Professional Portfolio for Technical Communicators; Part I


Applying for a job can be a stressful experience for anyone, but applying for a job with little or no experience has the added stress and challenge. Therefore, your portfolio is a major component in the application process. A portfolio attests to your work, accomplishments, skills and your ability and experience. If you have the skills and the experience, but never had a job with a title of technical writer, a portfolio will testify in your favor.

A portfolio does not replace a resume, but it can highlight your abilities and what you can offer in the technical writer career. Creating a portfolio shouldn’t be a scary process, you only need to take your time and organize yourself. Take a breath, and try not to get discouraged. In the first part of this article we will review the characteristics of an online portfolio. In the second part of this article we will review the characteristics of a printed portfolio.

With that said, I will guide you on how to prepare your portfolio.

Online vs. Printed Portfolio

My recommendation is to complete two portfolio, one which can take to interviews (print), and another a little longer (online), which you can elaborate a little more. There are some differences between them, so we will discuss them separately. I will start with the online portfolio.

Online Portfolio

The first step to create an online portfolio it’s to choose where to publish it.  I chose the “Chateau” theme from WordPress.  



An online portfolio might include these elements:

  1. Introduce yourself;
  2. Feature articles you have written;
  3. Technical Writing and/or Desktop Samples;
  4. Resume;
  5. Transcript and/or certificates; and
  6. Letters of Recommendation/References.

1. Introduce yourself; this is a brief description to the prospect employer or client about what can you do for them.

2. Feature articles you have written; here you will show any article you have written, like blog articles, newsletters, forums and any other format you can think of (including some college essays).

3. Technical Writing and/or Desktop Samples; you may include here quick reference guide, owner’s manuals among other works.  If you don’t have any work sample you may create your own. 

As part of the research I made to write this article, I selected an owner’s manual from the Manuals Online website. I chose a General Electric Magnetic Swipe Card Reader Owner’s Manual. Once you select the document, please review the instruction manual and draft your own manual using simpler language. Put both the original manual and your rewritten version in your portfolio.  You may see what I done in the following link.

Another idea is to write a training procedure for a common activity, such as teaching how to manage images in Microsoft publisher. You may find this sample here. 

4.Resume; focus on effectively transmit to your prospective employers and clients your ability to contribute effectively to the success of their goals.

5.Transcript and/or certificates; provide a brief paragraph introducing each certificate.

6. Letters of recommendation; post here your letters of recommendation. You may use recommendations posted on social networks like LinkedIn.

Please see below the portfolio example I created as part of this article.  Click on the image.

You can use the following online portfolio as an example.

Tips for Promote/marketing your portfolio

  • Join a professional online communities (LinkedIn, etc.) and networking with other community members;
  • Add your design to gallery websites; and
  • Include a link to your portfolio site in your Facebook profile or any other community you belong to

 Next: Professional Portfolio for Technical Communicators; Part II – Printed Portfolio (April 26, 2013).

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