At a recent information technology career fair hosted by Temple University’s Fox School of Business, students were required to bring their e-portfolios, digital showcases of their work and educational experiences that include commentary and explanation and tell an engaging story through images, documents, and hyperlinks. These electronic portfolios will increasingly become the preferred reference tool for employers seeking talent, and for educators evaluating student learning outcomes, says Heather Hiles, founder and CEO of Pathbrite (www.pathbrite.com), an education technology company that facilitates the designing of educational e-portfolios. “What’s special about Pathbrite is that people who have our portfolios own the digitized copies of their data and we hold in the cloud the content they create. The basic accounts are free, so people can own their data for life and choose when, where, and how it gets shared.” Hiles offers five tips on the benefits of digital portfolio technology and about developing your professional profile online.
1) An e-portfolio provides a place where people can aggregate, track, and showcase what they’ve learned and achieved by pulling together artifacts (digitized examples and photos of their work, interests, or studies) to create an organized presentation. You can include qualitative reflections, but also empirical information such as transcripts and test scores.
2) For each artifact you include in a portfolio, you have the opportunity to give it a title, a description, or tags to explain what it means to you and what your role was with it. It’s that qualitative, contextual information that is rich and informative. It’s what’s missing from a résumé or LinkedIn profile.
3) Studies have shown that the use of e-portfolios in education improved writing ability and deepened critical thinking skills. Students developed greater mastery and a greater sense of ownership of what they learned, and were better able to articulate it to potential employers.
4) The trend of employers scrutinizing social media accounts to try to determine who potential hires are—piecing together a story based on what they find on Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms—is going to continue. Rather than passively hoping that what’s out there is flattering, you can be proactive by cultivating portfolios that say what you need them to say about you.
5) Be your authentic self. You want to be hired for a position for which you are the right fit. Employers can assess your fit only if you’re being yourself and you’re putting out there what you really love to do and what you’re really good at, even when you’re identifying where you have real challenges. You have to be authentic about it all.