Portfolios have been around for centuries as people in different industries attempt to show their work to potential clients or employers. But the way a portfolio is designed has gone through significant renovations since the first one.
The need for a portfolio is now an almost essential requirement in many competitive professions, such as academia. As a scholar, you need to demonstrate your knowledge and skills beyond what a resume can show. Your portfolio is the way to highlight what you’re capable of doing, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been in the field long enough that you’re looking for a promotion or change of career paths. Today, the traditional method of paper portfolios is considered obsolete, though. Now, you’ll need to produce an academic digital portfolio, and when you’re putting yours together, keep these five tips in mind.
What is a Digital Portfolio?
Also termed an “electronic portfolio,” a digital portfolio is how a person evidences the work they are capable of doing. It’s a collection of your work, either showing your growth or displaying pieces you are proud of, but it’s all electronically stored. This evidence could be accessed through text, electronic files, hyperlinks to your work, multimedia pieces, blogs, images, or other mediums.
In the professional world, a digital portfolio is considered an essential piece of supplementary information. When you submit it with your resume, the viewer can easily click on the link and access a plethora of visual information that tells them more about your skills than the resume could have provided. Having one sets you ahead of the pack of other candidates and boosts your shot of being selected for an interview if it’s put together well.
Most digital portfolios showcase the best work that you did during your education or in your last job. You’re showing the potential hiring manager what you can do before you set foot in the door for an interview. It saves you and their time if you aren’t going to be the right fit for what they’re looking for, and it gives you a chance to make a good impression before you meet anyone.
Industries, where digital portfolios are commonly used, include writing, photography, any type of artistry, marketing, architecture, engineering, modeling, and academics.
Five Strong Portfolio Suggestions
When it’s time to compile your portfolio and you’ve decided on the format or platform you want to use to put it all together, keep these tips in mind:
- Only use your best, relevant work. Of course, you want to show off everything you can do. But chances are, the viewer is only going to look at a few of the first visuals. Make these your strongest examples of what you’re capable of doing that is relevant to the field you’re applying for. No more than ten samples is the general rule of thumb. Use samples that show off your strengths and experience, as well as technical skills. Keep them limited to things you’ve done within the past five years and refresh your portfolio as you have a new experience.
- Use captions to explain each sample. While a picture really is worth a thousand words, don’t expect the viewer to assume what you did in each sample. Add a small, to-the-point caption that includes who you did the work for, what the goal of the project was, and what you were supposed to do.
- Show your impact through metrics where possible. In your captions or on a separate link to your professional social media platforms, like Impactio, show the viewer your work’s impact by using quantitative metrics if possible. If you wrote a paper that was cited by others, or your work helped make a difference in society, this is all factual evidence shown through citation metrics. Numbers speak loudly and tell a story you can’t make up, and when you use Impactio as your academic platform, it enhances your e-portfolio substantially.
- Make it easy for the user to see your work. If the person has to click through a lot of pages or scroll around, they’re going to close out of the portfolio fast. Use white space to make each section look clean and uncluttered. Keep it simple and easy to maneuver through.
- Go through the portfolio yourself on different devices. This way, you can see what the loading time is for each page, check for mistakes in your text, and make changes as necessary if you have trouble navigating through the portfolio.
With these five tips in mind, you can put together a high-quality digital portfolio that will make a positive impact on the viewer as a solid, professional first impression.