Research suggests gap in university support for graduate online portfolios

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At the UK Domain, we’ve highlighted before how important having an online portfolio is to graduates seeking new employment. But, recent research suggests that only a fifth of the UK’s top 50 universities offer up-to-date guidance on online portfolios as part of their online resources1. This means you may be missing the opportunity to showcase your skills and impress potential recruiters by not getting a personal website.

While our research shows that many universities are providing good resources to help graduates who are looking for a career, covering topics including internship seeking, interview preparations, assessment days, and CV writing, there is a gap when it comes to online portfolios.

And with the average employers conducting 14 interviews for every job post2, it’s no surprise that the job market for graduates is very competitive. Our research shows that a personal website showcasing skills and a personal brand is a great way to impress potential recruiters, with nine in every ten HR professionals being more likely to hire or proceed with a candidate that demonstrates their experience in an portfolio. If you’d like to get started creating your own online portfolio, here’s a brief roundup of the essential steps to get started:

1. Choose your domain name

When it comes to having an online portfolio you can also think about it as owning your own part of the Internet. Investing in your own domain is a great step, and it’s a lot cheaper than you think with many registrars offering special offers for the first year or so. Owning your own domain name allows you to have your own website address, for example yourname.co.uk rather than one provided by many website builders, such as yourname.wordpress.com. It’s a great way to appear professional and is easily memorable when sharing with potential recruiters.

A great place to start is to see if your name is available still, if it’s not you can perhaps try adding in your middle name, profession, degree subject, or the industry you’d like to enter such as photographer or digital marketer.

Further advice can be found on our ‘Choosing a domain’ page and our Head of Content, Peter shares some great tips when it comes to buying a domain in this video too.

2. Choose your registrar

Registrars are online retailers where you can buy your domain and there are many to choose from. To help you pick one take a look at the following and check out our ‘Choosing a registrar’ page:  

  • Look at the services they provide and what you get included with your domain name. Many registrars will also offer you an email address so you can create a great first impression with a .co.uk email address compared to a free one from an email provider.
  • Many registrars will offer special discounts for the first year, however just make sure you have a read of the T&Cs so you know how much the package is after the offer period.
  • Read some reviews and speak to friends to get some honest feedback on providers. It’s worth looking at the customer service provided by each registrar, for example live web chat, so you know you’ll be able to get help easily should you need to.

3. Think about what you want to include on your personal portfolio

Alongside the essentials, such as your name, contact details and education now’s the exciting time to start thinking about what you can include on your online portfolio.

If you specialise in a visual industry how about creating a gallery page to showcase all your previous projects or work experience? Or if you love writing about your experiences or sharing your thoughts on the latest industry news why not add a blog to your website so you can regularly post articles there? This can also be a great way to not only showcase your personality but will keep your online portfolio fresh.

Enjoy building your portfolio, many website builders offer user friendly drag and drop templates and ready designed CV and portfolio themes to get you started so don’t be afraid to have a play around.

To help we’ve written an article on what to include on your online portfolio and BBC The Apprentice runner up Bianca Miller-Cole also shares her WordPress tips for online portfolios here.

4. Expand your personal website and keep it updated

Once you’ve got your personal portfolio live you can add the link to your paper CV, social media profiles (it might be a good idea to give these a once over too) and start including it in your applications and emails to potential employers.

If you complete another great piece of work, or finish some excellent work experience don’t forget to update your personal website to keep it fresh too. One of the greatest benefits of owning an online portfolio is it gives you so much more room than the traditional 2 sides of A4 of a paper CV. If you’d like further support from your university on online portfolios and creating a personal website, let them know. Perhaps there’s a feedback form or you can speak to one of your tutors.

Otherwise, you can find lots more information on choosing domain names, registrars and creating your own online portfolio in our Get Online section and Employment category. And, if you’ve got a question that we haven’t answered don’t forget our team is on hand to answer in our weekly videos, simply ask us your question on social media using the #asktheukdomain.

1 Top 50 universities taken from The Complete University Guide – https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings
2 2017 data from Workable.

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Neil Dagger is Head of Marketing, Planning, Insight and Analysis at Nominet. He has over 20 years experience in global IT organisations and now works on awareness campaigns, online marketing, partnerships, events and developing innovative research based programmes.

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