by Veda Darby Soberman, Head Editor, INALJ Hawaii
So, you’ve entered the job hunt armed with a basic arsenal of a well-crafted cover letter, polished resume and stellar references. Don’t think you are fully prepared yet. One more weapon which is making its way from auxiliary to essential is the e-Portfolio.
An e-Portfolio is a web-based showcase of your work. As with the hardcopy portfolios of artists and architects, it is an example of what you have done, your skills and what best reflects who you are as a professional. A marked difference between the traditional portfolio and the e-Portfolio is the flexibility offered by an electronic format. This flexibility comes from being able to bring together a variety of types of information into an easily disseminated digital format. As information professionals, our work and skill sets are often beyond the scope of what can be conveyed through a dry textual listing on a resume. Describing one’s skill with online presentation software has far less impact than viewing the actual presentation. E-Portfolios allow for showing as well as telling. Combining technical savvy, organization, creativity, and communication skills in its creation makes the e-Portfolio itself an example of your skills and expertise as an information professional.
E-Portfolios are learning tools and living documents. E-Portfolios are not just a job hunting tools to define your web presence, or to brand yourself, but they can also allow you to develop yourself professionally. Your e-Portfolio is a place where you can self-reflect by examining your body of work in one place. You can consider your accomplishments, where you may be lacking, and what you can do to improve. Furthermore, the creation and maintenance of an e-Portfolio is an opportunity for you to maintain and learn technological skills. This is especially important if you have yet to land your library job, and may not be able to regularly practice your tech skills. Like an artist, you want to always keep building your portfolio. As your professional interests and experiences change, so should your e-Portfolio.
Starting an e-Portfolio need not be difficult. The constructing of an e-Portfolio is now a common requirement for MLIS coursework. I myself produced a handcoded e-Portfolio during my studies. I am in the process of creating an updated e-Portfolio. I’ll be using WordPress this time around (the same website management tool used to bring you INALJ), but I will still provide a link to my original handcoded site. You should of course use whatever software and techniques you are comfortable with to build your e-Portfolio.
In planning your e-Portfolio, I suggest viewing those of professionals in a variety of fields to help inspire you, and to see what works and doesn’t work. Here is what I have included in my original e-Portfolio (visit it here) which is quite basic, but easily built upon. This is of course, just one way of organizing your e-Portfolio. Do what works for you, and remember it is a living document:
1. Home – This is where you explain what your portfolio is and its purpose. You could include your professional philosophy, or a favorite quote.
2. About – Include a brief paragraph about your personal and professional background and interests. One important tip to keep in mind is that while e-Portfolios allow for an infinite amount of information to be included, do not flood your e-Portfolio pages with large blocks of text. Include photos, bullet points, graphics, or maybe even a video. Take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of the electronic format of your portfolio. Keep your entire portfolio fun and interactive.
3. Resume – This is where you include some of your resume highlights. You could also provide a link to a full-text pdf version as well.
4. Artifacts – Here is where the meat of your e-Portfolio will be. Samples of professional and coursework can be included. Definitely include links to your projects. You may also want to include course descriptions from your program of study.
5. Associations – If you are a member of any professional organizations, provide links to their websites.
6. Contact – This is where you should include any contact information or links to social media profiles.
Building your e-Portfolio can be an invigorating experience as you consider your past achievements and try to put your best foot forward. If you want more information on building an e-Portfolio, this is a great presentation http://prezi.com/1jfd8kpvtrsk/e-Portfolios-for-information-professionals/. Also, look forward to future articles documenting my progress in updating my own e-Portfolio.