Online Portfolios…Don’t Be Left Dazed and Confused

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

Creating an online portfolio can be daunting. Traditionally photographers, designers, film/video editors, and other creative types have used portfolios, but I think everyone should have some kind of online portfolio.  Now don’t freak out – ha! Your industry and career goals determine the kind of portfolio you will have and the tools you will use, which leads me to an important point: Not all online portfolios should be the same.

Some answers and ideas to some common portfolio questions:

Do I need a portfolio?

The short answer is…Yes! Whether you are a recruiter, career adviser, event planner, PR specialist, or biomedical engineer, you should consider an online portfolio or some kind of online presence reflecting your work. After all, isn’t an “online presence” a kind of professional portfolio anyway? There are a bazillion different platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Behance, Instagram, Weebly) to choose from, so you must think strategically (Who is your audience, and what do they need/want?) as to which type is best for you. Portfolios are a no-brainer for some industries and they’re a professional standard. For example, a graphic designer needs a platform that will allow them to show their work in a very dynamic and visual way, while also allowing them to share their work with others. Therefore, Behance or Carbonmade, platforms specifically for visual arts and networking, are a couple of strong platforms worth consideration.  But what about non-artsy-fartsy careers…like, say…a career adviser?

As a career adviser, I have an online portfolio/presence, and yes, there are some visual and artistic pieces, but when determining what platforms to use, I had to consider my audience (students, peer career advisers, employers) and their needs/wants (tools for learning, inspiration for the job/intern search, paths of communication for sharing talent and opportunities). LinkedIn, for me, is a must, as it allows me to share my experience chronologically and visually. My LinkedIn profile is, by all intents and purposes, a virtual resume, but I’m also able to share writing, presentations, and design. I see many of my students and clients not maximizing LinkedIn by adding examples of their work, and I feel like they are selling themselves short. My social media platforms are added to my LinkedIn profile, but in addition, I use About.me as a fun and creative hub for sharing all of my social media. You may be thinking… “Are social media skills portfolio worthy?”…YES! Social media skills (e.g. strategy, writing, curating content) are highly valuable, and should absolutely be a part of your portfolio.

What should I put in my portfolio?

As I mentioned before, think strategically. Who is your audience, and what do they need/want? Portfolios should contain your best work—not all of your work—and be sorted by skill. Spend some time thinking about and writing down all that you do professionally, and then sort by skill and the level of importance to your audience; or try re-organizing your resume by skill. These two exercises will not only clarify the more obvious skills you use, but will also bring to light other skills that you may not have considered before. Even a photographer can breakdown his skills so they are more apparent to his audience. Photography is more than “point and click”—different styles require different skills. The portfolio of a photographer could be sorted into many skills/styles including: journalistic, portraits, landscapes, fashion, and black and white.

Writing, career development programming, poster/flyer design, social media, and presentations are the skills I reflect in my portfolio/online presence. I use LinkedIn to share my presentations and design; WordPress for my writing; Twitter and LinkedIn for content curation; and I bring it all together in one package on my About.me profile.

One tip for reflecting programming or events in portfolios is to have a picture of the event/program and discuss it using a variation of the good old STAR method—challenge, action, result.

Always make sure that you or your student get employer consent prior to posting anything from a past internship or job.

What are some resources for creating an online portfolio?

Don’t recreate the wheel by trying to build your own website from scratch (unless you are a web developer). We want viewers to see your skills and work, and not get sidetracked by a poorly designed and constructed site. There are many free and intuitive resources out there to choose from. Weebly and Wix are good drop and drag resources with templates for creating websites. Carbonmade and Behance are great for design/branding/photography/fashion portfolios. And of course as a recruiter, career adviser, or financial analyst, LinkedIn may be all that you need.

How do I share my portfolio?

There are some basic and more advanced ways of sharing your portfolio and professional work. A couple of basic ways are adding your portfolio link to your email signature, business card, resume header, and LinkedIn profile. More advanced methods include engaging with other professionals through social media. For example, writing a blog post and tweeting it or posting photography on Instagram with strategic tags to draw a greater audience. I’ve had students create portfolios and ask for feedback from professionals through LinkedIn groups or Behance.

A few other thoughts.

