VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Build a Digital Portfolio to Land a Job

Guide Authors

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Bettina Peacemaker

Assistant Head, Academic Outreach
Business Research Librarian
VCU Libraries
bjpeacemaker@vcu.edu
(804) 828-8960  

Kim Hanneman

Kim Hanneman

‚ÄčAssistant Director,
Career and Industry Advising
VCU Career Services
hannemanka@vcu.edu

Use Innovative Media

The Innovative Media Workshop offers a comprehensive suite of resources, services and workspaces tohelp you as you build your digital portfolio. Here are just some of the resources you can use:

  • Portable green screen and lights
  • Adobe software including Photoshop and InDesign
  • Digital Audio Recorders
  • Multimedia Viewing room (with a 3-D TV monitor)
  • Sony HDR-CX290 camcorders
  • Samson Go USB mics
  • Sound Ideas effects library

Start Your Digital Portfolio in Journalism

You can use a digital portfolio to land a job in journalism. It's a great way to collect all of your work in one place, but it can also show that you are skilled at putting together an effective communications package, and more importantly demonstrates that you can produce news content and tell stories across multiple platforms and mobile applications. Take a look at The Creative Group's Salary Guide to see what creative and marketing skills can mean for your starting salary.

1. Assemble your samples and artifacts

Here are some areas of multi-media journalism that you should explore:

  • Writing 
  • Editing
  • Interviewing
  • Fact gathering and checking
  • Photography
  • Video editing
  • Delivering news on mobile devices
  • Linking social media platforms to web content

2. Target your audience

Clarify your professional aspiration and then build your portfolio with a specific audience or position in mind. Think about what your audience wants to see:

  • Familiarize yourself with news organizations.
  • Note their overall presence, website, social media, news coverage and audience demographics. 

(You can try a search in SRDS for possibilities and some demographic information, and information should be available on the organization's website.)

3. Focus on your strongest work

Showcasing a few of your best examples is superior to long list of unconnected work:

  • Present samples that will appeal to your audience.  
  • If you don't have strong samples, get to work on developing them.
  • Show relevancy and curiosity tied to your talent, hard work and skill set.
  • Give your work a reality check. Does it show emotional maturity, well-formed relevancy and critical thinking?
  • You'll stand out from the crowd of job seekers by highlighting professional-grade work instead of samples that call you out as a recent college graduate.

Check out Lynda.com or Pluralsight Creative for an online video library of tutorials to help you explore tech and creative skills to build your portfolio.

4. Explore platforms and choose wisely

Select a web-based platform and/or template that...

  • is well known by your target audience (to be found by potential employers)
  • allows for timely changes (to keep your portfolio current)
  • has cloud-based backup and is portable (to save your work and take it with you wherever you go)
  • is easy to navigate and can handle multimedia formats (to showcase your strongest samples)
  • can handle multiple formats 
  • includes a mobile version and multiple media integration (to edit and view on the go)

You will also want to consider whether you want to go beyond free resources and create a Website with your own domain name (you can also do this with a blog like WordPress) to establish a more lasting professional identity. 

Check out Lynda.com or Pluralsight Creative for an online video library of tutorials to help you explore platforms and web design.

5. Find examples to make your portfolio better

Take a look at portfolio examples in your field using your chosen platform. You need to establish your own voice, but you can use the examples to consider what works and what doesn't work and why. Here are some real life examples that will help you get started with your search:

6. Tell your story

You need to be a storyteller. News organizations want to know how you tell a story and interact online.  You'll want to show examples that tell stories, but you also want to use the portfolio to tell your story. You can start by organizing your portfolio into simple sections: a homepage, an "about me" section, your resume, examples of your work and contact information.

Your home page should be clean and simple with

  • Your name. If you are a William and go by Wills, please use William (Wills) Windsor.
  • Easy navigation to other sections of your portfolio. Make it easy for potential employers to explore your work.
  • A photo of you in action in your professional setting.
  • Buttons for LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and/or Facebook. Social media links demonstrate your social media savvy only if you are using these platforms. Be certain that your social media accounts are making the point that you are using social media platforms as an aspiring professional journalist.

Your work examples are the heart of your story. You should

  • Tell your story through your best work, so only include your best samples.
  • Come up with an organizational strategy that makes sense for you. Don’t worry about chronological order. Instead, think thematically.
  • Highlight your aspirations. You should show versatility, but if you are looking for work as a reporter make sure your writing samples are up front.
  • Go beyond coursework. Transform your portfolio (and work experience) with freelance projects to start building your professional identity.

Your “about me” section should include

  • Contact information: You shouldn’t provide a physical address. You can used an e-mail address, but make it professional.
  • A professional photo that you would use on a LinkedIn page.
  • A brief bio statement about your professional identity and aspiration. Write your bio in the first person. Use your bio to market yourself as a curious and inquisitive person.
  • Mentioning personal or side interests can work in this area if they are not political, religious or too personally revealing.
  • Being a recent graduate or journalism major doesn't distinguish you. Don't focus on this accomplishment when all of your competitors have the same credential.

Your resume should

  • Highlight your most relevant experience. Again, listing that you are a recent graduate or a journalism major doesn't distinguish you. Therefore, place your education at the bottom of the resume.

7. Evaluate, refine and revise

One hiring manager's comment about the portfolio: "Give me reasons why you should be in my newsroom."

So keep the "why me" question in mind as you evaluate your portfolio. Also, proofread your work carefully and get feedback from others (like your career adviser, faculty, and internship supervisors). You'll need to continually revise it and keep it up to date to ensure your experience is relevant to the job market.