You probably have heard about the need to have an ePortfolio, especially in Learning and Development (L&D). Several of the jobs you are trying to apply for actually might require you to create one. You spend hours brainstorming, designing, and collecting artifacts for your ePortfolio. And then when it is finally ready, you might still be wondering how you can make the best out of it and how it can be a powerful tool to land the job of your dreams.
An ePortfolio—also known as electronic portfolio—is a collection of artifacts, projects, documents, and other items that endorse an individual for specific knowledge, skills, and abilities. Each item in the ePortfolio tells the story of an individual’s accomplishments and how the learning and skills acquisition took place. For this reason, ePortfolios can give applicants an edge and persuade hiring managers that they are the most qualified candidates for a job.
However, having an ePortfolio is not all that is required in this competitive time and age. Candidates must be able to use it to sell themselves and to establish a strong online presence. To achieve that, here are some important tips when using the ePortfolio in the job search process:
- Share your ePortfolio everywhere. Your ePortfolio is going to have a unique link that you should share with everyone, everywhere. Include your ePortfolio link in your e-mail signature, on your business cards, in your professional social media posts, and in your contact information. In addition, the link to your ePortfolio should be included in your application materials. Include it in the heading of your resume, in your contact information, and in the closing paragraph of your cover letter. Even if you are not actively looking for a job, allowing people to see your work can bring your next professional opportunity when least expected.
- Show; don’t tell. One of the benefits of having an ePortfolio is that it allows you not to simply claim you have skills or abilities. It provides the opportunity to showcase specific projects that speak on your behalf about those skills. For this reason, it is effective when you refer to projects you have completed in your cover letter. You can hyperlink in the letter to those projects that are housed in your ePortfolio. Similarly, during an interview, you can discuss projects in your ePortfolio and invite your audience to check your ePortfolio for further information.
- Never underestimate the power of a hobby or passion. Quite often, applicants believe their ePortfolios should only include academic or professional work. The truth is that sometimes activities that happen outside the classroom or the office are just as significant (if not more). Being part of a club, volunteering, playing a sport, or traveling can endorse an individual for qualities and skills such as discipline, collaboration, persistence, resilience, curiosity, and intercultural awareness. For hiring managers, it is often difficult to really evaluate if an individual possesses some of those skills, and documenting a hobby or leisure activity can make a powerful case for an applicant.
- Have variety in your ePortfolio. Don’t just focus on one area in your ePortfolio. Sometimes an applicant is the strongest one because he or she provides evidence of variety in his or her skill set. For instance, if you are mainly an instructional designer with a strong background designing online courses, it can give you an edge to also add training facilitation experience in a face-to-face environment. Or if your background focuses on facilitating legal/compliance training, you can document other types of training you have facilitated. This variety is also effective for those professionals who are trying to close the gap between research and practice. Their ePortfolio should demonstrate their ability to conduct research and put it to practice.
- Update your ePortfolio regularly.The ePortfolio is a journey, not a destination. Times change quickly, and the type of knowledge or tools you need now to succeed might be outdated in no time. For this reason, you have to constantly update your ePortfolio and document how you have updated your skills and training and the new things you are able to produce or do. Set aside a couple of hours each month to research the latest trends in your field and update your ePortfolio accordingly.
Miko Nino, Ph.D., (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Training & Knowledge manager at Virginia Tech. Part of his work focuses on professional development and career readiness through ePortfolios.