Academic portfolios are different than professional portfolios. I understand some universities have, or are in the process of considering, creating a required academic portfolio piece for students. The purpose of this requirement is to assess students’ learning over the course of their college careers. These academic portfolios may include reflections on experiences (e.g. study abroad, service), graded writing from first year through senior year, general professor feedback on assignments, and more. As I mentioned earlier, a professional portfolio reflects your best work (meeting the needs and standards of an industry/employer) while the purpose of an academic portfolio is to show growth of skill and learning within an academic context.

Could academic portfolios be repurposed into professional portfolios? I don’t see why not—in fact I love the idea! I think it would be a wonderful learning experience for students, as they would directly see how their academic and developmental experiences translate to professional skills—connecting college to career. This could also be a great partnership between employers and career services offices and career advisers and faculty.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Employers (from all industries) – what do you think about portfolios? What would you like to see in them?

NACE members can pick up a student-directed article on online portfolios by Ross Wade from the Grab & Go section of NACEWeb.

What I Did This Summer: A NACE14 Check-In

Vanessa Newton

Vanessa Newton, Program Analyst, University of Kansas
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vlnewt
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/vanessaliobanewton
Blog: www.wellnessblogging.com

 

It’s been two months since we convened in sunny (and randomlyVN Instagram Shot rainy) San Antonio and it’s time to do a quick check-in on your progress.  If you are anything like me, you left San Antonio feeling inspired and ready to implement some of the amazing ideas you learned at NACE14 (*cough, creating dashboards, thanks a lot Joe, Carrie, and Jenny, cough*).

I got back to Kansas and started YouTube-ing progress Gantt charts. I took an event that I run, the part-time job fair, and plugged some data in to see what I could create. After a few stressful moments and referring back to my favorite Irish YouTube Excel expert (SubjectMoney also makes a very useful tutorial), I developed a dashboard that looked a little bit like this…

VN Dashboard Screen ShotIf you look at the screen shot (at left—click to enlarge) at the different sheets in the workbook I created, you’ll find the checklist and the progress Gantt chart.

I wanted the overview sheet to be, well, just that, an overview. I didn’t want it to be too clogged up with all the little details that need to be taken care of.

The checklist spreadsheet is just that—all the little things that need be done. Here’s a glimpse of what that looks like…

VN Checklist Screen Shot

The Gantt chart spreadsheet is the spreadsheet, broken down into more direct action items (for example instead of “send a final registration e-mail, if needed, to employers” it is “send final invitation”). This way my Gantt chart doesn’t look ridiculous with a huge long phrase in the chart. Trust me on this—I did that initially. The YouTube tutorials (linked above) take you step-by-step on how to set up a Gantt chart and I recommend referring to them when setting up your chart.

Once I got the hang of how to get the dashboard set up, I started implementing dashboards into other events. And then, I got an idea to work on creating a website and writing the code so that my dashboards are available any place and any time, not just when I am at my desk. (See what you did Joe, Carrie, and Jenny? You created a data monster!) I’m still working on the logistics of writing the code and it will take much longer than just setting up the dashboards did, but hey, we are only two months out! If you aren’t as much of tech/code nerd like I am, you could always upload your Excel docs to a One Drive or G-Drive.

Erin Chamlee and Desalina Allen from NYU also did an excellent presentation on assessment timelines. Key points are up on my white board as reminders to myself. Reminders such as “what gets measured gets done” and “how can we streamline our assessments?”

Two months out—what have you implemented from NACE14? Any strategies or initiatives that you are working on? Perhaps creating progress Gantt charts of your own for your office? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Am I Mashed Up or Just Fried? A Journey Into Social Recruiting With Puppies (Part VI):

Chris Carlson

Christopher Carlson, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition, Booz Allen Hamilton
Twitter: @cciCarlson
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ccicrc
Blogs from Christopher Carlson

About two weeks ago, I had the chance to attend a social media/recruiting conference in New York City. It was a really great opportunity to learn about best practices in social recruiting from some real industry leaders. While in New York, I had the chance to visit the MoMA as well. If you have never been, it is really a wonderful museum full of amazing art. It got me thinking about something I wrote on my last blog, a quote from Tammy Garmey from TMP “Content is King but Context Rules.”

Our digital content is very much like art in many ways, in that the context in which we see the art can influence our interpretations. We have the chance to present our ideas and messages in so many different ways to reach a wide variety of audiences and tastes. It is always the context in which we view the art that dictates our appreciation.

