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Determining what information to include on each page
Each page of your electronic portfolio should serve a particular purpose.
The following sections will help you craft the text necessary in creating
an effective and comprehensive portfolio.
Composing the home page text
The home page is an entry point into a website. Because your portfolio
is also in web format, your home page should also serve as the
entry point to the site, helping orient your audience
to the online portfolio. In creating the home page, you should consider including
the following information:
- A short discussion of what your electronic portfolio includes. An electronic
portfolio may be new to some people, so help your reviewers understand what
they're viewing, especially since the portfolio will resemble a website. In addition, give reviewers a sense of the kinds of documents you're presenting for them to look at.
- A short discussion of what you want the employer to take from your
portfolio. You could list your career objectives, for example, and
provide some of the same information you would in a cover letter,
yet in a slightly more general form since you're targeting multiple audiences.
- A list of file formats
the portfolio contains, such as PDF files, which require a PDF viewer or browser plugin. In addition, because PDF files can be large in file size, it's only fair to let your reviewers know about your use of this format up front. While
most computer systems will have Adobe Reader or another means of viewing PDF files already installed, you might consider linking to the free Adobe Reader just in case it's necessary.
- Navigation to each description page. Ideally, your navigation will
appear on the side or top and will take the form of a unordered
list that you style into something more formal using CSS.
- Any contact information you're willing to share publicly. If you provide an email address, use one that you will check often and that you are comfortable using. In other words, it should sound professional. If you include an email link, set it as an active link so users with Outlook or another email client can contact you simply by clicking the email link. If you're
graduating soon or may move and switch ISPs, consider using a Gmail address or similar email
address. If you have
your own website or blog that contains relevant content, also consider
providing a URL to it, again set as an active link.
Composing the description page text
The description page is necessary in an electronic portfolio, which
speaks in your absence. If you just link to projects without giving
any context for the piece, reviewers won't know what they're looking at or why you're
including the material. These description pages should provide such information.
The following is a list of information to consider including:
- A description and a brief summary of the project.
- An explanation of why the project is representative of your skills.
- The audience and purpose of the project.
- The situation for which you created the project.
- Requirements for completing the project.
- Strategies you used in planning and completing the project.
- Skills you used or learned in creating
the project, including software skills.
- Any collaboration that occurred on the project.
- Praise from instructors, clients, and supervisors.
- A link to the project.
This list, of course, isn't exhaustive. You may think of and include other relevant information that will help reviewers understand why you've included the piece in your portfolio.
Just as important as the information you include is the information
you omit. Don't make the following common mistakes when creating an your
- Don't describe what a document type is. If you're applying for
technical writing jobs, chances are the people who will review your
portfolio already know what a manual, proposal, website, Help system,
and so on are. Only describe what a document type is when it's an unusual
- Don't describe what all the students did on a project. Sometimes,
writers will look back to an assignment sheet and will tell what the entire class did. Employers don't care what the class did; they care what
you accomplished. Feel free to mention the course and some of the project requirements,
but don't list them verbatim. Focus, instead, on discussing the work you
did on the project.
Keep in mind that you'll use the "I" pronoun often because
you're writing about yourself and your work. In your portfolio description pages, writing
about yourself is important and necessary, not egotistical. Don't switch to passive voice to avoid using the "I" pronoun. Active voice is easier to read, and your employer may be looking to see that you can write in active voice.
Finally, try to keep the description pages concise. On the screen, make
every word count, and delete any text that serves as filler.
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