Dear Matt: What do you think about putting together a career portfolio, even if you aren't in a creative field? I've even heard of accountants having them. Is this the future? How do I create one and where could I learn more about this?
Matt: The biggest issue I hear about electronic portfolios from recruiters is that if not done professionally, it does more harm than good. That's where eFolio Minnesota (www.efoliomn.com), a Web-based career portfolio available to all Minnesota residents free of charge, comes into play.
While a standard résumé may still do the trick, I recommend everyone looking for an advantage in the job search create an electronic portfolio through eFolio - no matter what your profession. This service, offered through the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, helps individuals create a multi-media portfolio to convey their knowledge, skills and abilities which can include audio, video, documents and images.
You can also:
Create a message/portfolio that can be custom-tailored to specific employers and industries.
Turn certain sections on/off to customize for each job.
Promote your portfolio through search engines such as Google.
Create a personalized URL, which can act as a way to direct employers to what is basically your own personal career website and online résumé.
I started building my portfolio on eFolio. It only takes a few minutes to register and features step-by-step instructions on how to complete the portfolio. It's user friendly and you don't have to be a techie to build your portfolio.
The tough sell now comes to try and convince employers to view your portfolio, says Tony Nelson, president of TBN Consulting (www.tbnconsulting.biz) LLC, a Minneapolis search firm for professionals within the marketing profession. Nelson cautions that if the electronic portfolio is sent with a résumé employers may only view the résumé because they don't have time to take the extra step of viewing an electronic portfolio. And if the electronic portfolio is sent in place of a résumé the employer needs to take another step to review the person's background, which can be viewed as an annoyance.
That's why I recommend creating both a portfolio and a résumé and using both to see the results you get. "I personally believe electronic portfolios can be an effective tool if done professionally and appropriately," says Nelson.
Through eFolio Minnesota, you can do just that.
Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.