Good afternoon everyone – I’d just like to say how delighted I am to be given the opportunity to speak at today’s employability learning lunch. I’ll be speaking about e-portfolios and my journey from creating and maintaining one to conducting research and writing a feature on them. Its great to see so many of you here and there are also some people following the event on Twitter. So please feel free to tweet about the event using #LeedsMetLL
Which looks like that!
Right then before I start – I just thought I’d give you a quick idea of my background
Here’s a quick list of the ways I was assessed at university and my final year was the first time I’d come across the idea of e-portfolios It’s always difficult to marry the need of business and academia, practical over theoretical but on the whole I think the University is creative in its assessment the PR course allowed us to develop practical PR skills and showcase them to employers, as well as submitting more traditional pieces of work.
A bit of background - Whilst, e-portfolios are growing increasingly common, in 2007/08 as an academic assignment they were rare.
In 2007/08 my old lecturer, Richard Bailey informed us that we could produce an e-portfolio. The idea putting my work online immediately appealed to me The argument for portfolios is well established, But at the time the case for e-portfolios was yet to be made, so I thought about why go digital.
These were basically my initial thoughts
There were other more practical considerations too.
That’s the closest thing I could find to a digital footprint on Google images! There were a few other considerations too…Around this time I became interested in the idea of a digital footprint and personal SEO. Staggering the amount of information we feely give away online and the digital footprint we leave behind. So I thought – I’m active across many forms of social media – and I wanted to leave a good digital footprint This in turn moved me towards the conclusion that an e-portfolio could be an integral part of my attempt to improve my personal SEO.
This article is from 2006 – personal SEO is nothing new If you type in a search engine ‘employers google potential employees’ it returns 366,000 articles – so it is well documented however it is something that people are consistently neglect
Have you ever googled your name and your industry? Try it I’ve spent a lot time ensuring my personal SEO is decent. On this slide you’ve got my e-portfolio, two blogs, CV and Linked In page
After some meetings with lecturers and firing off some emails to some students in America – I produced an e-portfolio. Here’s the printscreen It’s something I’m proud of and have kept up to date. Essentially, the written content was the same as hard copy portfolio, but it was enriched with video, audio, photos, blogs and social media. Whilst, I think it is right to consider e-portfolios an important part of your online presence, it is equally important to recognise they should just be one part of your overall online strategy. I’m a firm believer that the best strategy is to be active across several platforms, but the challenging part is to not to spread yourself too thinly.
Having submitted my e-portfolio I then thought…
The answer was to do some research and write an article for Behind the Spin – a student PR magazine I spoke to all sorts of people in the industry academics, managers, graduates and students about e-portfolios In hindsight I probably should have done the research first, not after submitting my e-portfolio. But it was creating the e-portfolio in the first place that got me interested in them. However, I’ve spoken to industry bosses, got their feedback and changed my e-portfolio around to make it more in tune with what employers want. It’s fair to say my current e-portfolio is somewhat different to the one I submitted in 2008. It’s important to recognise the different requirements of academic and business. E-portfolios are something that should evolve, they are a living piece of work
I spoke to Robert French of Auburn University and he highlighted the larger audience an e-portfolio gives you, as well as allowing you to demonstrate web 2.0 skills. He also made the point that it makes you more contactable – it still surprises me how hard it is to contact people offline. I’m not saying give out your telephone number and address, but an email or Linked In or Twitter account should all be clearly available.
Whilst, Karen Russell of Georgia University spoke about being able to demonstrate additional digital skills. An interesting point – you demonstrate far more than just PR skills with an e-portfolio
Similarly Stephen Waddington of Speed Comms, also mentioned that e-portfolios demonstrate an individuals skills. Essentially, he is in agreement with the academics on e-portfolios. If anything, I feel e-portfolios can help bridge the gap between academia and business
However, there are some e-portfolio pitfalls to consider
I then spoke to a graduate Dave Turnbull – that’s him on the left bwt Dave mentioned the ‘wow’ factor and being able to demonstrate something a little bit different. It’s all about standing out from the crowd.
Emma a current PR student also spoke about the competitive edge and differentiating herself She also thought e-portfolios allow a student to show off more of their experience before an interview
Here’s the result - a print screen of the Behind the Spin article!
However, there were some more unexpected results – I received this Tweet yesterday from Stephen…
Here’s Stephen’s e-portfolio I think this is an important breakthrough – SW, a senior PR MD recognises that recording achievement is not just for junior staff and graduates. Unsurprisingly, as a PR man – he’s very good at his own PR!
Another, surprise was the useful tips I got from employers… Here Roger Warner talks about how to really impress people at a social media PR agency – what more could students want?!
