We live in a world where people value reviews and testimonials - we use this information when considering purchases, choosing a restaurant, and now even in employment. This is one reason why it is becoming more important to demonstrate your work. Portfolios, web pages and social media all tell the story of "You as a Professional." In a competitive situation, providing solid evidence of your work in a visual way saves time and creates impact.

Online Branding

Employers like to see your work, learn your processes, and know how you will add value to their organizations. Consciously building online branding is a good way to do just that. Even if you aren’t looking for a job or applying to graduate school right now, having an online brand can be an easy way to keep track of your work, accomplishments, and development of the product known as “You”.  And if you are trying to freelance, a positive online presence will be essential.

What is an online brand?

A method used to create relationships with potential consumers and employers and build awareness of your “brand”---your online presence, professional image, and perspective.  This branding uses online channels such as search engines, social media, online press releases, marketplaces, and websites.

There are many ways to create a polished image that keeps you informed and well-connected while demonstrating your expertise. For basic tips on having an “employer ready” online presence, check out the section “Other Things to Consider with Social Media”  on our social networking page and then use the ideas and resources below to strengthen your online brand.

Online Portfolio

What is an online portfolio?

An online portfolio is a method to display your work and can be personalized to target your audience and industry. This tool is frequently used in film/video, design, journalism, or other positions that require examples of your work. Often, online portfolios are a blog, a or a product-sharing site in order to organize your work for an employer to understand and skim quickly.

What does a portfolio typically include?

Your resume, digital images of your graphic design, GIS, or artwork, writing samples, and/or video and audio files. Depending on the field, it could include grant proposals, policy analysis, lesson plans…pretty much anything you want an employer to view. Just remember, a portfolio is a curated body of work—only include the best works that are most relevant to the opportunity. 

What else might be in a portfolio?

Newspaper clippings about your work or an award, recommendations, or testimonials can be included but are ‘extras’. Whenever possible, draw attention to the results and impact of your work. For an online branding opportunity, create an “About Me” page in your portfolio.

Can you have a hard copy portfolio?

Yes! You can include similar documents as above, but also include personal information about what and where you studied, your contact information, and a contents list of the relevant work that you included.  Hard copy portfolios are especially useful for candidates that have a physically evident disability; the candidate can immediately counter bias in an interview by showing the employer proof of their ability to do the job via hard copy documents or using their laptop to demo their online portfolio.

LinkedIn Media Uploads & SlideShare

What can you include in the media upload of the Experience Section of your LinkedIn Profile?

Media uploads can range from a professional proposal from student government or an analysis report from class to a teaser of your photography or press release portfolio.  You could even showcase your public speaking skills via a video or display your files from your senior graphic design thesis and link to your website. Media uploads in the experience section provide a highlight for a single experience in one entry.

How else can you show your skills?

Have other experts vouch for you on the Recommendations section of your LinkedIn page. Supervisors at your internship, co-leaders of large projects in student organizations, advisors, professors, and colleagues can publicly recognize your skills from their specific experience with you via the recommendations function.

How can you establish yourself as a thought leader?

Try LinkedIn Slideshare. By posting your best content, which demonstrates your expertise, you can share knowledge with the millions of other professionals on the site and drive traffic to other places such as an industry specific personal website, blog, or portfolio. Use LinkedIn Slideshare to provide a deeper dive via professional presentations and videos or to give short snapshots via infographics and documents.

Writing Samples

What are writing samples?

Employers will request writing samples in fields that heavily use written communication (such as law, journalism, public relations, lobbying, research) and are in need of wordsmiths (authors, editors, technical writers, and publishers). In addition, some graduate programs, especially MFAs, will ask for samples.  Samples can include press releases, articles, briefs, policy analysis, grants, cases, research, or non-fiction/fiction/poetry. 

What is a good sample?

To make the best use of your sample(s), follow the employer’s, graduate school’s, or client’s directions for formatting, then pick pieces that show your ability to do the job or succeed in the program.  Make sure they are your best writing, and only pick pieces that are yours--a sample that you wrote but someone else edited extensively does not reflect your abilities.  

Include an introduction about the piece you choose.  For example, “This sample is the Introduction, Needs Assessment, and Goals section of a grant proposal that I wrote during my internship at the Career Center.  The grant was successful and the organization was award $50,000 for experiential education.” 

How long is a sample?

Typically, samples for employers will be between 2-5 pages unless they ask for more.