Tuesday, January 18th, 2000

Savvy Online Portfolios Are All About Business

Patrick Kearney, director of broadband production for Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment in New York, wanted his professional web site to reflect more of his personality. He scaled back the resume portion of the site to focus on his viewpoints on industry issues and to showcase press clippings, his biography and video clips from his speaking engagements.

Mr. Kearney says the site has helped "brand" himself professionally. "Some executives are known for wearing bow-ties or being able to quote great literary figures in a business context -- I have a web page," he says.

The second of a two-part series on online professional portfolios. Read part one, Online Portfolios Show More Than a Resume

Growing numbers of professionals who build online portfolios for their resume and career credentials are using their sites to get more personal with the employers, recruiters and others who visit them.

How Much Is Too Personal?

Consider Richard Shin and Gina Amenta-Shin, a professional couple in Chicago, who have both used online portfolios to help them find jobs. They share a web site, www.amenta-shin.com, which houses their resumes, professional portfolios and short biographies alongside a photo album, news of family visits, birthday greetings and their annual family newsletter. The two keep their professional sections distinct by giving each their own style with colors and design formats that reflect their different personalities.

Mr. Shin, a project manager for Centrifusion Inc., an e-business consulting firm in Chicago, emblazoned his section with his monogram logo and used dark colors as accents. Ms. Amenta-Shin, an educational consultant, added a few feminine-looking scroll graphics and boxed her information menu in pink.

Professional resume writers and recruiters caution job seekers against including too much personal information and creating elaborate sites filled with distractions.

They should be strictly business, says Pat Kendall, a professional resume writer in Aloha, Ore., and president of the National Resume Writers Association. Family photographs and elaborate graphic designs are inappropriate in her view. "With the technology available today, people add so many unnecessary things like photos, graphics and artwork just because they can," she says. When in doubt about what to include in an online portfolio, job seekers should think about what they would send someone if it was on paper.

"You need to keep a site direct, organized and obvious because employers want to learn as much as they can about an applicant, but they will probably read as little as they can. So it has to be obvious," says Missy Shorey, a recruiting account director for the high-tech team at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in Atlanta.

How personal is too personal is often a matter of opinion, says Michael Bloom, president of iAmaze Inc., a web-based applications provider in San Francisco.

"Some people might think a professional photo is too personal because the employer shouldn’t need to know what they look like to hire them," he says. "Others might think having personal pages with a picture of their girlfriend in a bikini is appropriate because it’s part of their life and shows who they are."

One executive found that his family web site helped his career. After landing his job as president of Driveoff.com, an automotive e-commerce company in Denver, Michael Kranitz dropped his digital resume from his personal web site, Kranitz.com, and dedicated it to his family (though it still links to Driveoff.com, which is being acquired by Microsoft’s MSN CarPoint). Its popularity among colleagues and business associates gained him notice in the e-automotive field. As a result, he was asked to speak at an industry conference. "The conference was not only looking for an industry spokesperson, but an individual with the right personality and based on what they saw on my web site, I was chosen as keynote speaker," says Mr. Kranitz. Now, he’s preparing for his fourth year as conference chairman.

The bottom line for job seekers, Ms. Kendall says, is whether the information will help or hurt your candidacy. Some employers like to get to know their candidates well and even extremely personal information may help you land a job, she says. Including it could help make a connection that may not be evident in professional information.

-- Ms. Gates is a writer in Muskegon, Mich.

Return to Amenta-Shin.com