A Digital Professional Portfolio: The Secret to Cultivating Your Personal Brand
By Julie Perrine, Founder & CEO, All Things Admin
As an administrative professional, it’s important for you to be able to demonstrate your skills and achievements in order to excel in your job and advance your career. And one of the best ways to do that is with a digital professional portfolio of your work and experience. However, there’s another extremely important reason to develop and maintain a digital portfolio: your personal brand.
Every admin has a personal brand. It’s the overall image you convey to others through your attitude, appearance, communication skills, organization abilities and more. And while you may not be Google or Coca-Cola, your individual skills and talents represent a “product” that you offer to your employer. So it’s important that you build and cultivate your personal brand and a professional portfolio allows you to do just that.
What is a digital professional portfolio?
A digital professional portfolio is an online or electronic collection of your work samples, resume, proof of education and/or certifications, documentation of your skills, letters of recommendation, and more. These materials demonstrate your professional experience and skills in a dynamic, online format. Your portfolio is a professional “snapshot” that shows actual work you have completed and provides proof of your on-the-job performance, abilities, skills, awards, and accomplishments. It’s also a fantastic tool for job-hunting, annual reviews, and keeping track of your professional development and accomplishments throughout your career.
How does a digital professional portfolio help my personal brand?
Whether you’re gainfully employed or job seeking, creating an online portfolio can enhance your personal brand. It provides the ammunition you need to demonstrate your career accomplishments, goals, and professional skills and abilities. It’s your “secret” weapon in being your own professional advocate, and a must-have for any admin who is serious about his or her career!
A digital portfolio gives a potential employer the ability to “meet you” digitally before they meet you in person. It also provides an innovative point of distinction between your resume and the stack he or she has on their desk.
For those admins headed toward independent virtual assistance or freelancing, a digital portfolio is a readymade website that demonstrates your professional credibility and promotes the admin’s services.
Even admins who are well established in their careers need to showcase their personal brand during annual reviews and when asking for a promotion or raise. A digital portfolio allows you to do it quickly and easily. Creating yours can also help you improve your basic web skills, which is helpful in and outside of our profession.
How do I create a digital professional portfolio?
Anyone with basic computer skills can create a digital portfolio. It doesn’t require a fancy tech degree, coding knowledge, or advanced website expertise. In fact, you can get your portfolio started with four simple steps.
1. Sign up for a free WordPress account. Make sure you use WordPress.com, since WordPress.org is geared more toward WordPress developers.
2. Follow the prompts. WordPress makes it quick and easy to set up your site. You’ll be asked for basic information, such as contact details, site name, etc. The Appearances section can help you change the look and feel of your site, making it uniquely you. Once you’re finished, take some time to go through all of the sections under the Settings tab to make sure everything is set up just the way you want it.
3. Create your website pages and begin uploading the relevant content. (More on this in the next section.)
4. Test each and every link, download, and page to make sure they work! This step is incredibly important. Your professional credibility depends on it. A broken link or an incorrect URL can derail all of your hard work with a single click!
WordPress is one of the best platforms for setting up your digital portfolio. It’s user friendly and includes step-by-step instructions, tutorials, and help forums on everything from the bare-bones basics to the most advanced features. There are also plenty of apps, developers, and firms available for people who need a bit of help putting some pep into their portfolio.
However, while WordPress is the simplest option, it isn’t the only one. LinkedIn, for instance, offers an (admittedly basic) option for showcasing your resume, skill set, endorsements, and recommendations. Although it may not be the best place to develop your primary digital portfolio, there is certainly no harm in using LinkedIn as an additional tool!
What do I include in my digital portfolio?
There’s no right or wrong recipe for the perfect online portfolio, but the most dynamic ones usually include a variety of text, photos, graphics, downloadable files, and video/audio components that lend credibility to your career accomplishments.
Once your site is setup, consider populating it with the following pages and content:
- Home – This page should include your name, a professional-looking headshot or photograph, and a short welcome message.
- About Me – This is the place to introduce yourself and create a positive first impression. Describe your career goals, add your personal mission statement, and give visitors a sense of your personal brand. Use personality profile reports to create this career summary page.
- Resume – Once your reader is hooked, give them a chance to learn more about your work history, professional certifications, and achievements by including a web-appropriate version of your resume!
- Work Samples – You may want to include screenshots or PDFs of forms, templates, or documents you’ve created, photos or videos of events you’ve organized, procedures you’ve written, newsletters you’ve created, etc.
- Contact Information – Tell people how they should get in touch with you – whether it’s via email, an online contact form, or phone.
- Blog and/or Social Media Links – Leave your reader with more ways to learn about who you are and what you do. A blog can show off your writing and researching skills, as well as your knowledge of your industry; a (professional!) social media presence proves that you care enough about your career to take time to advance it outside of your eight to five job.
Once you have your basic portfolio sections mapped out, you can create pages that highlight your skills. For example, if you have experience in travel planning, event planning, and professional editing, you can make a separate page for each, complete with related work samples.
Other areas of expertise you may want to consider including are:
- Project management
- Administrative support
- Presentation development
- Newsletters or writing
This is not an exhaustive list, and there is no magic number of things to include. Your digital portfolio should reflect your unique experiences and skill set, with dynamic content to back it up!
Is there anything I shouldn’t include?
When you post your professional portfolio online, keep in mind that the general public may be able to view the contents. Be careful about what you’re sharing in this public forum, and keep in mind that once you put something on the Internet, you can never completely remove it. Here are some guidelines on what to leave out of your digital portfolio:
- Address and phone numbers. This includes your home address, home phone number, and cell phone number. If you want to include a phone number that doesn’t reveal your current home or cell number, set up a free Google Voice number.
- Email address. It’s a good idea to set up an email address to use specifically for your digital portfolio. Alternatively, you can use a “contact me” web form page on your site instead.
- Education dates. The years you attended school can reveal your age. If you prefer not to divulge this information, remove the specific dates. Also, you only need to list the highest degree you have attained.
- Complete resume. Never post your full resume online! Instead, include a modified version that shares only what you want to share. Make sure you have eliminated all personal details, and never list specific company names – only the industries.
Sharing Your Site with the World
Now that your digital portfolio is ready, it’s time to tell the world about it!
Start by adding the link to your portfolio to all of your social media networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. There’s nothing wrong with adding it to some posts or Tweets, either – just don’t go overboard with the self-promotion! Also, remember to update your professional association profiles so they include the link.
WordPress makes it easy to share sections of your digital portfolio straight from the page, so take advantage of that feature, too.
Next, update your resume to include the link to your portfolio. It will definitely help you stand out in the crowd!
Finally, add the link to your email signature and business cards so that you can share it quickly and easily!
To view some digital portfolios, check out these sites:
A digital portfolio is more than just a gimmick to help you score a job, promotion, or raise. At heart, it’s the magnum opus of your career – a virtual screenshot of your effort, hard work and accomplishments over the years. It draws attention to your professional accomplishments, allows you to share your knowledge with others, helps to expand your professional network, and builds trust. It can also begin to appear in search results, allowing you access to opportunities you never would have had without it!
If you are serious about and dedicated to showcasing your personal brand and your career, a digital professional portfolio isn’t an option – it’s a necessity. Put the spotlight on you and your career and get noticed today with your own online portfolio!
Creating a portfolio isn’t necessarily difficult, but it does take some concentrated effort. If you need a bit of professional help, All Things Admin has several affordable options that can help you tackle the project. Click here to learn more.
EUMA becomes IMA
on 1 February 2017
11 days 14 hours 44 min. 18 sec.