If you’re on the hunt for a job, you’ve probably looked into lots of tools to get ahead in today’s tough market. But there’s one surprisingly powerful one that you probably keep ignoring—and that’s creating an online portfolio.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’m ignoring that advice on purpose. What would I put in an online portfolio? I’m not a developer, a web designer, or a writer.”
Well, portfolios aren’t just for specific fields anymore. In fact, they’re getting so popular that it’s almost surprising when a candidate doesn’t have one. Not only does it help you curate your online image (since it’ll pop up pretty high in your Google results), but it can also give you more opportunities to impress hiring managers.
Not sure where to start? Read our guide to building a personal website, then try these tips to turn it into a job-landing online portfolio.
1. Share Your Basic Facts in a Fun, Readable Format
First and foremost, your online portfolio should be the home of your professional biography. Yes, you have LinkedIn—but with a little time and energy, you can make your resume that much more appealing.
Make sure your portfolio includes:
- A concise but memorable “about me” telling the highlights of who you are and what you do (here’s a formula to help you out)
- The PDF version of your most up-to-date resume
- Links to the social media accounts you want to share with potential employers
- Your current contact information
2. Brag a Little
Avoid the pain of trying to squeeze the details of all your accomplishments and accolades into your resume by putting them in your online portfolio. Consider creating a “My Work” page, where you can describe the projects you’ve completed and goals you’ve reached in all their glorious detail. (Remember that employers love stats that emphasize the size or scope of your achievements.) And, if you use visuals to back them up, you’ll also make your portfolio that much more appealing and interesting for employers to scroll through. (Here are a few ideas for using visuals when you’re not in a design-related field.)
In other words, this is the perfect place to put that video clip of you being interviewed as an industry expert on the local news. It’s an ideal location for your stunning presentation at that conference. And it’s a great spot for photos of that huge volunteer event you helped organized.
In addition, this is also where you can also put those glowing recommendations from your clients or the highlights of feedback from your former boss. Just be sure to ask their permission before you do.
3. Start a Blog
Blogs are a tool for communication, and communication is critical for every job. So, by writing easy-to-read posts, you can show you’ve got that crucial area covered.
Unlike your friend’s fashion blog or your brother-in-law’s pop culture blog, you want to keep this one professional. While you don’t need to cover topics exclusive to your industry, you should make sure they all reflect your best professional self. When you start to brainstorm ideas, think about what one skill you’d want a recruiter to pull out from everything you write.
Coach a kid’s basketball team? You’re leadership material. Put together your neighborhood’s newsletter? You know design and editing. Traveled the world? You’ve got cultural savvy and planning chops.
Tip: Your blog posts don’t have to be long, but they should be regular. Nothing says “I can’t stick with it” like two lonely blog posts from 2012.
4. Prove You’re Ready for the Next Step in Your Career
Make your portfolio your platform for your dream job. If you’re switching careers or climbing the ladder, you can make that clear here. And, if you’re worried about your current boss seeing, you can do it in a subtle way.
Taken any classes that would be necessary to make the move from one field to another? Add it to the resume section. Working on your leadership skills? Write a blog about a few lessons you’ve learned from your favorite workplace leaders (be it your first boss or Sheryl Sandberg). Trying to show that you’re always open to learning? Write a quick review about an industry-related book you recently read.
Just remember to be yourself. Employers might look at dozens or even hundreds of candidates when hiring for a single position. Painting a unique picture of yourself will help you stand out from the crowd and get you that much closer to being picked to come in for an interview.
Want more? Check out these ideas on how to take your portfolio to the next level, as well as some sample personal websites to get you inspired. But know that whether you keep it simple or make it fancy, your online portfolio can be what wins over a potential employer. So what are you waiting for? Make one today!