Eleanor Bradley: An online portfolio is the graduate’s best friend

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Finishing university can be a daunting time for young people. After sixteen years in education, the moment for stepping into the real world arrives. Even after the difficult decisions over what to do and where to do it, there is the battle to secure the job itself. Nineteen people apply for every medium-skilled role, and over half of candidates are suitable. Standing out and proving worth has never been more important.

Universities already offer good advice to help their graduates navigate the next stage in their life, from job and internship listings to interview guidance via their websites. The focus is on the CV, with 98% of university websites offering tips on creating one, yet only 22% point their students towards another crucial piece of the jobseeker’s jigsaw: proof of skills and experience with a portfolio.

Almost nine in every ten HR professionals would hire or proceed with a candidate who demonstrates their experience in a portfolio. For those graduates who are likely to have never been employed before, showing how relevant their activities, interests and work experience really is, can be crucial to secure a vacancy with so much competition.

Despite being associated with creative jobs such as writers, photographers or models, portfolios work across all careers and industries in today’s job market. HR recruiters look to them as a means of measuring presentation skills, organisation, IT skills and dedication; skills suitable to all professions.

In today’s digital world, creating this portfolio online is the smart option, not least because it saves on paper and carrying a heavy file around. A portfolio website supports creativity and is easy to personalise, there are plenty of templates to showcase those hard-won achievements, skills or part-time jobs. A personal website is easy to share and update online, and can be shown and discussed during the interview.

Showing, not just telling, how suitable you are for the job is key. Interviewees need to be aware of this and careers advisors have an important role to play in spreading the word to ensure their graduates have the best chance of securing a job.

Most students will be using their time at university to prepare for the job market but our research [Link to our news story] shows that universities are not updating their resources to fully reflect today’s job market. Regardless of role, industry or past experience, taking the time to put together a portfolio website has clinched many an opportunity.

An online portfolio not only gives employers confidence in a candidate’s professional skills but also gives them a glimpse into their personality to see if they are a cultural fit, which is equally as important in many cases. What’s more, by showcasing their skills on a personal website, students can continue to be found by prospective employers online and have a central place to store their achievements as their careers progress.

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