In this modern age where social networks and employment sites abound, is having a personal website still useful when you're in the midst of a job search?
It absolutely can, especially if you are seeking a position that involves Web technologies. Having a website means that you have a place you can present your personal brand, experience, showcase your portfolio, and share testimonials from previous employers and coworkers in an environment that you have total control over.
In this article, we will take a look at some of the reasons a website may (or may not) help you land your next job.
This can also help you stand out from other applications. Jacquelyn Smith, a writer for Forbes elaborated on this point in her 2013 piece on the importance of having a personal website. She cited an internal study by Workfolio that indicated, "56% of all hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool—however, only 7% of job seekers actually have a personal website."
You also need to make sure your site is easy to find. Link it to your Facebook, Twitter, and especially your LinkedIn profiles. A study titled Social Networking Websites and Recruiting/Selection from the Society for Human Resource Management indicated that as much as 77% of all organizations are actively using social media for recruiting.
A 2012 survey from Jobvite found that 93 percent of job recruiters tap into LinkedIn to find qualified candidates.
This doesn't just apply after you have submitted an application and/or sent in your resume. Recruiters are always on the search for the perfect person to fill positions. Having your name on the Web in as many places as possible increases the odds that someone might find you, and make you a great job offer.
If your site is well made and frequently updated, it can easily become a showcase of who you are and what your future employer can expect from you.
This can work to your clear advantage if you have a good, clean website for a potential employer to find.
If your site is outdated, difficult to read, including content that isn't professional or appropriate, or otherwise unappealing to the employer, it can work against you.
Your site may not be the first thing potential employers find, but it can be the big impression that they learn the most about you from.
Make sure that you link to your site in your cover letter, and in any email correspondence with the employer. It will make it easier for them to find it rather than starting their research on Facebook or LinkedIn, ensuring that it is the most likely first impression they receive.
If you are a web developer, designer, or in any other field that includes a creative product, you should showcase your work on your site. This is a big plus for employers as it will give them a quick and easy way to see just how good you are, and why they should hire you.
Job sites and social networks are great, but they can be very limiting. Often, they restrict just how much you can showcase on your profile, or take the things you want to showcase the most and shoves them in the background. Your personal website won't do this, because it's entirely in your control.
Your portfolio can be easily accessed and presented in a way that best reflects your work.
This can backfire on you if your portfolio is very thin, or doesn't accurately reflect your skill.
Before you showcase what you have done, you can build some demo examples of what you can do, if only to put your best face forward and avoid being judged on the work a client asked for, instead of what you would actually like to have done.
It is a lot easier to remember someone if you know a little more about them. To an employer, a dozen resumes is just that. It's plain, impersonal, and unremarkable.
Your website affords you the opportunity to introduce yourself, and give the employer a chance to learn something about you. Most employers are looking for someone that isn't just capable of doing the job, but being someone they would actually like to work with.
A professional photo, an About Me page, and other small touches like this can give your resume a face and personality that otherwise wouldn't be possible.
You have be careful here, though. Personal expression is great, and some of the best employers out there encourage open expression, but you don't want to say anything on your site you wouldn't readily repeat in an in-person interview.
Sharing your love for gardening and passion for skydiving is fine. Long, profanity-filled rants about everything and anything that gets on your nerves, not so much.
Your website should work for you. With a little work, and some due diligence, you can turn it into an exceptional tool for personal branding that will make you stand out during your next job search.
If you're looking for a good comprehensive guide to help you get started with a new website, especially if you have never created one before, here is a guide with some tips. We have also written some of our own useful guides, including how to generate more traffic, in this blog.