Walking through the museum looking at amazing pieces by some of my favorite artists, I also noted that many people were using headsets to learn about the pieces and the artists—common in most museums. Some individuals were led by docents on official tours. Still others were outside listening to a live concert that MoMA had in their courtyard—experience art through music. Not only did MoMA expose people to the art works, they provided multiple ways to reach their audience. At this point, you may be saying, “so what is your point Chris?” Good question…

Let’s fast forward to a call with some 20+ representatives from a variety of companies and from the Jobs Accommodations Network (JANworks.org). On this call, we talked about how to make our recruiting content accessible to everyone including individuals with disabilities or differing abilities. We tried to focus the effort on organically created content developed by our employees. Most of the companies represented were already leaders in hiring individuals with disabilities, and we wanted to further enhance our outreach via social media.

A few key points resulting from the call included:

  • Use multiple channels to share your message: Not every social media tool has built-in accessibility and it is important that you don’t use just one to reach your audience. Just like the MoMA, consider options for your audience.
  • Make content accessible at the point of creation: Look for ways to cascade information about how to make content accessible to your employees so that as they create content it will be accessible. By doing so, it will better convey the real meaning and not lose perspective after someone else tries to make it accessible.
  • Include positive images of individuals with disabilities in your content: One thought is to partner with relevant ERGs or to work closely with your marketing team to make sure you have those positive images so that individuals will be drawn to you.
  • Make it routine: When building PowerPoint presentations or videos, always use built-in accessibility tools whether you need to do so or not. Having people make this part of their everyday will ensure that more content is accessible and easier to create.

For me, the discussion around content and making it accessible reminded me of one of the pieces in the MoMA. The piece was entitled “Still Life With Three Puppies.” Our messaging is like that painting. You can paint still life but it becomes so much more enriching and engaging when we include puppies. Find ways to incorporate varieties of media into your messaging such as captions into your videos or word descriptions of your photos. By doing so, more people will be drawn to your message just like we are drawn to the puppies.

There were definitely some other insights into specific tools that you can use and I will be happy to share those with you if you reach me. You can also reach to JAN at www.askjan.org. They are a great resource.

Challenging the Omniscient Career Adviser Role

Janet R. LongJanet R. Long
Founder, Integrity Search Inc.
Career Counselor, Widener University
Blog: http://inyourownvoice.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/janetrlong/
Twitter: @IntegritySearch
Blogs from Janet Long.
Sometimes life runs in parallels. As I approach month six of in-house career counseling after 20 years as a business owner and executive recruiter, I’m learning that my students are not the only ones navigating new terrain. It is helpful to hold that perspective—and sometimes to share it outright—when encouraging them to push beyond their comfort zone. This makes me less of the all-knowing adviser and more of a human being who can speak to and perhaps model getting to the other side of major life transitions.

As an executive recruiter, even starting out, I often found an automatic presumption of authority and expertise—role power, as a friend and colleague would call it. Role power allowed job candidates to disclose salary and other intimate life and career details to a virtual stranger within minutes. It also positioned me as a trusted confidante and adviser to hiring organizations, and along with that, the one expected to know.

Much earlier, growing up as the daughter of psychologists, I recall that when asking my mother what I should do in a challenging situation, she would often reply, “What do you think you should do?” While this was maddening in the moment, it prepared me to weigh choices from an early age. Her approach sent the message that I was a capable person who could start the thought process on my own.

Putting these experiences together, I’ve been reflecting on the role power inherent in career counseling, and the reflexive temptation to problem solve from a position of expertise. I’m learning to differentiate skills development (resume and cover letter writing, interview preparation, networking strategies) from the leadership that comes more from listening than imparting wisdom.

As an example, I recently advised a midlife student who had just completed an associate’s degree and was torn between continuing on for her bachelor’s in either human resource management or liberal arts. Even as the counselor and huge champion of our traditional liberal arts undergraduates, the recruiter in me admittedly had concerns about short-term employability at a different life stage.

After two in-depth meetings and a series of self-assessments, it became clear that this decision was not a 50/50 proposition. While my student expressed feeling entirely capable of fulfilling the HR program requirements, she voiced much stronger feelings of apathy toward the curriculum. While we had a candid discussion about potential pros and cons, she was powerfully drawn to the liberal arts, and was willing to integrate experiential learning into her already full-time-plus schedule to weave the pieces together.

My student confirmed her decision with her academic adviser shortly thereafter, and copied me on a note that generously described my role as a supportive sounding board. This felt strange at first. Had I done her a disservice by not providing more active advice? What if her decision didn’t lead to the financial security she was also seeking?

