Foliotek Blog

Want a Job? Use Your Experiences

Getting a job isn't easy. Statistics show that half of all college graduates under the age of 25 are either unemployed or underemployed. You certainly don't want to be the person who owes Uncle Sam $100,000 big ones and is stuck selling sneakers at Shoe Carnival. You'll never move out of mom & dad's basement!!

So how do you find meaningful employment --- a career matching your passions and making use of your six figure education? It's not as hard as you think. You need two things. A digital brand (online identity) that acts as your virtual introduction and evidence that demonstrates your GRIT and Professional Skills as they pertain to your future employer.

Online Identity (virtual brand).

First, you need an online introduction. This is your opportunity to make that killer first impression. Sorry, but Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and even LinkedIn just don't cut it. I'm not going to spend time detailing how to do this...just go here and create a free account. You'll be done in 10 minutes. Step two is where we'll focus our attention today.

Quote by Dan Schawbel

Showcase GRIT & Professional Skills.

Today employers are more interested in hearing about your past experiences than grilling you with traditional interview questions. Why? Because research has shown that past experiences are a great predictor of future behaviors. Because of this, it behooves the interviewer to hear about your past experiences as they pertain to the skills they want their employees to possess. To do this, they ask questions about what you have done. This way, they learn what you can do. This style of interview questioning is called "Behavioral Based Interviewing." It looks like this:

Instead of asking you: "What would your best friend say is your greatest strength?"

You'd be asked: "Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership?"

You see, the employer already knows what skills they desire in a new hire (in this case, leadership). They want you to prove you possess those skills based on your previous experiences. This means you need to be ready with stories from your previous experiences that demonstrate the GRIT and Professional Skills the hiring manger is looking for. How do you do this? It's pretty simple, but it takes some focused time.


Before you do anything, read through some job postings and think about what type of skills the job you want requires and make a list. We’ll call this "List A." If you're feeling lazy, just check out this Burning-Glass report or use the suggestions below.

  • Communication Skills
  • Organizational Skills
  • Writing Skills
  • Intuition
  • Customer Service Skills
  • Base Technology Skills (Microsoft Word, Excel)
  • Problem Solving
  • Resilience
  • Planning
  • Research
  • Being Detail Oriented
  • Ability to Grow

Now that you have List A, hit the pause button on your life (I know, this is the hardest part, but remember $65,000/year is way better than $9/hour). Take some time and think back on the substantial experiences in your life and make another list, "List B." For me, this means closing my eyes and forcing my mind to travel back-in-time and relive various aspects of my life. Try tapping into a few of these helpful categories:

  • Big school projects
  • Extracurricular school activities
  • Volunteer experiences
  • Previous job/internship experiences
  • Social experiences
  • Family interactions


With those experiences in mind (List B), try to connect some GRIT and Professional Skills (List A) with how you demonstrated those skills in that experience (List B).

(List A) x (List B) = New Job

Repeat that process a few more times (3 - 7 should suffice). Now you're locked, loaded, and ready to nail your next interview.

But wait… stop the presses… you have to get to the interview first! AHHHH!!!

Hopefully you've already taken care of Building you're Online Identity. If you have, then simply tie these stories to your Online Identity and put a link on your resume. This one two punch puts you a step ahead of everyone else. Hiring managers will be impressed by your virtual introduction and the stories demonstrating the GRIT and Professional Skills they need. You'll certainly land the interview and ultimately that great, better paying job.

Now, go by your last pair of shoes with your employee discount and move out of Mom and Dad's basement. Welcome to productive citizenship.

Find a Job by Telling Your Story


Tin Toy, a video short by Pixar, won Pixar's first Academy Award for the Best Animated Short Film. I'd imagine that some people would argue that their win was driven by their impressive 1988 introduction of 3D graphics. However, even if that was true, you can't argue with how they delivered a memorable story. A story that laid the foundation for three major movies that collectively earned just under 1.9 billion dollars. That's a "B" for "Billion"!

Stories are everywhere and every person has their own unique story to tell. The ability for you to share your own unique story is what will intrigue potential employers, help you gain employment, and influence the amount you get paid. So how do you do this?

Stories for Employment

Your story should be broken into three Acts (like a good play)

  • Act I - Introduction
  • Act II - Introduction of Evidence
  • Act III - Evidence Detail

Act I - Introduction

This is a super short pitch that details the most important things about you as quickly as possible. If this is written, it should be fewer than 200 words. If this is being shared verbally, it should take fewer than two minutes.

