A special Ask-a-Project Manager feature with Patrice Embry: we're talking portfolios for project managers, creating our own websites, and how exactly we can show off our work.
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Issue #29

Ask-A-Project Manager: How do we create portfolios and show our work to others?

Happy Friday all! Once again, I'm excited to feature Ask a Project Manager with Patrice Embry. This week, we cover portfolios for project managers and just how exactly we can show off our work to others.

I loved reading through this question because it's stumped me so many times—I don't have very obvious ways to showcase my work on a project, unlike the developers or designers who worked on my team. This topic of PM portfolios has been a hot one over the years, and definitely something we all struggle with when trying to showcase our skills, work, and experience in project management. Luckily, Patrice has some great ideas and answers for us all!

A reader writes:
As a Digital PM, if a job you’re applying for asked you for a portfolio or proof of work that you have done, what does a portfolio look like or how can I show him/her the projects I've worked on?

Patrice answers:
I totally feel you. If you’re a designer, or copywriter, or even a programmer, you’ve got things you can put in a portfolio easily. But when you do work like we do, it’s definitely not as easy to “show” what you’re doing. 

So, I strongly recommend creating your own website, which is good for a few reasons:

  1. It forces you to think through your value proposition. You want the content on your site to convey what you do and how great you are at doing it, so you have to sit and think about that. It’s really a great exercise to find a succinct way of selling yourself.
  2. It lets you show some of your personality. Especially if you’re not meeting someone face to face - if you’re a freelancer or remote candidate - creating a website lets you show a little bit of yourself to someone who can’t see how fantastic you are in person. And if they do see you in person, your website will reinforce what they remember from your interview.
  3. It allows you to see all that you really have done. Resumes are great, but it’s somewhat mind-numbing to think in terms of Job Title, Duration, Bullet points, ad nauseum. A website allows you to break out of the resume mold and showcase the things you want people to know about you, and reminds YOU of all you’ve done to get where you are.

It’s really pretty easy to create a website that can stand in for a proper “portfolio”. You can use a service like Squarespace or Weebly, and within an hour or two, have a fully functioning site. You can talk about your client roster, projects you’ve managed, create case studies, and even use the age-old interview questions of “tell me about a time when a project you were managing went wrong, and how you fixed it” to inspire you on what to put on your site.

Once you have your site all ready to go, then start posting it EVERYWHERE. Brand the hell out of yourself. Put your website in your email signatures (from your personal mail, of course) and in any of your Slack channels or other message boards. And when the next job comes along and asks for a portfolio, you can point them immediately to your site, with a note that says “definitely check out the x section, where I talk about y, which is directly relatable to your vertical.”

One last note: your website should grow and change with you. Many folks make the mistake of putting up a website, then never really going back to it. Any time you have a new client, or a new article you’ve written or want to share, or have completed a new project, revisit your website and add to it. Maybe something in this last project really changed your thinking on how to approach things - then change up your website to reflect that! Make it as dynamic as you are. Good luck!

For an example of a project management portfolio, check out Patrice's site!

Want more advice?

Stay tuned for more! Want your questions answered? Send your burning PM questions to us and we might address it in an upcoming issue. In the meantime, check out the PM Advice blog for more questions and answers to tide you over.

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