The Skinny on the Whys and Hows of Having a Personal Website for the Job Hunt

A job search or career change is often on the docket for people in the New Year. We’re rejuvenated from some time off perhaps, or maybe the spirit of starting a New Year propels us to make that change we’ve been saying we were going to make for awhile.  Now that that’s decided (kudos!) it’s time to get down to business and increasingly, that 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 in the 90s!

Hold on, sparky, 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 with my follow up. My point is, having a personal website can do nothing but set you apart from the dozens and sometimes hundreds of applications that come through. If you think, “People in my field don’t typically have online sites” or “that’s not typical of my industry” then you are precisely the person I’m talking to- someone who should definitely consider this route.

Control: You can control your personal brand on a website. This is 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 (ie my previous career, which is still a part of my resume because some skills overlap).

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!

Organization: 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.

Change The Dynamic of the Job Hunt: You can look at having an online website to showcase your professional wares as changing the whole 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! (WHAT!) With an HTML5 drag-and-drop-website editor, designer-made templates and more, you get the tools to launch and manage your online presence. Wix has a great support team and so so many amazing pre-coded templates you can choose from.  I’ve seen some pretty rad sites made using Wix. (You can learn how to make your own by clicking here.)

If you’re more 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. I work closely with Rayna Hennen, an NYC-based web designer who has been making kick butt web designs for years. When I was talking to Rayna about this whole concept of personal-website-as-job-seeking-tool, she said something that really struck me. She said,

“When a designer looks at your content –  your accomplishments, experiences and work – it’s completely fresh and there are no attachments to it. It’s all new to her so she might see connections or strong points to emphasize that aren’t obvious to you and help you organize it in a way you wouldn’t have thought of.” Bravo, for amazing, non-biased, outside opinions!

So, now that you’ve taken the plunge and decided to create a site, what should you actually put on it? I’ll cover that next week here on the blog. Stay tuned!

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