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How to Create a Standout Professional Portfolio for Community Managers

Learn what a Community Manager’s portfolio looks like, and how you can build yours to showcase your work and truly have a competitive advantage.
12 min read
Mar 22, 2023

Erik Martin

Guest Writer

A well-crafted portfolio lets your work do the talking.

It's an all-in-one place to document all the incredible interactions, relationships, and business outcomes you’ve helped to cultivate. But the work that goes into community-building can be challenging to put on paper. 

Carey Jordan, Customer Success Program Manager at Twilio, ran into this issue when trying to showcase her work. “I wanted to really be a step above what others in my industry were doing,” she says. “Showing a personality, being articulate in sound bites, and mapping out the results that I could give was something that always worked for me in winning clients and contracts in my consultancy work. So I applied the same methodology there to me — I treated myself like a product.” 

Carey built a portfolio that showed what she could offer, from testimonials to the business results she had achieved. “I took inspiration from successful websites I followed and services I used,” she adds. “I asked myself what made me gravitate toward them, and I used that to tell my story because my resume could only do so much.”

So what does a Community Manager’s portfolio look like, and how can you build yours to showcase your work and truly have a competitive advantage?

What is a portfolio?

A professional or work portfolio is a way to collect and share your best work that demonstrates your strengths, skills, and experience to current and potential employers, teammates, partners, and peers in the community field.

Although portfolios are more common and often required for job candidates in creative fields such as design, content, publishing, and architecture, they’re beneficial for all knowledge workers — including community professionals.

Why is a portfolio important for Community Managers?

Helps highlight your work while job hunting

Most job applications will require you to share your employment history (often in the form of a formal resume/CV) and share examples of your accomplishments or how you’ve handled certain situations in your career. But your best work might be in projects or initiatives outside the scope of the questions you’re asked.

A portfolio isn’t a substitute for a good CV, but it can give you the added opportunity to showcase all the things you’ve done over and above what the job application asked for. It also doesn’t hurt your chances of getting noticed by recruiters and hiring managers — a 2021 study found that 75% of employers say that candidate portfolios are useful in the hiring process.

Builds your professional reputation in the industry 

A portfolio isn’t just for job seekers. Folks who are happy in their jobs can also benefit from having a regularly updated portfolio so their peers and industry leaders can see the amazing work they’ve done. It can elevate your professional profile and make a lasting impression on potential collaborators.

👉Pro tip: Don’t hide away your portfolio only to dust it off when you’re looking for work. Share portions of it on social media and, when it’s relevant — such as when someone has a challenge or question you can help with from experience — in Communities of Practice you may be a member of.

Sharing specific examples of the work you’ve done shows not only your experience and results but also your willingness to share your knowledge with others.

Allows you to introspect 

Forget about potential employers and building your brand — this one’s just for you. Having a portfolio that you update regularly gives you the space to reflect on and appreciate all the incredible work you’ve done and the things you’ve helped create! 

It can help you become a better community builder by promoting continuous learning where, as your career progresses, you can ask yourself questions like:

  1. What did I do well? You can list all your achievements and look back on your wins. 
  2. How does this show my progress as a community professional? This is a chance to look back at where you’ve come from and mark your progress.
  3. How have I grown since then? Detail your markers of growth. This can include lessons learned and new ways of solving challenges.

It’s also a great confidence boost on those days when imposter syndrome might kick in.

What goes in a portfolio?

There’s no right or wrong way to craft your portfolio, and it all depends on the type of work you’ve done and the experience you want to highlight. Your portfolio can often contain many of the following elements:

  • A brief bio
  • Examples of projects you’ve contributed to
  • Samples of your written or visual work
  • Links to interviews, news articles about you or projects you worked on, other media appearances, and content you've written
  • Recommendations and testimonials or quotes about your work
  • A list of skills, tools, and areas of focus
  • Your resume/CV links to social profiles, email, and other contact info

You also have options in the format you choose to present your work.

Case study

Writing a case study allows you to really dig into what you did for the community and how you did it. Case studies usually contain a brief background on the company or community for context, the challenge the community faced (or the goal of the program), the solution you came up with, and the results. They let you share your process, so people reading them understand not just the end result but also how you work.

Before and after

A picture is worth a thousand words, and sharing a ‘before’ and ‘after’ snapshot is a great visual way to show your impact on a project that was already in play. You can share screenshots of what it looked like then vs. what it looks like now so people can see the changes for themselves.

👉 Actionable Tip: You can let your images do the talking while also making it easier for the reader to understand the outcome with a few precise (and concise) bullet points.

Listicle

Listicles let you show your personality and sense of humor while sharing things you’d like someone to know. They can be especially helpful for folks pivoting into community building from another industry. You can use a listicle to showcase your transferable skills — all the great things you bring to the table that only someone with your background in that previous profession can bring.

7 tips for creating a portfolio

1. Select the best projects and achievements for your portfolio

When putting together a portfolio, it's easy to get carried away and want to include every single project you've worked on. But it can be more impactful to be strategic about which ones you showcase to best demonstrate your abilities without overwhelming the reader.

Let’s face it, people have limited attention spans, so choose projects where you can show a tangible positive impact, giving evidence of your skills and expertise while keeping things focused and concise. As Max Pete, Community Lead at SuperHi, points out, you don't want to have a million case studies that nobody's going to read. “In my experience creating portfolios for my design freelance business, people like to see everything that you're doing at a glance,” says Max. “So in my portfolio, I just highlighted very specific, high-level stuff that I've worked on that's not super complicated either.”