Then the realization hit. My role was not to absolutely know what she should do, nor to provide a consultant-like recommendation with supporting bullet points. It was, in fact, to listen and to give her the space to reach her own decision, her own knowing, weighing available data with what already felt true for her.

NACE career counselors, have you confronted this distinction within your own practices and student relationships? What have you learned along the way?

 

Bring More Than Just Jobs to Campus This Fall

Smedstad-HeadshotShannon Smedstad, Employment Brand Director, Global Communications & Engagement Team, CEB
Twitter: @shannonsmedstad
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shannonsmedstad
Blogs from Shannon Smedstad.

When a company’s core message on campus is simply “WE’RE HIRING,” it can get lost amidst the other noise.  Students may have a difficult time differentiating jobs at one company over jobs at another. This is particularly true if your organization is new to campus, in a highly competitive industry, or relatively unknown.

According to the CEB 2014 Employment Branding Effectiveness Survey, millennials spend more than 50 percent less time than other generations researching organizations before they decide to apply. On average, millennials spent 12.4 hours learning about employers during their most recent job search, whereas other generations averaged 25.9 hours. Now more than ever, employers must think of innovative and “consultative” ways to increase their employer brand awareness to reach this highly sought after demographic.

One way to stand out, while continuing to add value to your overall campus relationships, is to do more than just promote jobs. You’ll also have to do more than just promote your company. Here are several ideas to brainstorm with your teams as you begin your fall planning:

Scholarships and Award Programs

What college student couldn’t use a little extra cash for school? Scholarships and other monetary awards—offered directly to target universities, via student organization partnerships, or through online submission platforms—are a great way to build brand awareness in a more altruistic way.

For example, if your company hires engineering majors, consider offering scholarships to second- and third-year students. This will allow you to identify engineering talent early and learn more about them, while also positioning your organization as a place that gives back.

Real Life Projects and Case Competitions

Years ago, my previous employer partnered with a professor at Penn State on a semester-long capstone project for one of his classes. We sponsored a team of five incredibly bright students as they worked through a real-world IT issue affecting our business. At the end of the semester, the CIO traveled with me to campus to listen to the group’s presentation. He was so impressed by the students that he wanted to make offers on the spot!

This is just one example of how companies can partner with universities to bring value to students’ academic experiences. It was a great way to get executive buy-in for future partnerships and to engage top university talent on a more consultative level.

Internships and Externships

Right now, many companies are in the throes of summer internship programs. The best companies know the value of providing meaningful work experiences to students. Executing a 10-week internship requires time, effort and resources, as well as people with a passion for developing talent. But what happens when summer is over and students are back on campus? By offering a week-long externship during breaks, organizations can continue to foster relationships and stay top-of-mind with key universities, pipeline candidates, and student organizations.

Purposeful Offerings With Business Outcomes

Building up additional programs on top of your existing campus strategy takes a lot of time and effort. Not only are talent acquisition teams expected to fill 50, 100, or 1,000 entry-level job openings, they are now being asked to commit to developing, marketing, administering, and measuring programs. This can be overwhelming to some campus recruiters, and the programs that should be adding value become just one more box to check.

Before rolling out a new program or revamping an existing one, find a champion—someone who’s excited about owning the program and driving results. A well thought-out initiative that is superbly executed can translate into real business outcomes, including:

•    Higher participation in on-campus events
•    Greater brand awareness at tier-one schools
•    Uptick in website traffic and social media engagement
•    Increased internship and/or full-time job applications
•    Increase in quality of hire due to early identification and relationship building

If your organization does not have the resources for add-on programs, another key way to attract students is through the interactions they have with your recruiters and hiring managers. Encourage your teams to take a more consultative approach to their recruiting or interviewing styles, by seeking to build relationships and trust, listen carefully, and foster open lines of communication.

Instead of funneling candidates through the hiring process like a widget on a conveyor belt, teach recruiters to focus on building relationships and creating positive candidate experiences. The CEB survey also states that millennials receive 12.5 percent more offers than other generations, so dedicating extra attention to the candidate experience is likely to help organizations improve their offer to acceptance conversion rates of millennial candidates.

Will your organization take more than just jobs to campus this fall? How are your teams taking a more consultative approach to hiring millennials? Share your insights below.

You’ll find more information on best practices in recruiting on NACEWeb.

