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IT and BI Career Development September 2009
New Dimensions in Career Networking: Creating Your Visual Portfolio

by Jennifer Hay
Published: September 1, 2009
Jennifer Hay describes the benefits of creating a visual portfolio of your abilities and accomplishments.
A resume simply isn’t enough in a competitive job market. Getting your resume noticed is tough enough. Getting an interview is even harder. The Internet offers networking opportunities –LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc. – but even they don’t seem to capture the attention that you need to get a foot in the door. So what does it take to get attention? In a highly visual, multimediaworld, it makes sense that a visual portfolio of your abilities and accomplishments is at least part of the answer.

To find the entire answer look at three things: a well-crafted resume, an active professional network and a multimedia portfolio. A solid resume is important. It highlights your strengths andsummarizes your accomplishments. Networking is essential to find opportunities and to get your resume in front of the right people. But these may not be enough in today’s IT job market. You cangain advantage by making use of all the available tools, and by using them in ways that each complements the others. Add depth and expression to your resume by using a multimedia platform suchaswww.VisualCV.com. VisualCV brings your story alive by capturing enthusiasm for your profession and pride in your accomplishments. It goesbeyond one-dimensional text to create a rich and expressive three dimensional multimedia portfolio.

VisualCV supports all forms of multimedia and is flexible in design, layout and functionality. Its advantages are many. It has a user-friendly interface that lets you create a multidimensionalportfolio of your achievements using a combination of multimedia – images, text, audio and video. VisualCV is not intended to replace your resume nor duplicate it. Its purpose is to add valueto the highly summarized accomplishments on your resume. Just as an artist or actor uses a portfolio of mixed media to present their work, an IT professional needs a mixture of multimedia to besthighlight their achievements.

To understand why this is so important, let’s look at a significant change in resumes over the past few years. Resumes have transitioned from being a list of responsibilities to being resultsbased, using specific facts and measures. Employers are more interested in qualitative and quantitative results, and less so in generalized tasks and responsibilities. Of the two,“quantitative” – increased product sales by 35% or reduced costs by 25% – is easier to represent in a standard resume format. But when you’ve re-architected acompany’s technical infrastructure, it becomes a challenge to measure quantitative results and to describe qualitative results within the constraints of a resume.

I love stories and I have just the right one to illustrate my point. While working with a client to rewrite his resume, we discussed one of his projects for a backup and disaster recovery plan. Wecame up with a description that did a good job of highlighting his accomplishment and making a connection to business value.

Created a worry-free backup and disaster recovery (BDR) system. Used existing software to design a new BDR system that virtualized server image and acted as failover production server. Seamless transition and fault-tolerance delivered uninterrupted business services.

What it failed to capture was the smile in Jonathan’s voice as he described the many challenges he overcame. He was happy that his BDR system had already demonstrated its value to the business,but as a techie he was thrilled with all the cool technical stuff he was able to do. I know because I could hear it in his voice. Imagine the impact when his prospective employers can also hear theenergy, excitement and enthusiasm.

Decide What Multimedia Works for You

So if you’re convinced, how do you get started with your VisualCV? It is free to create an account, but that’s the easy part. Creating content is the real work to be done. Approachyour VisualCV as a communications project. You’ll want to communicate your qualifications to a particular target audience. Determine with whom you want to communicate and precisely what is itthat you want them to know. Once you identify the audience and the message, then it is time to craft a highly targeted message. You’ll find the raw material for the message in your experiences,projects, work products, presentations, articles, papers, etc. Finally, consider the time and commitment that you are prepared to make in creating and maintaining a VisualCV. Time is a significantfactor when deciding which format to use.

Visuals

Out of all your material, you’re almost certain to find some great visuals. Information technology is rich with visuals of all shapes, sizes and purposes. Charts, graphs, diagrams and models are all representative of IT deliverables. They have the ability to capture understanding with a minimum of confusion and misinterpretation; their primary purpose is to communicate clearly, succinctly and quickly. They are as necessary a communication tool as language. Amongst your images you’ll find such things as a system architecture, data model, business process model, database design and performance optimization technique – whatever you illustrate in performing your job that demonstrates your ability to create unique, innovative and effective solutions.

Video

You can link directly to articles and papers that you’ve written, but to simply post a document without explanation is not as effective as including an audio clip with images. If you have images, you can add audio with a minimum investment of a microphone, and recording/editing software. With attention to quality and an enthusiastic and engaging voice, you’ll add impact to your message.

I have a sample recording that illustrates all the advantages I’ve described. It was recorded by a friend and colleague whose voice lights up and quickens when he discusses cause and effect ondata governance programs.







The most time and resource intensive project you can create is a video that combines your face, your voice and other visuals you may have. For the excellent storyteller, it’s a persuasivemixture of multimedia that is difficult to resist. It provides full value for those willing to make the commitment of time and effort.

I am one of the few people who didn’t own a camcorder until late last week. Over the next several days, I quickly progressed from complete novice to having the minimum skill necessary tocreate, edit and publish a video. It was a painful experience that would have been less so had I read through the documentation rather than moving forward with the attitude, “I can figure itout.” I’ll assume that many of you already have videographer experience. I do have one statement of caution. Creating a video using your face, your voice and your images will betremendously harder than you can imagine. I suggest that you start with an incremental approach. Select a project that uses only images and audio because it will be easier for you to complete. Onceflush with your success, you can consider the more difficult task of creating a video.

What Now?

Once you’ve created a VisualCV that captures your skills, talents, experience and accomplishments, you’ll need to be proactive about driving traffic to your page. The adage of“build it and they will come” could not be less true. Take advantage of every opportunity to market yourself.
  1. Include the link as part of your email signature

  2. Add your unique VisualCV URL to your business cards

  3. Add the URL to your LinkedIn and other social networking profiles

  4. Include a link on your website

  5. Add the URL to you resume or specifically reference your VisualCV in cover letter

  6. Send your VisualCV link directly to colleagues and prospective employers

  7. Apply for jobs listed on the VisualCV site

Summary

A standard resume that describes your accomplishments in a compelling manner is one part of your professional portfolio. But as a standalone document it is not nearly enough. There is too muchcompetition for highly desirable IT jobs to rely on your resume to serve all purposes. A resume is one-dimensional – it shows your skills and experience but it doesn’t show you as a wholeperson. Your VisualCV represents you in your entirety and gives you the opportunity to shine. Take the time and effort to create a multidimensional presentation of yourself as a professional. Thenmarket yourself, and the benefits will follow.

Come see my multimedia VisualCV and let me know what you think.


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Recent articles by Jennifer Hay

Jennifer Hay - Jennifer combines career coaching and resume writing skills with a broad knowledge of information technology to provide specialized and targeted career guidance services to IT professionals. Jennifer's varied background of IT positions, technical training, career counseling, and educational advising make a solid foundation for IT career counseling. Her interest in the human side of career development makes each career plan personal and individualized. Her unique and IT-specific assessment methods help people to make the best career decisions. A disciplined approach to planning and action helps to turn decisions and plans into real career successes. Please visit Jennifer's website or contact her through email at jhay@ITresumeservice.com.