So you’ve just put the finishing touches on a polished resume and cover letter. But you’re not sure if it’s enough to stand out of the crowd. If you’re looking for a career in many of today’s technology-driven fields, or want a creative way to get ahead of your competition, developing a personal website may be a valuable asset in your job search. It enables you to highlight your various skills and showcase examples of any previous work that may be relevant to recruiters. It also can give a hiring manager a better gauge of who you are as a person and convey your persona far more effectively than a resume or cover letter. Also, the moment you turn in that resume to a recruiter, it's unchangeable. Websites, on the other hand, are dynamic; they enable you to regularly update new information on the go.
Follow these 7 steps to create your own personal website
Choose a Platform
It’s not necessary to have web design experience to build an attractive and intuitive personal website. Building the actual site itself may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually extremely easy using today’s online platforms including Google Sites, WordPress, and Squarespace. These platforms provide you with templates for your pages and you essentially just fill in the blanks. These sites vary in initial cost and hosting fees.
Buy a Domain
While some of these online resources allow you to create a personal site and host it for you, the web address will often be something like https://blank.company.com/blank/yourusername. Instead of adding that mouthful to your resume, consider paying for a personal domain name. If your name is unique, see if it's available as a .com domain extension by utilizing a site like GoDaddy. If it’s not available, consider incorporating your middle initial or occupation into the address. Although there are other domain extensions available (.net,.work, etc.), a .com extension conveys the most trust to the end user. Potential employers will be more likely to click on a .com extension and remember the web address later.
Craft Your Image
Your mission is to advertise your skills and experience and communicate your worth to potential employers. You can add any pages that you think are important. Here are some example pages you may want to add to your site:
Introduction page: Sum up your value proposition. Limit it to a few paragraphs that define your unique talents. Include your elevator pitch, not your life story.
Resume Page: It’s a good idea to provide your resume in multiple formats (PDF, DOCX, ASCII) on the site to help recruiters easily process it through their own software.
Portfolio page: Showcase a few examples of previous work that employers may find relevant. If you’re not showcasing documents that can be easily attached, consider taking photos of your work.
Skills page: Specifically highlight any certifications, software expertise, or other applicable qualifications
SWOT Analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Testimonials page: Ask a few previous co-workers or ex-bosses to write a quick paragraph or two about your strengths.
What's right for you depends largely on the field you're in and how much information you wish to convey to potential employers. You may also want to add media to your site. A headshot helps, but what about a video? If you’re handy with a camera and editing software, one option is to add a video interview to keep the viewer engaged and interested while conveying your carefully crafted professional image. If you decide to create a video, keep it short and sweet and focus on your professional background.
Be Smart About Your Privacy
It’s important to omit certain identifiable information on both your online resume and your site in general. You will need to keep an active email address on the site as this is the preferred method of communication for most employers. But you will probably want to exclude your physical address and personal phone number to avoid any unwanted contact from third parties. If you still want a phone number listed on the site, you can sign up for a free Google Voice number. This service can help you route calls to a separate line that you can easily control.
Make It Clean
Make the website easily navigable and have contact information and a link to your resume directly on your homepage or on a clearly accessible link. If you're still putting the finishing touches on the site or not yet comfortable with its overall design or content, don't add a link to it in your resume just yet. If a recruiter takes the time to visit your site only to find links that don't load correctly or take them to temporary "Under Construction" pages, it certainly won't help your cause.
Keep It Relevant
Hiring managers and recruiters will typically glance over your website just as they would your resume. You want to keep their interest in a clear and succinct way. Although you have freedom conveying your personal identity by utilizing a personal website, you still need to balance that with the need to keep the content relevant to your audience. Focus on the skills and experience you have in the field; stay away from just listing personality traits.
Analyze Your Traffic
This step is optional, but if you’re tech-savvy and want to find out more information on the number of people visiting your site and their demographics, you can analyze this data using Google Analytics. There is a learning curve to this software but it can provide you with free access to vital data. Using Google Analytics, it’s possible to see which specific pages users tend to visit on your site and the last page viewed before they exit. This can help you determine which pages are problematic for your users and adjust accordingly. You can also find out which pages users tend to spend the most time viewing and the pages that are often ignored. Google Analytics provides other interesting demographic data about your audience that you may want to explore.
Creating a personal website can help you differentiate yourself from your competition and help recruiters identify your personal brand. Whether you decide to keep it to a single webpage or create a full immersive site, there’s no denying the value it can add during your job hunt.