Here is an example of a visually pleasing, short and simple digital introduction. Foliotek Identity Page

Act II - Introduction of Evidence

Once your introduction grabs someone's attention, you need something authentic to show them or talk to them about. This comes in the form of evidence. When sharing evidence visually, you MUST use good imagery. Research shows that the brain translates visuals 60,000 times faster than text. The image a potential employer sees will speak to them faster than anything else. So take advantage of this visual bias and use intriguing imagery. Good use of images is essential to telling a great story. Watch Tin Toy again, not only is this video short void of text, there isn't a single spoken word.

Additionally, people's interests vary. It is important to have a smorgasbord of interesting evidence. You don't know what might peak someone's interest. Just be certain when you are choosing evidence, that it is consistent in showcasing the skill set and mindset that best places you in a position for employment.

Foliotek Project List

Act III - Evidence Details

People looking at your story won't make it to Act III unless they are impressed with the first two Acts. If those are done well, the reader or listener will be interested in learning the details that make you who you are. The details within your evidence should drive home the skill set and mindset needed for employment. As the reader passes from one piece of evidence to the next, they should receive a clear picture of the characteristics you offer them.

For a great example, check out Hannah's evidence demonstrating her Skill Set and Mindset from an internship experience.

The Hangout with Amy Sugar and Dr. James Zimmerman - Rollins College

Amy Sugar and Dr. James Zimmerman from Rollins College will be hanging out with us on Wednesday, June 17th at 12 Noon CT.  Amy is the Director of Instructional Design and Technology at Rollins, and James is an Associate Professor of Chemistry and directs the Christian A. Johnson Institute for Effective Teaching.


Rollins College is in the process of implementing a campus-wide ePortfolio initiative.  James has co-chaired a general education committee charged with the design, implementation, and assessment of Rollins’ new core curriculum – Rollins Foundation in the Liberal Arts.  In addition to this general education curriculum, several other programs (such as Teacher Education, Modern Languages, and English) have integrated ePortfolios within their courses.  Amy has played a key role in helping these programs implement ePortfolios to achieve their goals.

Visit Foliotek’s Google+ community to join us for this live hangout with Rollins College!  We are very excited to have Amy and James share their story.


Thanks to Jennifer Marcolongo from the Community College System of New Hampshire for hanging out with us yesterday!  If you missed the live hangout, take a few minutes to watch the recording below.


As the Online Programs Developer and Advisor for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education (AMPed NH), Jennifer advises students throughout their program and certification.  This includes supporting the students through etutoring, ementoring, and eportfolios across seven New Hampshire community colleges.

The use of eportfolios at CCSNH varies depending on the needs of each college.  A couple of colleges have embedded eportfolios into their curriculum for course, capstone, and/or program level portfolios.  Other colleges are using Foliotek primarily for career portfolios.  Students include artifacts such as blueprint drawings, videos of machine operation, and images of their projects.  Those portfolios are then used to help students reflect on their knowledge and experience and prepare them for job interviews.  Some students believe their eportfolio was a key reason they were hired because it gave them a way to provide evidence of their skills.

Getting to this level of eportfolio adoption has been a two year journey with several challenges:

1) Incorporating technology into manufacturing education

2) Seeing eportfolios as another way students can submit assignments and collaborate with one another

3) Supporting faculty through the process

To overcome these obstacles, Jennifer hosted several workshops, webinars and training sessions to educate faculty about eportfolios and their benefits.  Once faculty understood the eportfolio concept, they were very excited to begin implementing eportfolios for their students.

Be sure to watch the recorded hangout to hear more about CCSNH’s journey.  Also, mark your calendars for our next live hangout on June 17th with Rollins College!

The Hangout with Jennifer Marcolongo - CCSNH

Join us this Wednesday as we chat with Jennifer Marcolongo from the Community College System of New Hampshire.  Jenn is the Online Programs Developer and Advisor for the Advanced Manufacturing Partnerships in Education (AMPed NH), a consortium project across seven New Hampshire community colleges.

CCSNH Hangout
The use of ePortfolios at CCSNH ranges from career portfolios used for internship or job placement to course-based portfolios used for assignments and/or capstone projects.  Tune in on May 20th at 12 Noon CST to learn how CCSNH is implementing portfolios across multiple campuses and varying objectives.

To participate, go to our Google+ event page.  When the hangout starts, a link to the broadcast will be available.  If you aren’t able to catch the event live, we’ll post a link to the recorded version.