General Education

How to Design a Meaningful Digital Portfolio

How to Design a Meaningful Digital Portfolio
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Sara Kim profile
Sara Kim February 26, 2019

The modern workplace continues to shift to adapt to the skills of today’s digital nomads, and aside from the traditional cover letter and resume, employers often enthusiastically seek work

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The modern workplace continues to shift to adapt to the skills of today’s digital nomads, and aside from the traditional cover letter and resume, employers often enthusiastically seek work samples and completed projects. Digital portfolios, also known as electronic or online portfolios, provide the space for uploading documents, images, and work samples for easy transport and showcasing to prospective networks. Not only do digital portfolios help job seekers stand out as candidates, but they also help with staying in touch post-networking.

When applying for jobs, including a weblink to a digital portfolio is an easy way to direct future employers and recruiters to work and writing samples. In the field of journalism, for example, electronic portfolios come in handy for highlighting published articles, documenting previous opportunities within media, and showcasing other talents such as podcasting, interviewing, and designing infographics. Weblinks are easily transportable and can be included anywhere, such as on business cards, cover letters, resumes, and email signatures.

An online portfolio differs in content, layout, theme, and messaging for each person based on individual personalities, skills, content, and experiences. Employers often look for unique and creative candidates who think outside-the-box, and digital portfolios strive to display just that. Think about putting personality and character into each aspect of an electronic portfolio so employers can know who to expect. The colors, theme, layout, and language used throughout the portfolio, for instance, showcase personality and express individuality. Here are some other items to think about when designing a digital portfolio:

Showcase skills and highlight strengths

To employers, electronic portfolios define candidates and show how they brand and promote themselves in their chosen career fields. When designing a digital portfolio, consider showcasing the strongest assets and skills to create one cohesive brand. Do employers see a creative writer or an investigative reporter? A social media guru or a computer programmer? A doctor or a biologist? Ideally, the elements of an online portfolio will align with a specific industry, so it is best to think about a collection of strengths that are necessary and relatable to the chosen career field.

Products and work samples

Gather all previous work and product samples, as well as published articles, case studies, or research, that will align nicely with the theme and goal of the online portfolio. A broadcast television reporter, for instance, would want to include video reels and previously filmed broadcast reports to highlight their experience with reporting for television and showcase their comfort in front of a camera. On the other hand, those pursuing careers in the medical field may want their digital portfolios to include case studies, reports, and prior research to demonstrate their in-depth knowledge and understanding on a specific topic. Product and work samples should be varied and diverse to present a well-rounded image.

Content and messaging

Curate content based on the cover letter and resume, thinking about how to elaborate on what is being mentioned on them. Each section and header of the electronic portfolio, for example, should include details expanding upon what is included on the cover letter or traditional one-page resume. Some important header tabs and linking pages to consider include:

  • About Me/Biography

  • Skills/CV/Resume

  • Work Samples/Published Works

  • Contact Me

  • Let’s Connect

Of course, each page will depend on the career field and necessary skills and work samples previously determined. The “Let’s Connect” page is ideal for linking external profiles, such as social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Visuals and photos

All creative spaces include visuals to break up heavy content and provide eye-catching design. Visuals can include original photography, videography, infographics, and personal logo or signature. Images and visuals add a deeper personal touch and will make the digital portfolio more inviting for employers, especially those who seek to know more about their potential employee. It is highly recommended to use professional photos such as headshots or portraits.

Ultimately, electronic portfolios help sell marketable skills and act as supplements to resumes. Whereas resumes typically list the most important information, such as basic contact and past jobs, on one-page, digital portfolios offer endless space for a variety of content. To impress any employer and stand out in a tough job market, electronic portfolios are creative, out-of-the-box, and expandable resumes. While digital portfolios are often appealing to those in the communications, fine arts, graphic design, and journalism fields, they are not limited to any specific industry.

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