By Eugene Matthews, Ph.D.
E-folios represent a continuum of work, which includes different elements, and experiences along that continuum. E-folios are not limited to art, education, or business, but are used in nearly every field or career. The job-based e-folio differs from the standard portfolio in that the focus is on collecting information, developing artifacts and digitally managing the folio.
Where the portfolio stops at information gathering as to the prospective job seeker’s abilities and past successes, the e-folio continues through continuous information management and sharing. With the e-folio the job seeker has the flexibility to share their information nearly instantaneously.
In general, the three phases for e-folio artifact development are:
The artifacts or evidence of prior performance must be assembled in a retrievable digital medium, scanned, photographed, or recorded. They must be date stamped to ensure relevance in terms of freshness, and be logically organized; whether by program title, topic, date, or type of activity.
For example, if Courtney provided a 1-day workshop to colleagues on the updates to the equipment purchasing process, the following information should be captured to create the artifact for the e-folio:
Type of Program: (i.e., Presentation, Training Workshop, or Discussion)
Title of event or training: Updated Equipment Purchasing Process Workshop
Date/Time/Location: July 21, 2014
Name of presenter(s): Courtney Wells
Any documentation, flyers, bulletins, posters, etc.,
For the job-based folio, the collection should also include pre-existing documentation including transcripts, awards, diplomas, certifications, proof of organizational memberships, etc. Furthermore, since it is nearly always required, an updated resume or vita should be on hand along with a list of personal and professional references.
The value in the information is not simply possession of the information, but is actually in the ability of the individual to organize it in such a manner that retrieving it can be accomplished easily.
One of the most challenging aspects of a job-based folio is determining what to use and what to store for later. In most cases, the level of freshness of the artifact may determine whether it is modified or recreated. For instance, if the last time the job seeker provided a presentation on something within their field was more than 4 years ago, then they should strongly consider modifying the artifact by updating an re-presenting the information.
The participants and attendees will appreciate the new or updated information, and the job seeker will be able to update their artifacts. Similarly, of the job seeker has never conducted a workshop or held a presentation on a topic that falls within their scope of responsibilities, they should create a program and share it.
The two common questions many ask with regard to writing and publishing have been “where and how.”
Often one of the issues individuals run into when creating programs is a lack of time to organize and advertise the program. A simple means for creating a valuable artifact that can be widely might be to create a short informational video training session, 5-15 minutes. A quality video training can be quickly produced using free, and simple tools readily available to the public. For additional information, check out author Richard Byrne’s list of
Excellent Tools for creating Videos Without Installing Software (http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2013/04/the-five-best-tools-for-creating-videos.html#.UweM2_ldXh4).
The video can be quickly distributed to colleagues and other interested individuals, and then added as an artifact. Similarly, published articles, books, informational white papers, etc., are an excellent source for artifacts and a relatively simple method for enhancing credibility.
A very common excuse as to why one is unable to write is the lack of time and equipment. With today’s technology, those excuses are less valid than ever before. For many the smartphone is a ubiquitous addition and is carried virtually everywhere, eliminating the lack of equipment, and the fact that several hours of every day are spend commuting or waiting for appointments, the lack of time issue is similarly overcome.
For some specific steps as to how one can leverage their smartphone to write, check out Write your Next Article, Blog Post, or EBook Using Your iPhone
There is a popular aphorism, which adequately describes persons looking for ways not to work:
“If it’s important, you can always find a way; if it’s not important you can always find an excuse.”
A significant determinant as to the success of a job-based e-folio is the current-ness of the information. Many job applications have been discarded without a thorough review simply because the job seeker used outdated information. Employers are seeking individuals who will bring freshness, enthusiasm, innovation, and new ideas with them. Job seekers using outdated terminology in their cover letters, or those with no new additions to their vita in 5-10 years are nearly always discounted as being stagnant, unwilling, or unable to change. This is not to suggest that the historical experiences and even artifacts can’t or should not be used, but rather to highlight the necessity for the job seeker to present current, relevant information to demonstrate their connectivity to their field.
The second aspect – manage – is perhaps the most overlooked and underappreciated concept of the job-based e-folio. Too often job seekers rely on traditional modes for managing and maintain their information; they rely solely on files and folders. Some only save their data on physical storage devices such as the 5 ¼ and 3.5 discs, or the occasional CD/DVD or USB drive. While the pros and cons of each device could be discussed at length, the reality is that there is a need to save the e-folio information in more than one location, and in more than one medium.
For a list of the top 8 free online backup/storage sites visit http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-online-backup-sites.htm.
The article concludes with the pros and cons some of the top storage devices. It is not the intent of this author to favor or decry any of the options presented, but rather to share with the job seeker that there are a myriad of mobile options available…for free.
The need for the mobile option for storage follows the principle of serendipity – the active job seeker may discover a unique job opportunity wherein if they had access to their resume, vita, references, or other artifacts, they could send them to a perspective employer immediately. As with social introductions and unplanned networking instances, when the job seeker has an actionable artifact, such as a business card with a quick response (QR) code, or a personalized and memorable website/web page to link to, they increase their opportunity to be remembered and possibly contacted.
Having an active, current, clear, and relevant e-folio is one-step toward securing meaningful employment at a time when competition for employment is as high as it has ever been. Job seekers with an online presence are more likely to see success than those without.
Dr. Eugene Matthews