Career Development, the U.S. Job Search, and International Students: The “S Word” (Sponsorship)…and Keeping Students Motivated (Post 4)

Ross WadeRoss Wade, assistant director, Duke University Career Center
Personal blog: http://mrrosswade.wordpress.com/
LinkedIn URL: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosswade
Twitter: @rrwade
Blogs from Ross Wade.

The whole sponsorship process can seem overwhelming, confusing, and daunting. I’ve seen many a career adviser’s face go blank (with a slight hint of “YIKES!”) when asked about this process from an international student seeking work in the United States. Here is the good news: you don’t have to know everything! As a career adviser, you simply need to understand the sponsorship basics, connect the student to the correct resource/office, discuss strategies and resources for the career search, and provide hope (and not just the mushy “you can do it!” stuff…I mean concrete hope in the form of proof through past successes). Not too scary, right?

Step one. Find the visa services office at your institution. Check out their website, and find a contact you can use to connect with students, to answer occasional questions. Your institution’s visa services office will have information on a variety of issues, including optional practical training (OPT) and curricular practical training (CPT), along with other links, and instructions for various processes. If your institution (or company) does not have a specific office or website for this, Duke University’s website is very helpful. Every year or so, my office has our visa services contact visit during a staff meeting to review the sponsorship process and current trends or changes, and answer questions.

Step two. Find resources you can provide international students with to help them with the U.S. job/internship search. I mentioned a few books and other resources that are very helpful in my first post in this series. I have two additional online resources that I find super beneficial…and my students LOVE them too.

GoinGlobal—This is a paid service that some of you may not have (don’t worry, I have a free resource below that is also very helpful), that provides tons of great information including companies that have petitioned for H1-B’s in the past (clues to international student friendly companies); country guides with employment and internship job sites, cultural job search information, top companies, and industry and employment trends.

MyVisaJobs—This is a free resource with information on work authorization (e.g., H-1B and student visas); links to attorneys categorized by state; and databases for finding companies that have petitioned for H-1B’s each year—you can search by employer, city, state, industry, job title, or by if the petition was certified, withdrawn, or denied. Great stuff!

Now, to the third and final step. Provide hope to your student. The information students can garner from the above links gets them motivated, but connecting them to others that have found work in the United States successfully provides great hope. Not only does this type of connection/networking provide hope, but it also provides instruction, direction, and the potential for a wonderful mentorship opportunity. Creating a database of international alums working in the United States, will be highly beneficial to you as you’ll be able to connect these alums to current students and invite them to panels or other special events. These alums can also be a great resource to you, and entry into a stronger relationship with their employer. If you don’t have a spreadsheet or database, you can certainly use LinkedIn (I especially like the “Find Alumni” trick I wrote about in my second post under “Ideas and Resources”).

I hope my posts on assisting international students with the US job search have been helpful to you. I’d love to hear about other strategies and resources that have worked for you—if you have any, please share the love by leaving a comment!

Find Ross Wade’s other blogs on working with international students. Part 1, part 2, part 3. Get Quick Tips for Assisting International Students on NACEWeb.

Career Coaching Notes: How Are You Meeting Student Needs?

Rayna Anderson

Rayna A. Anderson, career counselor, University of Houston
Twitter: @Rayna_Anderson
LinkedIn: www.LinkedIn.com/in/RaynaA
Blog: RaynaAnderson.wordpress.com
Blogs from Rayna Anderson

Many of today’s college students are bold, hungry, and pressed for time. They have high expectations and want to be connected with the best opportunities in the fastest way possible. So is the traditional, one-hour appointment the most effective way for your staff to use its time? Not always.

You’ve seen it before: a student comes in for their scheduled appointment, but their cell phone keeps buzzing and they seem to be very preoccupied. They nod you along hurriedly as if to say, “Yeah, yeah. Just get to the good stuff already!” This behavior reflects several research findings that suggest that the average American attention span is getting shorter.

As professionals in a helping field, we get teased about the “fluffy” nature of our work and that we spend too much time on “touchy, feely” discussions. But in today’s world of easy access and instant gratification, the reality is that not every student needs a hug.

(Find tips and best practices in career counseling and coaching on NACEWeb.)

So, is your staff able to shift gears based on students’ needs? Are we acknowledging the difference between counseling and coaching and then adjusting our services accordingly? Or, have we made hour long appointments our standard? These longer appointments are great when a student has career concerns that require in-depth attention but in other cases, students just need quick and specific advice. Answer the poll and comment below; let us know your opinion on appointment duration and the need for a change of pace in career services!