Have you created an e-portfolio for job applications? If you attend the University of Massachusetts, the University of South Florida, Stanford, Marquette, or Westminster College, where e-portfolios are expected, you probably have developed one. E-portfolios—digitized dossiers of presentations, projects, writing samples, and other work—are used by over 50 percent of students looking for jobs or internships. Putting together an e-portfolio is “a learning experience, linked to a career opportunity,” said Associate Professor Tim Shea, who oversees a business school’s mandatory e-portfolio program.
Proponents contend that e-portfolios don’t replace résumés, they enhance them. “You can write on a résumé that you did an internship somewhere, but if I can see the projects that you worked on, it gives me a more rounded view of the candidate,” said Greg Haller, president of the Western U.S. region for Verizon Wireless. Student Inga Zakradze agrees, saying the e-portfolio gives “a better feel for me as
a well-rounded student.” And in a recent Association of American Colleges and Universities survey, 83 percent of respondents believed an e-portfolio would be useful. With all this affirmation, you might think an e-portfolio is critical to obtaining a job, but that would be a misperception. Other than Haller, opinions seem divided: schools like students to make e-portfolios, but employers don’t want them. One of the reasons is technological—HR screening software doesn’t allow for links to websites where
e-portfolios would be stored. Portfolio hubs Pathbrite and Portfolium have tried to get around this problem, but they have yet to obtain a single corporate contract. Another reason is information overload—managers don’t have time to read through, say, your travel log from a semester at sea.
Third, many companies don’t believe e-portfolios are value-added. “They are typically not a factor in our screening process,” said Enterprise talent acquisition VP Marie Artim. Stuart Silverman, a university dean, acknowledged the possibility. “Whether or not the prospective employer looked
at it, or weighed it, who knows.” Proponents of e-portfolios, primarily from the education
sector, believe there is value in them beyond job seeking. Kerri Shaffer Carter, a university director of e-portfolios, says, “We don’t draw a sharp distinction between the portfolio as a learning process and the portfolio as an employment tool, since the self-awareness that comes out of that process ultimately prepares the student for the workplace.” Just don’t expect all that hard work to land you a job.
6-14. How might the misperception about the importance of having an e-portfolio have begun?
6-15. What are the reasons you would decide to use an e-portfolio?
6-16. What do you think would be the best way to deliver an e-portfolio to a prospective employer?
Sources: “Global Digital Positioning Systems: E-Portfolios in a Digital Age,” 2015 Forum on Digital
Learning and E-Portfolios, January 24, 2015, Association of American Colleges and Universities, https://www.aacu.org/meetings/annualmeeting/AM15/eportfolioforum; M. Korn, “Giant
Resumes Fail to Impress,” The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2014, B7; G. Lorenzo and J. Ittelson,
“An Overview of E-Portfolios,” Educause Learning Initiative, July 2005, https://net.educause.edu/
ir/library/pdf/eli3001.pdf, accessed May 7, 2015.