The use of portfolios in the employment process is growing, particularly in the Information Technology (IT) sector. If you are not already doing so, you may want to consider investigating how portfolios can help your America’s Promise participants.

An IT Portfolio is similar to an artist’s portfolio and enables the job seeker to visually demonstrate their practical skills through a collection of their work. Typically, job seekers use portfolios when applying for positions in web development, web design, and user experience design. By using an IT portfolio, the job candidate can highlight relevant aspects of their training and experience, including their design process, problem solving skills, and the tangible results of their work.  Employers are increasingly using IT Portfolios in addition to traditional interview question responses to aid in determining a candidates’ skill level and abilities for a particular IT position. 

Creating an IT Portfolio, as with creating a traditional resume, requires that the candidate select relevant high-quality content and a format that best illustrates their knowledge, skills and abilities in an on-line format.  Candidates can also use PDF versions of the portfolio if web-based capabilities are not available during an interview.

On-line portfolios are usually built in the form of a personal website, and are tailored for different types of jobs.  For programming positions, it is sometimes preferable to create a unique “About Me” page rather than using a premade template. For designers, it is often more acceptable to use a template such as those provided by Wix and Squarespace. For IT developers or engineers, individuals can spotlight their coding ability by making the code available to viewers on sites such as Github, which allow for collaborative software development and sharing of open source computer code.

The IT portfolio can also be used with a traditional resume to better support qualifications with real work examples.  Candidates can show their website or a PDF and engage in in-depth conversations about how they created the work or developed code, planned and designed the content aspects of the project, developed the customer-interface, and more.

Two America’s Promise programs are successfully using portfolios to help their IT participants be noticed, and ultimately hired.

CUNY TechWorks Initiative: Research Foundation, City University of New York (RFCUNY)

The Research Foundation of the City University of New York (RFCUNY), in partnership with three of its community colleges, developed the CUNY TechWorks Initiative, an intensive applied skills training program designed to complement and enhance Associate of Applied Sciences (A.A.S.) degree programs in three high-growth H-1B occupational fields: software applications development, computer programming, and IT systems administration.  The project is a comprehensive, industry-driven strategy to develop and sustain an IT talent pipeline.

RFCUNY instituted IT portfolios to assist businesses in selecting CUNY students during career fairs or interviews.  Job seekers use the IT Portfolio to illustrate their talents and abilities, in a dynamic and practical way, to potential employers. The America’s Promise employer partners use IT Portfolios in addition to traditional interview question responses in determining a candidates’ skill level and abilities for a particular IT position. For some CUNY employer partners, there is an expectation that students will attend an interview with a portfolio.  CUNY students have had tremendous success using IT Portfolios during the interview process with companies such as Bloomberg.

Capital Region Collaborative (CRC): Montgomery College, Maryland

In Maryland, the Capital Region Collaborative (CRC) is a consortium of three local community colleges located in Montgomery, Frederick and Prince George’s Counties.  Their project is focused on building a pipeline of qualified applicants for high level IT jobs by bridging the gap between traditional degree programs and real-world technical skills proficiency and using short-term/ boot camp style programs to prepare well-qualified IT and cybersecurity workers.  The training aligns with current labor market demand for Network Support, Software Development, Computer Programming, Database Administration, and Computer and Information Research.  CRC also offers a Java Programming Boot Camp and a shorter UX/UI (User Experience/User Interface) Design program.

Individuals who complete the CRC program in Maryland demonstrate their skills through IT portfolios that help establish the students' mastery of the subject and complement the industry-recognized credentials earned through this program.  Employers are thus able to review both the participants' credentials and demonstrated work as part of the hiring process.

The success with using portfolios in the IT industry has led to its adoption in other industry sectors because it provides a comprehensive view of the candidate while reducing the risk of a bad hire for HR professionals and hiring managers.  While portfolios are often used in the creative space, they are quickly becoming a great asset to other candidates in different career fields who are looking to showcase their talents and achievements and obtain a competitive edge.   

If you have experience using portfolios with your America’s Promise participants, we would love to hear about it!  Please post it on the Community of Practice’s Discussion Board.


Here are several examples of IT portfolios:

Web Development:

  1. (high level)
  2. (basic)

User Experience Design:

  1. (pdf hosted on personal website)