To compete for your dream job, you have to not only meet the desired qualifications but also distinctly stand out from other applicants. An often recommended strategy for differentiation is to bring your skills to life – don’t just write about them in your resume. A personal website, or portfolio website, can be a game changing tool to add dimension and “proof of expertise” for certain professions. Here are some tips to help you stand out with an effective personal website when job seeking.
1. Determine if a Website Is Useful or Expected in Your Field
If your desired role is to create or work on products and services that are visible or could be shown in a portfolio, a website is likely beneficial and may even be expected. Some specific professions in which job seekers may want to have a website include design, fashion, TV and film, content and writing, public relations, branding, marketing, architecture, some civil and mechanical engineers, technology (UX/UI, gaming, developers) and consulting professionals wanting to display their previous projects, clients and successes.
If you are in sales, customer success, accounting, law, customer service, operations and many other roles, your resume and LinkedIn profile are sufficient – unless part of your desired role includes creating or managing a website. It’s not that a well-done site will harm you, but most recruiters will not spend time to review it and/or will not see you as being more qualified because you built one.
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2. Compose a Compelling Intro Statement
You have directed a hiring professional to this site; make sure you make it worth their time with an enticing welcome. The intro should be short, usually three to seven lines that describe who you are, the value you can bring and possibly your target opportunity.
For example: “Hi – I’m Robin. I connect talented professionals to ideal career opportunities. I advise on and create success strategies around the job market, hiring trends and career development as a career strategist, recruiter, and careers writer for usnews.com. I am personally attached to each of my client’s outcomes, and I strive to make the stressful process of career transition manageable and actionable whether you are a reader, an individual coaching client or a manager wanting to add the right hire to your team. If you are looking for a 360-degree perspective on hiring or want a results-focused career advisor in your corner, I would love to discuss your goals to determine if I can help.”
3. Determine Your Website Builder Tool
There is a range of simple to sophisticated solutions for creating a personal website. Wix, Squarespace, Site123, Zyro and WordPress are some of the most popular websites. For programmers, GitHub is often used. Typical prices range from free to $200 per month depending on the features, complexity and design elements that are ideal for you.
A great starting place is to ask peers, classmates or industry professionals what their favorites are and why. Also, look at other user reviews to be sure you are getting the features and services you require. For example, are you looking for visually stunning templates, the ability to make edits, customization, SEO settings or messaging? Once you have gotten a few recommendations and checked reviews regarding your preferred features, you are ready to build.
4. Content Is Key
Once you have added your intro along with a compelling picture – of you or another image that reinforces your professional brand – now you are ready to add content. When looking for a new role, it is helpful to both capture what you do, how and with and for whom. For example, as a writer, I could include a list of my articles with links and related images. But I could also include some narrative around how I got the assignment, the target audience, topic and even results.
If you have done project work, include the names of the companies if not prohibited by a confidentiality agreement or descriptions of the company’s challenge that you addressed with your work. Don’t miss an opportunity to include if you completed the work faster, better, or more cost effectively than expected as well as any quantifiable results, when relevant.
5. Make It Yours
By design, many of the sites have templates for simplicity. While templates make it easy to use, they also lead to sites looking similar. Review your site to identify ways to infuse your personality within your portfolio website. The goal is professional distinction. Ask yourself (or a respected friend or two) if it looks and feels like the best version of you. And of course, the best way to make it yours is to make sure your correct contact information is easily accessible.
6. Consider These Finishing Touches
Create a custom, professional domain name to make it easy to find your site. Ensure functionality by navigating every page. Once you have reviewed it, ask your friends to do so using different browsers. While looking at functionality, also review content with a fine-toothed comb. Typos, poor grammar, run-on-sentences, unnecessary slang or swearing, etc. is bad. If the site is for professional endeavors, treat it as such.
In summary, creating a website to display your expertise can be a powerful way to add to your credentials. By taking the time to develop a professional website or online portfolio, you are adding dimension to your qualifications as well showing the quality of your work with a well-run and impeccable site.