Plunging Into Personal Websites: Do’s, Don’ts, and General Guidance
I can still recall the feeling of accomplishment the day I completed my first resume. It was similar to what I imagine Sir Edmund Hillary felt when reaching the top of Everest. I was done! I might as well have carved it into stone. Then reality struck me across the face, just like the northerly winds at the top of the world must have done to Sir Hillary. Life is not static, and neither are our resumes.
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While the basic structure of a resume has remained relatively constant, modern job seekers are branching out. I’ve written about the need to keep online profiles such as LinkedIn up-to-date, and sometimes even video resumes are a good option. And there’s another way to stay competitive while showing that you’re digitally savvy: personal websites.
The key to getting the most out of a personal website is to understand what recruiters want to see — and to avoid those things that cause them to close out of your tab upon first glance. Ready to get started? Let’s begin by walking through some good goals for your personal website.
- Define Your Brand. Just as with the resume, recruiters are looking to gain insight into who you are and what you have to offer to their organizations. Consider it this way: What do you think of when you see a pair of Nikes? Likely you instantly associate the brand with athletics, fitness … possibly the very definition of sports. Your brand should be personal and factual, a snapshot of what employers can expect of you. Do not create an aura or character that reflects what you hope to become. Instead, your brand should reflect the qualities that make you a unique asset.
- Keep It Simple. Technology has a marvelous way of making our lives easier … and then pushing the envelope just a bit too far. Think back to the advent of the PowerPoint. It revolutionized the way presentations were conducted, and then came the day when you sat through the 200-slide presentation with words and sentences spiraling, fading, and blinking their way onto every page. Not so effective anymore, was it? Just like in your paper resume, try to remain succinct and on target. While the bandwidth exists to display every example of work you’ve ever completed, focus on your best work. Showcase your accolades to the recruiter, rather than inundating them with an overwhelming number of samples. Websites are visual, but focus on presenting content rather than flooding your audience with pictures. Similarly, the pictures you use shouldn’t be selfies and stock photos. Think about how you’d like to be seen professionally.
- Let the Glue Dry. Yes, you want to make sure your resume, online profiles, and personal websites are dynamic and remain current, but landing on a page that remains “under construction” is a huge turn off. Not only is this likely to end any visit to your site quickly, it also greatly increases the chance that there will be no return by a recruiter. If you’re going to build a personal website, make sure you see it all the way through!
Now that we’ve thought a bit about what should and shouldn’t be part of a personal website, here are some quick tips to get started. As with most things today, you do not need to be a professional programmer to create a brilliant website. There are many different services that allow even amateurs to create technical works of art. Here are a few that you may want to consider:
- Weebly. If you’re looking for an all-out website, Weebly is a good option. With a plethora of templates and themes to choose from, the output looks great on both traditional and mobile screens. Another feature that makes Weebly notable is their enhanced focus on photo and video. And, if you’re coupling your personal website with your hobby career or even moonlighting, they’re also able to support e-commerce.
- Squarespace. Another source for comprehensive websites, Squarespace is perfect for those to whom “code” is a foreign word. Their GUI is simple to use and allows for easy drag and drop editing. Best of all, the first two weeks are free!
- About.me. If a clean, straightforward landing page is your goal, look no further than About.me. Not only is this one of the quickest ways to establish your personal website presence, the simple, single photo platform can become a great professional supplement beyond your resume.
- Vizualize.me. Sometimes it’s good to try new things, and Visualize.me gives credence to this. Take your resume and transform it into a striking infographic representing your works. A single glance creates a total picture of who you are and your accomplishments.
Personal websites are not a requirement in today’s job market, but more and more recruiters and hiring managers are looking beyond the stack of resumes to gain additional insight into the candidates they’re considering. When you’re ready to add a bit more flavor and create your personal website, use this guide to ensure the end product drives the results you want. On the quest toward that dream job, remember what Sir Hillary preached: “It is not the mountain that we conquer, but ourselves.” Now, start climbing!
Michelle Kruse has more than 10 years of hiring and recruiting experience and a background in coaching and leadership development. At ResumeEdge, Michelle recruits and hires resume writers, provides training and ongoing support, manages strategic partnerships, and serves as a subject matter expert on the job search process.
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