Remember high school geometry class? Where you worked on proofs; diligently spelling out every step of your thought process so your teacher wouldn’t deduct any points. And you probably said, ‘There’s no way I’m ever going to use this in real life.’ Guess what? You are. Well, in a way. You see while potential employers could care less about the classes you aced, they do care about the skills you developed by taking your classes and how those skills can be applied in real life. Basically, they want you to show them your thought process (evidence), and how it will be useful to their company.
For years, a resume has been the main outlet for showing skills to employers. But even with a creative layout, it’s still just a boring piece of paper. There’s nothing dynamic or engaging about it. That’s why an ePortfolio is such an amazing tool. All your artifacts, which show digital evidence of progress, experience, achievements, and goals over time are in one convenient location for potential employers to see and find. Some of the in-demand skills that employers want to see are: attention to detail, critical thinking, communication, leadership/ownership, problem solving, teamwork, and writing proficiency. For example, the ePortfolio of a Psychology major could show:
- Hands-on collaborative research experience (e.g., with a professor and/or lab).
Skills used: Attention to detail, communication, critical thinking and teamwork
- Development of research questions, followed by conducting independent research (under faculty supervision).
Skills used: Attention to detail, critical thinking, and problem solving
- Completion of a project that demonstrates the knowledge and skills you have acquired (e.g., prepare proposal for a program).
Skills used: Attention to detail, communication, and writing
- Participation in an internship or community-based experience.
Skills used: Innovation and creativity, communication, leadership/ownership, and teamwork
Talking ‘in theory’ is all well and good, but we wanted to give you examples of people who went beyond describing what they could do—to showing employers—and in the process, landed the jobs.
When Mike Nolan was an intern at Mozilla, he built an in-browser video-editing tool. Since it was open-source, he shared it on GitHub, then posted the link on LinkedIn (which can be used in conjunction with Portfolium). That caught recruiter Eric Goldfarb’s attention, which helped Nolan land a web engineer position at Giphy. Niger Little-Poole a data scientist at Giphy had a similar experience. By digitally showing projects he’d worked on, employers could see he knew how to apply the programming languages he’d learned in his classes. As Little-Poole points out, “It’s a simple matter of giving employers something concrete to get interested about. People ask very specifically because they can see it… I really think it’s about having done something.”
Remember, while an ePortfolio goes a long way to show employers what you have to offer, it’s only as good as the person creating and maintaining it. Always be prepared to talk intelligently about your education and experiences and how they will add value to a company. You’re the product; just make sure you don’t sell yourself short.
Share in the comments ways you’ve used an ePortfolio to show your skills and the progression of what you’ve learned.
Photo Courtesy of: reynermedia