Teachers are often asked to help students design resumes for future employers. We have to be thinking in really practical terms about what our students’ employers will want to see. Lisa Johnson took this question head-on, asking CFOs, engineers, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, artists, and managers of all trades and topics: What do employers look for in portfolios and resumes?
Here were some of the answers:
- The ability to work with a team
- Tech savviness
- Attention to detail
- Evidence of being a constant learner
It’s one thing, though, for students to simply state that they have these skills on a resume. Says who? What’s the proof? That’s where portfolios come in.
Portfolios are living, online documents of reflection and learning. Their purpose is to tell a story: to highlight students’ skills, their passions, and their critical thinking about their own learning. Employers regularly go to the Internet to learn about applicants. Imagine if what they found was an impressive portfolio of projects and work, showing this student’s dedication and expertise? That would make quite an impression.
As Lisa Johnson says:
We now assign trust and legitimacy to those who have some sort of website or online presence. Think about the last time that you shopped for a photographer, a handy man, or even a doctor. Most of us wouldn’t even consider hiring a photographer without seeing their photos and website. …
Many companies have shifted their requirements for employment from traditional qualifiers to soft skills like self-regulation, problem-solving (and problem-finding), and good communication skills. For example, Google has stated that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring… we found that they don’t predict anything” (Friedman, 2014). They rely more on five attributes: general cognitive ability, emergent leadership, intellectual humility, ownership, and expertise.
While not all of these soft skills can be easily documented exclusively through a resume or online portfolio, students can share strong examples of each by curating and crafting their own exemplars.
To help you get started using portfolios, read through Ch. 5 of Lisa’s new book, Cultivating Communication in the Classroom.