Another thing to keep in mind is that you can include projects where you were a contributor, not just the leader. Just be sure to mention your role in the project and your specific contributions.

If you're sharing a Google Slides or PDF document, you can always customize your portfolio for each job application to include projects that demonstrate the specific skills it requires, such as community strategy or leadership.

2. Demonstrate what you’re capable of — even if you don’t have much experience

For early career community builders or folks looking to pivot, it can be tough to know where to start. One great way to show experience and build your portfolio is by including volunteer work or your time spent working on side projects. Not only does this give you practical experience to share, but it also shows potential employers that you're passionate about community building and are willing to put in the work to make a difference.

Another way to gain experience and showcase your skills is by doing a teardown of something from another community. For example, you could analyze an onboarding experience and share what you liked about it, as well as some ways you might improve it. This not only demonstrates your critical thinking skills but also shows that you're up to date on current best practices in the field.

You might be tempted to critique or share gaps and opportunities in the company you’re applying for. While it may seem like a good way to show your expertise and impress the hiring manager, it's a high-risk move because you may not have all the necessary context or information. Instead, consider looking at competitors and bringing insight or information to the company. This way, you can still demonstrate your knowledge and add value without taking unnecessary risks.

3. Find creative ways to showcase proprietary work that’s not public to share

When it comes to showcasing your work, it can be tricky if you’ve signed an NDA or worked in a private or closed community. However, there are some workarounds you can use to demonstrate your skills without disclosing any confidential information. 

Max shares some ideas:

General overview with an option for more information

When presenting your work, give a general overview of your experience and skills, but avoid providing specific details of what you’ve worked on. 

👉 Pro tip: Include a request for more information, giving people the option to reach out to you if they want to know more. This approach allows you to touch upon the community you’ve been a part of without disclosing any sensitive information.

Create a mock community

If you can’t disclose any details about your previous work, one workaround is to create a mock community and use some examples of the work that you’ve done in the real community to showcase your skills. This way, you can showcase your work without tying it to a real community that you can’t share details about.

It’s definitely trickier in these situations, Max says. “But if you can at least talk a little bit about it in a general sense and then have an option for people to reach out if they want to know more, then maybe that can lead to conversations that are more one-on-one,” he says.

4. Make it easy to scan

Nobody wants to read a wall of text. Use shorter paragraphs or bullet points, and balance the amount of text you include with white space and images or graphs/charts to make your portfolio easy for someone to scan.

Don't forget to check your portfolio on both your phone and computer to make sure it's easy to read on either device. 

5. Be strategic about when you share the portfolio during a job search

If you're applying to a community job at a big company, you’ll be lucky if the hiring manager spends 10 seconds on your resume. They probably won’t make the time to go through a portfolio as well. Instead, try waiting until you're further along in the interview process and have a chance to chat directly with the interviewer. That way, you can email your portfolio straight to them and have a better chance of it actually being seen.

If you're applying to a smaller company with around 50 employees, then by all means, include it with your application! Smaller companies might have a more personal touch when it comes to hiring, and they could be really interested in seeing what you've got. 

6. Keep it up to date

It’s easy to get caught up with work and lose track of your portfolio, so do your future self a favor — put time on your calendar each month to document your work. You can do this in the form of a brag book and/or update your portfolio directly. Either way, make sure you document your accomplishments!

7. Pick a platform you’re comfortable with

There are endless variations and platforms you can use, but the main functional types are:

  • A PDF (or another static file) that can be attached or linked to an email
  • An online mini-site/page (often on platforms like Notion, Linktree, or even Google slides)
  • A full website on your domain with multiple pages

Whichever option you pick, make sure it’s something you’re comfortable with.

Max uses Notion as his main platform. He says it has a learning curve, but it’s a platform he finds easy to update. “My portfolio is ever-evolving. You're going to be updating your work and experiences a lot throughout your career, so I decided to stick with a platform that I was able to do that in,” he says.

What are good platforms to create a portfolio on?

There are so many options out there to choose from for creating your portfolio, and we’re sharing a few that we’ve seen work well for portfolios. All of these tools have free or trial tiers, but you may need to pay for more advanced features.

Notion: An all-in-one workspace application that allows users to create, organize, and share notes, tasks, databases, and more

Examples of portfolios built on Notion:

Canva: An online graphic design platform that allows users to create a wide range of visual content, including social media posts, presentations, posters, flyers, infographics, and more.

Examples of portfolios built on Canva:

Webflow:  Software to design, build, and launch powerful websites visually without coding.

Examples of portfolios built on Webflow:

Journey.io: Traditionally used for sales and community onboarding but can be used for job seekers, especially to customize, send out, and track versions. There are lots of stats and insights available on a per-version basis. Here’s an example of a Journey we made to help jobseekers.

Other tools include:

Contra, Journo Portfolio, Clippings, Fabrik, Pixpa, Dunked, Portfolio Box, Format

Let’s help each other build our dream portfolios! 

It's important to have a portfolio of our work, but creating and updating a portfolio can be hard. At our first event, Crafting a Portfolio to Showcase Your Work as a Community Pro, we learned together and discovered the why and how of building a portfolio as a Community Manager.

Missed our first event? You can catch up below. 

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