info, the name of the site, etc. Go through the sections under the Settings tab to ensure the site is set up properly. You can also change the look and feel of the site via the Appearances tab.

3. Create pages for the website. Create a page for each section of the digital portfolio, including home page, resume, letters of recommendation, skills, work samples, and any other relevant pages.

4. Add content to the website pages. Compile all the professional materials for the site and upload the content to the previously created pages on the site.

5. Test all of your pages, links, and downloads to ensure they display and work properly.

In addition to WordPress, there are other online platforms out there that will work for setting up a digital portfolio. LinkedIn, for instance, provides a very basic option for showcasing your resume, recommendations, and skills set. However, WordPress offers the broadest and most useful suite of features and tools for creating a digital portfolio. The platform is so widely adopted that there are a wealth of resources, including apps, developers and firms, available for those who need assistance with their portfolios. The WordPress site also offers comprehensive instructions and help forums on everything from uploading content to changing the design of a site.

Include These

The ultimate goal of a digital portfolio is to showcase your skills and background. It can also act as a platform for boosting your professional visibility online. To achieve both of these objectives, you need to include a dynamic set of materials that demonstrate your talents and drive people to your portfolio.

But what materials should you include?

There’s no magic combination of materials, but these are a few must-haves if you want to make your professional e-portfolio a must-read.

Introduction/bio – Regardless of your e-portfolio’s purpose, you need to introduce yourself to those who visit your site. Not everyone who views it will be familiar with you, so this is an opportunity to draw them in by giving a broad overview of who you are, what you do, and your professional goals and accomplishments.

Résumé – Once you’ve hooked visitors, you can dive deeper into your professional credentials by providing a web appropriate version of your résumé, which includes professional experience, accomplishments, career objectives, and skills. This is one of the most important components of your e-portfolio.

Work samples – The best way to leave a lasting impression is to make things visual. Capture screenshots or upload scanned copies of forms, checklists, or other documents you’ve created to do this. Get in the habit of taking photos at events you coordinate and include them in your e-portfolio. Provide a brief explanation with each work sample explaining the problem or project, your role in it, the outcome, and the specific skills it demonstrates.

Social media links – If you have a professional presence on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook, feel free to include links to the profiles in your e-portfolio. Make sure the material on these profiles is actually career or work-oriented, though. Personal social media profiles can actually damage your professional reputation and hurt your job chances if you post inappropriate material.

Blog - Blogging is a valuable tool for admins who want to demonstrate their writing and research skills, as well as knowledge of their industry, profession or other areas of expertise. By regularly writing and posting articles, you can demonstrate yet another level of engagement and dedication to your career. It’s also extremely helpful for admins making a job transition from one area to another. By writing about topics within the new field, you can demonstrate your knowledge without having actual on-the-job experience.

What not to post - Do not include personal data such as home address, home phone, or mobile number. Think about setting up a Gmail or similar Web-based account to receive online e-mail or set up a “contact me” form.

Admins who are serious about and dedicated to their careers recognize the importance of digital portfolios and their wide range of career development and advancement benefits. Put the spotlight on you and your career and get noticed today with your own online portfolio!

Examples of e-portfolios

Access Ebony’s Waller’s online portfolio at www.EbonyWaller.com. Click around and you’ll also find her blog. It’s a great display of writing ability and lets her personality shine through.

Kemetia Foley, CAP-OM, created her new site about a year ago and now includes her previous blog. Look over her complete site at www.adminrenegade.com.

(Julie Perrine, CAP-OM, is the founder and CEO of All Things Admin, a training and mentoring resource for administrative professionals. She is the author of "The Innovative Admin: Unleash the Power of Innovation in Your Administrative Career." Find more career advice and download free templates at www.AllThingsAdmin.com. Follow Julie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/julieperrine.)

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