How to build a portfolio using work from work

Mar 24, 2017

Does anyone have any tips on displaying their  courses developed for work in a way that does not go against company non-disclosure policies?

Do you usually strip out that content? Blur it out? Use screen shots? Or do you have them sign a NDA?

I have only been in the field for a year so this is my first time doing this. 

11 Replies
Richard Watson


I just wrote a post on this topic matter as part of putting together a portfolio. In the U.S., most people are employed under a "work for hire" agreement. This basically means that everything you create as an employee belongs to the employer. While most employers are not out looking through contractor's portfolios in search of intellectual property theft, it you do get caught violating a prior work agreement, it can not only end up in a lawsuit but harm your reputation as well.

I'm sure you'll get a lot of different perspectives on this topic but mine is to do one of two things:

1. Create new things for your portfolio. The Challenges here provide a great opportunity to do so.

2. Reach out to your employer and ask for permission to use them.


David Tait

Building a portfolio is one of the most difficult things to do when all of the work you produce belongs to someone else. The amount of great stuff we've built over the years that we can't show anyone would fill our portfolio over and over.

Richard's suggestions are both great.

The ELH challenges are definitely a great source of inspiration. Maybe you could use functionality you've learned 'on the job' and combine this with the subjects provided in the challenges to create demos that belong to you.

Ashley Chiasson

I have a whole section on 'sanitizing your sample' in Build Your E-Learning Portfolio (a free mini-course). The basic idea is to take concepts you've used within a work context and apply them to non-work-related content. 

I did this in one of my first portfolio pieces, How to Bathe a Cat. I took concepts from a military project, and applied them to new content. It does seem super frustrating, because you've spent so much time and effort creating really cool learning experiences, but if you think outside the box a little, you can usually find a good middle ground that doesn't require you to recreate 100% of a sample.

Kristin Fiore

What I've found is that most employers want short samples, so a two-hour / 40-slide course (or whatever)  isn't desirable anyway.  Most want a 5-7 slide example of Storyline complex interactions (include variables, branching, hotspots, user input, animations, audio and video, etc). I'm applying for a university ID position now and they wanted a sample that's no more than 3 pages (ILT). It's easier to get a structure and point across, and include a much as possible in a short sample, if you make one from scratch. If you like certain elements from previous courses, of course include those!

Dave Ferguson

I've often fictionalized work done either as an in-house developer or as a consultant. What I try to do is highlight the aspects I think will be most relevant in a portfolio / demo context, and usually that's not the specifics of the project but the approach to conveying concepts, providing skill practice, delivering feedback, and so forth.

As a (non-elearning) example, I spent three years as chief designer on a massive training project where our team produced tremendous results. The client's overall business was "consumer packaged goods," and so for articles and presentations, I made up Caesar International and said they were North America's largest provider of socks, stockings, and hosiery -- products available through many different outlets in the same way as the client's actual product, which was cigarettes.

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