And here Stephen talks about personal SEO again straight from the horses mouth
These were the conclusions I managed to draw from the interviews E-portfolios won’t replace hard copy – there is still a need for the traditional portfolio, e-portfolios just supplement the process E-portfolios could certainly be deciding factor – all things being equal they would swing it Nobody thought they were a bad idea. E-portfolios are just one part of your online presence – it pays to be active across a range of social media
Get Ahead - Go Digital
Get ahead – go digital January 2010 By Ben Cotton [email_address] www.twitter.com/bencotton www.socialwebthing.com www.linkedin.com/in/bencotton www .ben -cotton .com
www .ben -cotton .com Introduction <ul><li>Studied BA (Hons) Public Relations and graduated in 2008 </li></ul><ul><li>Currently on Leeds Met’s Graduate Trainee programme </li></ul><ul><li>Worked in the Leeds Met press office, Yorkshire CCC PR dept and PR research centre </li></ul><ul><li>Recently accepted a role at Edelman </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com A bit of background <ul><li>PR e-portfolios were unprecedented in the UK </li></ul><ul><li>Robert French of Auburn University was a pioneer </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraged by lecturer </li></ul><ul><li>Spoke to Auburn University students </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Portfolios <ul><li>Portfolio is a PR course requirement – 15 items with rationale </li></ul><ul><li>Have been common in creative industries for years </li></ul><ul><li>Bridge the gap between academic and practical </li></ul><ul><li>Boost employability </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Why go digital? <ul><li>Something different </li></ul><ul><li>A challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Enhance with several forms of media </li></ul><ul><li>Potentially a much larger audience </li></ul><ul><li>Look professional </li></ul><ul><li>Easily updated </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Electronic vs. Paper <ul><li>No paper vs. lots and lots of paper </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap vs. some expense </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate web 2.0 skills vs. cutting and sticking </li></ul><ul><li>Email link vs. show hard copy </li></ul><ul><li>Stand out from the crowd vs. follow the crowd </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Then I thought… <ul><li>I really enjoyed making my e-portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>I’m actually really interested (I surprised myself!) in them </li></ul><ul><li>I want to find out more </li></ul><ul><li>What can I do? </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com The answer <ul><li>In February 2009 I wrote an article for Behind the Spin magazine </li></ul><ul><li>I carried out interviews with PR senior managers, academics, graduates and current students </li></ul><ul><li>Finding out their opinion on e-portfolios </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits, pitfalls, anecdotes and words of advice </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Academic Perspective <ul><li>Robert French, Auburn University: </li></ul><ul><li>E-portfolios give you a broader audience </li></ul><ul><li>Allow you to illustrate skills in an online environment </li></ul><ul><li>Make the interactive process faster via email, chat and social networking sites </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Academic Perspective Karen Russell, Georgia University: ‘ They also show creativity and initiative on the student’s part. So even if those particular skills aren’t needed, the applicant might gain from being seen as a person with those qualities.’
www .ben -cotton .com Employer Perspective Stephen Waddington, MD Speed Communications: ‘ e-portfolios are a superb shop window into an individual’s skills and expertise. They enable a student to demonstrate the extent of their knowledge in an open and transparent way.’
www .ben -cotton .com Pitfalls <ul><li>Client confidentiality </li></ul><ul><li>Personal privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Extremely public </li></ul><ul><li>Could look stupid and damage reputation </li></ul>
www .ben -cotton .com Graduate Perspective Dave Turnbull, Skywrite Communications Graduate: ‘ I believe that being able to produce something a little different, whilst also demonstrating proficiency with technology is something that appeals to employers.’
www .ben -cotton .com Student Perspective Emma Long, Leeds Met final year student: ‘ I would like to think that an e-portfolio will give me a competitive edge – whether it be showing a good use of new media skills or simply because employers are able to see a sample of work a lot sooner.’
www .ben -cotton .com Employer Tip! Roger Warner, MD Content & Motion: ‘ To really impress, why not give a presentation of your e-portfolio and show results using a combination of Google Analytics, press cuttings and testimonials.’
www .ben -cotton .com Employer Tip! Stephen Waddington, MD Speed Communications: ‘ Inevitably employers are using Google as a personal reputation engine and scrutinising these types of sites to review an individual’s career history and work ahead of hiring an individual.’
www .ben -cotton .com Conclusions <ul><li>E-portfolios will not replace hard copy portfolios – just supplement the recruitment process </li></ul><ul><li>Consensus was ‘although an e-portfolio won’t get you the job on its own – it could certainly be a deciding factor’ </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody thought e-portfolios were a bad idea </li></ul><ul><li>It’s not just about e-portfolios – it’s about being active across a range of social media </li></ul>