Let's face it. Whether you work a regular job or are seeking clients, the process isn't what it used to be. Now, this isn't a bad thing because creating a portfolio is the best way to show off your best assets. Being able to show what you can do is a heck of a lot better than just saying it during the screening process.
Even if you have friends in the position to give a personalized recommendation, that's not enough in some cases. Even for entry-level jobs, you can use elements of a portfolio to sell your skills. If you're a waitress at a casual dining restaurant, you can easily write an article or social media post about tipping etiquette. The same may apply to a security guard, who may have tips for being safe when people go out at night.
Overall, it's about creating unique yet relevant content for prospective employers or clients to see. There are also career badges that you can earn through Coursera and other online educational platforms. Some colleges offer digital badges in place of paper certificates.
If there's a way to prove this, it may be in badge form.
The Wonderful World of Digital Career Badges
In case you didn't know, digital badges are slowly taking the place of non-professional degrees. While badges can enhance a portfolio or resume, they can't replace an undergraduate degree most of the time. However, there are some instances where having a training badge from CompTIA, Microsoft, or another IT entity can be advantageous.
Also, some colleges are issuing these instead of the traditional paper certificate for non-credit classes. This method saves time, as you can copy and paste the code or image onto your resume and/or online profile. LinkedIn and other online social networks usually have a section designed for this. Another alternative would be to open a Credly account.
Creating Content that Matters
As bloggers, content contributors, and digital marketers often create content for themselves as well as clients, there's still room for a unique voice. Finding that voice, along with a reasonable posting schedule, takes time but is certain to pay off when you're consistent. Oftentimes, just speaking like you would to a friend goes over better than trying to keep up with SEO practices.
In fact, a lot of successful bloggers tend to ignore the rigid keyword placement rules that some people like to follow. If you were to create a social media post with 500 words and say, four popular keyword phrases, it probably wouldn't sound authentic to your audience. The best advice coming from someone who's been at this for more than a decade is to keep your content straight to the point.
Choosing What Goes in Your Portfolio
If you're not much of a writer, there are some ways to create content that will impress future clients or employers. As long as it relates to positions in the industry, this will enhance what's on your resume. The only challenge some people have is keeping this separate from their personal social media accounts. Here's a list of items to include with an online portfolio -
1. Accomplishments you've made related to your industry. If these were made during the pre-digital badge era, you can still scan these as a PDF or jpeg and place them on a webpage. Most free blogging platforms have a drag-and-drop feature that allows you to customize pages with no coding.
2. Capstone projects created during or after you received a certification. A lot of career educational programs include this in their curriculum and others do not. What some may do is include small projects that simulate real-life scenarios or are customized. If you're already in business, you can offer a service as a freebie to a client or company in exchange for detailed feedback.
3. Explainer videos that detail how you solved a common (or possibly uncommon) problem. This can be tricky but many recent video editing/animation apps are very beginner-friendly. However, if you're speaking of a situation involving your current employer, you may want to use discretion when it comes to naming names.
4. Connections that only apply to professional social media accounts. According to online marketing basics, proof that you're staying in the know of what's happening in your industry is enough to impress others. Participating in discussions is good, as long as your feedback offers something of value to the conversation.
5. Visuals that explain a process. This can be in the form of a chart, infographic, or slide presentation. While there are no hard rules when it comes to length, my advice would be to look at it as an elevator pitch. If you can't create something that would take 30 seconds for the average person to figure out, then you may want to create a web page with links that help describe how something was accomplished.
This is not a comprehensive list, as you may come across some other assets that demonstrate what you've achieved in your career. If you want some more ideas, sites like Behance are great for sharing visuals. While some people just start with their own blog, here are some online portfolio hosting sites