If you are starting a job search, there is one great way to stand out from the crowd.
It entails creating an online personal website that showcases your professional experience and skills.
Wait, what? You want me to build a WEBSITE?! But I only took Computer Science for beginners in the 9th grade!
Hold on, we’ll get there. Let’s first start with the why-you-should-consider-its and the who-should-consider-its before we jump into learning c++ (hint: you won’t need to learn c++, or any other computer language for that matter).
So, why should you consider going this route for your job search?
- A Way To Stand Out: How often have you said (or heard friends say) that you send in a resume and application, only to never hear from anyone ever again? I remember applying for a finance conference production role (check), for someone who knows Spanish (check) and who could navigate around South America (ding ding ding ding ding!) In other words, I was the ideal candidate, and no one called me ever, even after I followed up. My point is, having a personal website can do nothing but set you apart from the dozens and sometimes hundreds of applications hiring managers see. If you’re thinking that people in your field don’t typically have sites, then you are precisely the person I’m talking to–someone who should definitely consider this route.
- A Way to Gain Control: You can develop your personal brand on a website. This is particularly critical when shifting careers. Your resume is a great way of showcasing past experiences and skills, some of which might be great for the new career, but it isn’t a great way to portray Future You in your new career. Keep in mind that you want the prospective employer to be able to see you doing the new career, which is why a personal website allows you to control the message. For example, if I wanted to be hired as a coach at a company, I’d want my personal site to reflect what I can do as a career coach, not that I’m able to research complex financial topics and create successful conferences around them (which was my previous career, and which I do cover on my resume because some skills overlap).
- A Way to Highlight Your Personality: A personal website is also a great way to show some of your personality and what kind of person you are to work with, which employers are increasingly looking at in this competitive job market. Don’t underestimate the power of that!
- A Way to Get More Organized: Having this website is a great way to keep all your professional items in one place- resume, portfolio, etc. It’s also a great tool for backup in case something happens to your hard drive, heaven forbid.
- A Way to Change The Dynamic: You can look at having an online website as shaking up the dynamic of your job hunt. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of that exhausting process of reaching out to recruiters and employers only to have your application go into the ether, people are finding YOU! Of course, I’m not one for false advertising- this takes work up front and maintenance throughout of your site, but with the right keywords and sharing it in the right groups or on the right networks, it’s very likely recruiters and employers who wouldn’t normally find you now will.
So, HOW do you go about starting a personal website? If you’re like me, with no coding experience, don’t fear. There are many options. Wix enables people to build a free and professional online presence- no coding experience necessary! You can also build sites pretty easily with Squarespace or on wordpress.com, which has some free basic templates to get you started.
If you want to be totally hands off, another route to take is to hire a web designer. The upside to this is that you can wave a magic wand (kind of) and get a customized site, and you don’t have to do a lick of web design work. An interesting and overlooked aspect of working with a professional designer is that when they look at the content you provide them–your accomplishments, experiences and work – they have a fresh perspective and may see connections or strong points to emphasize that you might not. And might catch the eye of a hiring manager.