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EPortfolios and How They Influence Hiring Decisions

EPortfolios can be useful to assess a candidate’s skills, qualifications and suitability for a particular job at many organizations. A resume offers a quick summary of an applicant’s skills and history, but an ePortfolio helps to show proof of that applicant’s abilities.

What Are EPortfolios?

EPortfolios – otherwise known as electronic portfolios – are a digital collection of a candidate’s qualifications, work samples, projects, achievements and other evidence of career-relevant skills. Normally, a recruiter or potential employer accesses a candidate’s ePortfolio by an electronic link.  

According to a 2021 survey conducted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), nearly 500 employer representatives revealed they value candidates with a liberal education. These same candidates also had valuable, job-related skills, including problem-solving, digital literacy, teamwork and communication.

EPortfolios are ideal for showcasing candidates’ abilities. They commonly contain a range of documents, such as:

  • The candidate’s life goals
  • School transcripts
  • Writing, video or graphic design samples
  • Certificates and awards
  • Life achievements
  • Accomplishments in prior jobs
  • Community activities

In this way, an ePortfolio is an opportunity for employers to learn much more about candidates than can be conveyed in a traditional resume. EPortfolios also help to enable candidates to package their skills and experience in their best light.

The Use of an EPortfolio to Assess Candidates Is Not New

Using ePortfolios for assessing candidate qualifications is not new. Rather, research from the past decades indicates that ePortfolios are a growing trend as recruiters and potential employers become more knowledgeable and comfortable with electronic platforms.

For example, savvy employers have used ePortfolios since the 1990s, according to a Business and Professional Communication Quarterly article by Karen Sterkel Powell and Jackie L. Jankovich. 

An EPortfolio Also Enables Recruiters to Gauge If Candidates Have Vital Business Skills

EPortfolios are useful for recruiters, because they make it easier to gauge if candidates possess vital business skills. As early as a 2002 survey, corporate recruiters indicated that the five top skills they evaluated in candidates were:

  • Oral/written communication
  • Computer literacy
  • Interpersonal/social interaction
  • Critical thinking/leadership
  • Teamwork

The survey’s respondents included an ePortfolio as one of the mechanisms to best demonstrate a candidate’s communication skills and computer literacy.

A 2013 survey conducted by the University of Notre Dame (UND) demonstrates the growth of employer use of ePortfolios. UND surveyed a focus group of 11 recruiters from “companies such as AT&T, Accenture, Boeing, General Mills, General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, P&G, and Stryker.” According to this report, eight out of the 11 recruiters agreed that applicants’ ePortfolios provided a “valuable tool” for recruiting.

Today, the current job market continues to emphasize the competitive advantage of a well-designed ePortfolio. According to researchers Diane M. Holtzman, Ellen M. Kraft, and Emmanuel Small in the Journal of Work-Applied Management, they found that “during the Covid and Post-Covid environment, employers are looking for people who are comfortable with taking the initiative, who display self-awareness and expert communication skills …[which] can be demonstrated through video and project-based artifacts within the ePortfolio and linked within the resume.”

These researchers conducted a 2021 study in New Jersey, which surveyed U.S. employers. According to the study, representatives of both large and small businesses believed that an ePortfolio demonstrating “exemplary work” would be helpful for an applicant during the hiring process.

Related: Reverse Mentoring: Fixing the Skills Gap in Organizations

EPortfolios Are Also Used Internationally

EPortfolios also enjoy international recognition in use for recruiting. For instance, ePortfolios are used in Australia, Taiwan, Canada, the United Kingdom and most European countries.

A 2020 survey conducted by education experts Monika Ciesielkiewicz, Claire Frances Bonilla and Carlos Olave López de Ayala notes that of 52 human resource directors surveyed in Europe (predominantly Spain), “83% of respondents would use an ePortfolio to select candidates for a job at some stage of the recruitment process.”

There is greater benefit to the ePortfolio than its value to employers and recruiters. According to a 2017 study by researchers Gail L. Ring, Chelsea Waugaman and Bob Brackett, college students who developed their ePortfolios performed better in job interviews.

In response to the personal and career enhancement for students provided by developing ePortfolios, universities include ePortfolio preparation in their academic curriculum. In a typical approach, students are encouraged to begin their ePortfolio planning early in their program, with the final preparation completed in a capstone course.

Researcher Michelle Wang writes in the Journal of Modern Education Review that this educative approach has proved to “permit students to appreciate their classroom work as preparatory skills development for future jobs.” In this way, the real-world significance of their academic studies and their real-world pursuits are woven into a hands-on application that tells their story.

Related: How to Survive a Job Loss and What Actions You Can Take

EPortfolios Are Especially Useful with the Rise of Virtual Hiring and Remote Work

The value of ePortfolios in hiring candidates seems undeniable. With the rise of remote work and virtual hiring processes, ePortfolios offer a convenient way for job candidates to help present their knowledge, skills, and abilities without the need for physical documents or in-person meetings. Employers can review ePortfolios at their convenience, collaborate with colleagues to assess candidates and even conduct virtual interviews based on the ePortfolio content.

Overall, ePortfolios should be a powerful tool for employers to gain deeper insights into a job applicant’s skills, experience and potential. By leveraging ePortfolios in hiring decisions, employers can make more informed assessments and identify the most suitable candidates for their organizations.

It’s crucial to note that ePortfolios have not yet replaced resumes. But the rapidly expanding digital world suggests that ePortfolios will become common for many employers, and a resume will become part of an ePortfolio.


Linda Clark Ashar, J.D., is a full-time Associate Professor in the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in business, law, crisis management, and ethics. She obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Akron School of Law. Her law practice spans more than 30 years in Ohio and federal courts. She has received the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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