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Building a Great Portfolio, an Interview Game Changer

Increase your chances of being hired with an online portfolio that does more showing than telling

Building a Great Portfolio, an Interview Game Changer

The old writing rule rings especially true here: show, don’t tell. Your resume claims you do amazing work while your online portfolio shows that you can back it up. In a sense, your portfolio is the proof.

"Every hiring manager has been burned at least once,” Rick Nelles, president of Career Directions, told Monster in a Career Advice article. Nelles was referring to the difference between looking good on paper and actually proving it in a portfolio. 

A professional, clean, personalized, and most importantly, accurate portfolio should be part of every candidate’s overall package in today's digital world. According to Workfolio, 56 percent of hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate's personal website more than any other tool, yet only five percent of job seekers actually have one. 

Let’s get started.

It’s inexpensive to create a professional portfolio and it will look amazing.

Build it cheaply, easily and professionally with great looking website platforms like Squarespace, WordPress or Wix. Premium plans are less than $10 a month and include a custom domain — often — among other great features like 24/7 support and an adless interface. Further, no coding expertise is necessary (though there are many options for customization, such as themed templates to fit which field you’re in).

These sites will allow your portfolio to be a one-stop shop for all of your best, whether it’s photos, writing samples, designs or other work.

The top five key elements that increase your chances of getting hired are, in order, professional image, good personality, wide range of interests, accurate background information and high creativity, according to a survey. Make sure to reflect these in person in your interview and via your online portfolio. 

Don’t treat your portfolio like the dentist.

If you’re frequently producing new work, six months is too long for a portfolio checkup. Keep it up to date. You’re wasting time and money if you build a great portfolio that you never maintain. A neglected website may also suggest to potential employers that you’re no good at upkeep or perhaps worse, that you haven’t produced anything worth posting in a while.

Here’s how to make it simple to remember: Every time you complete new work, put it in your portfolio (it only takes a minute). But don’t just think about your portfolio; think about the whole picture. Do you have social media sites you update? Let people know on those. Is there anyone specific you should message about your freshly finished work?

I suggest creating a standard operating procedure for when you finish work — a checklist of where to post your work and who to contact. That way you’ll never forget a step and everyone will be viewing your latest and greatest.

In a word: connect.

Since your portfolio is online, you should connect it to your active social media pages, which will not only up your chances of being discovered but also will give a prospective employer a broader picture of who you are. They shouldn’t be the centerpiece, obviously, but linking social media pages in your footer or sidebar is a good idea. If you send a lot of emails, you may also want to include a path to your portfolio in your email signature — a simple link to your website under your name.

What if I’m in a noncreative field? Should I bother making a portfolio?

You may think that if you’re not in a creative field you don’t need a portfolio. You may want to think again.

It’s all about visibility, no matter what your product is. Angela Hills, Cielo Executive Vice President and Managing Director of North America, told The New York Times, “Having a consistent, online record of your accomplishments will make you visible on the web and stand out to recruiters… People with very specific technical skills, like engineers and programmers, can show examples of websites they’ve built or projects that used a particular programming language. Don’t just tell me you have this knowledge; show me how you used it.”

Whether you are a web developer, designer, writer or another creative type, building and maintaining a professional portfolio can be the difference between getting hired and not. 

Monster Wants to Know: What are tips you'd share with job seekers about creating an online portfolio? Has an online portfolio helped your interview? Share with us in the comment section.

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