Think about it: You're about to receive your hard-earned degree, or you've recently joined the ranks of diploma-toting alumni, and are now seeking your first professional position. Your resume is targeted and highlights your strong characteristics, skills and education.  Although you've sent it to all the usual places or directly to your prospective employers, the response has been zero, nada.

But a newly initiated social media platform, Portfolium, is helping qualified, diligent applicants who are seeking meaningful employment get noticed and hired, and is now available at no cost to all CSU students and alumni.

What's the secret? The ePortfolio network allows you to display your work visually – artwork, projects, papers, anything you created that you want future employers to see – before you get that all-important first interview.

Now entering its second year of a three-year partnership with the CSU, students and faculty alike are praising Portfolium for its unique social networking appeal, its user-friendly interface, its high level of accessibility and its acceptance by a growing number of companies and organizations. At the time of the launch last year, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren Blanchard said, "Portfolium represents another tool to help our students be successful while attending the university, as well as help them find jobs after they graduate. We also see this as another way to increase the opportunities for networking among our alumni."

Adam Markowitz, the creator of Portfolium, said the platform was developed to fill the entry-level skills gap with something called "evidence-based recruiting", which he views as the "true equalizer in connecting what students have learned with career opportunity" at scale. "Portfolium is a place where any student, regardless of their major, GPA, or alma mater, can showcase their accomplishments, work experience, scholastic achievements, community service and other activities in order to make hiring decisions easier for employers."

He said one of the biggest problems college graduates face is trying to get a job with little or no prior experience in the fields they are pursuing.  

"The irony here is that while students lack professional experience, they have no shortage of work samples, such as projects, papers, and presentations. Eighty-five years of research proves these work samples to be the number-one indicator of job performance – above GPA, major, and even endorsements. Portfolium provides every student with the ability to upload these work samples, which serve as the primary evidence of skills and competencies employers are looking for."

He also stated Portfolium is designed to match the evidence of skills in a student's portfolio with the job requirements employers are posting for specific internships and fulltime opportunities. The result is a marketplace where employers are able to find proven talent across the CSU system, even at universities or in majors where they weren't looking before.

It didn't take long for CSU students and alumni to gravitate to the new job-seeking network after it was rolled out onto some of the campuses last year. In fact, 65 percent of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students began building their portfolios within seven days of the launch.

According to Assistant Vice Chancellor of Advancement Services Lori Redfearn, CSU is the largest user of Portfolium with 170,000 active profiles and 750,000 skills demonstrated. She said 17 campuses already have launched the network and three more are scheduled. "Twelve campuses have integrated Portfolium into classroom learning with 267 faculty using the platform for this purpose."

Redfearn added that Portfolium is "working collaboratively with faculty to identify learning outcomes that are relevant to employers and creating a seamless means of digitally demonstrating those skills on portfolios."

What is relevant to employers is often subjective, and depends on factors that go beyond a specific skill set or educational emphasis. Portfolium gives CSU students and alumni a unique opportunity to better demonstrate their total intellectual and personality traits in a forum designed more for those without years of professional experience.   

One such user is Yi Xing (Flora) Chen, a photography major at Cal State Long Beach and Chinese immigrant, who says in her portfolio, "I often took to drawing to express what I often cannot communicate to others in words."

Another is Alexander Delzell, who is scheduled to earn a degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo next year. "I don't let my doubts dominate my mental discourse anymore, because there are things that I've accomplished that I can point to as irrefutable proof of my abilities."

Also a mechanical engineering major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cassidy Thompson writes, "I would love to be a part of a team that develops life-changing technology..."   While writing a research report on exoskeletons, she said it "opened my eyes to a whole other aspect of engineering ... and helped me realize my passion for teamwork and collaboration – skills that I will continue to pursue in my future."

On the employer side, the number of corporate and organizational participants is also increasing – at the moment, more than 50,000 recruiters have access to Portfolium's evidence-based recruiting product, TalentMatch. Among them are major firms, such as Sony, Intel, Electronic Arts, Facebook, Warner Brothers Entertainment, Hulu, Groupon, NIKE, and Cisco.

Portfolium allows applicants to apply directly to their job postings and use specific entries from their portfolio to enhance chances of being noticed among the other candidates. Even more unique to Portfolium and motivating for students is the fact that students are being recruited by employers on the platform simply by having desirable evidence of skills in their portfolios – without having to actively apply to job openings.

"You can write on a resume that you did an internship somewhere, but if I can see the projects that you worked on, it gives me a more rounded view of the candidate," says President of the Western U.S. region of Verizon Wireless Greg Haller. "For example, I might interview someone who spent time at an electrical engineering company, only to find out that the work experience had nothing to do with engineering.  A glance at an e-portfolio could have saved me the trouble."

"As I see countless new examples of greatness and ingenuity," says Markowitz. "I can't help but think that young people today offer us incredible hope – not just in growing our businesses and our economy, but also in solving some of our biggest social and environmental problems."