You’ve taken the time to write an award-winning resume and cover letter. Your social media profiles are looking snazzy and up to date. You’ve even organized your home office should you have a video interview with a potential employer. In short, you feel like you pretty much have this job search process down pat. But what about a personal website? This is an often forgotten item that could boost your job search success.
In today’s competitive job market, job seekers need to do anything and everything in order to set themselves apart from the competition, and having a personal website is one of the best ways to do just that.
The good news is, a personal website for job seekers isn’t industry-specific. Anyone from any career field can (and should) have a site that helps give potential employers a better glimpse into who they are as potential job candidates—and why they should be hired.
What Is a Personal Website?
Also known as a website portfolio, a personal website is an additional source that you can use to demonstrate your achievements, work history, and personal interests—all of which will ultimately help you stand out from your competition.
A personal website for job seekers can be especially beneficial for those working in creative fields. It can serve as an alternative resume that showcases direct examples of your creative talents, such as writing, photography, videography, or graphic design.
That said, anyone with a work history they’d like to show off should consider a website portfolio. Specifically, professionals whose work can be easily showcased online are great matches for personal websites, including:
- Writers and journalists
- Artists, actors, musicians, performers
- Designers (interior, web, graphic, fashion, etc.)
- Advertisers and marketers
- Teachers, professors, tutors, translators
- Scientists and researchers
- Real estate professionals
- Sports and fitness professionals
Even if your profession doesn’t easily translate into a portfolio, you can use a personal website to show off your resume with a little more pizazz than a typical document allows.
Fortunately, a personal website is easy to create and shouldn’t come with a hefty price. In fact, a plethora of free services are available with user-friendly platforms that allow you to simply drag and drop a variety of cool features into a pre-designed template.
How to Create a Personal Website
Most platforms (like Wix, Squarespace, WordPress, and Behance) will allow you to upload PDF files, documents, URLs, videos, photos, and other miscellaneous content you wish to display. Digital portfolio templates make it easy to find a ready-made design that matches your own personal style, but if DIY isn’t your thing, you can hire a designer or freelance developer to make it for you.
No matter which route you take to get your personal website off the ground, it should have several essential sections that, together, paint a detailed picture of who you are and what you have to offer.
You can leverage this page to discuss your professional background, personal interests, and primary skills. Try to keep it under 200 words by offering immediate insight about your strengths, general work history, and ambitions.
Start with one page for now. As you learn to master the art of digital portfolio creation, you can start adding links to a variety of categorized work samples, including published articles, design pieces, videos, academic projects, and whatever else you’d like to showcase.
This should be complete with your email address and social media accounts, including a link to your LinkedIn profile (if applicable). The more connected you are, the better. Most platforms provide contact forms and/or a pre-designed contact page, so it’s simply a matter of keeping your personal information up to date. As always, use your discretion when adding personal contact info—a standalone email address should work fine.
It’s good to include a brief overview of your resume on your personal website. You don’t want to copy it word for word—after all, your application materials will already include your resume in its entirety. Just display the highlights so the hiring manager can get a quick all-in-one glance of your skills and experience.
If you have testimonials, your personal website is the perfect place to display quotes from previous clients about how great you are to work with. That way, hiring managers not only get to see samples of your wonderful work, they also get to know your working style and collaboration skills from the perspective of those you’ve worked for. Don’t have any quotes yet? Reach out to previous employers and ask for their (positive) feedback.
Hobbies & Personal Interests
Here’s where you can boast your creative talents outside of work. While the space in your resume is generally restricted to your career progression and professional achievements, a digital portfolio awards you the freedom to publicly display your interests and passions. Whether you wish to share your photography, poetry, online blog samples, or photos of your home garden, you are no longer confined to a space-restricted document.
Keep in mind that a main goal with a personal website is to not be too far-reaching or overbearing. Just as you don’t want to overwhelm the reader by cramming too much information into your resume, you should try to limit your digital portfolio to your best and proudest work.
Benefits of a Website Portfolio
Including a personal website with your application materials may be just what you need to stand out from the crowd and get noticed. Here’s how.
It Helps Control What Employers See
What do you want employers to know about you? A personal website is a blank canvas that allows you to showcase your personality, causes you care about, and hobbies outside of work. If executed properly, it should also show up high in search results when somebody Googles your name. This helps ensure that any “clutter” isn’t in the limelight.
It Gives an Employer an Idea of Who You Really Are
Yes, your resume and CV cover all the major aspects of your career, but there’s only so much space on those precious pages to get across who you really are. A website portfolio gives you all the space you need (and then some) to wax on about your professional accomplishments without worrying about going over the one-page maximum!
You can provide more details about your accomplishments and also give each award and accolade the spotlight they deserve. Plus, it also gives you the opportunity to show off some of your personality, which can be a hard thing to achieve on a traditional job application.
It Shows That You Care About Your Career
Yes, anybody can click and apply for a position, but not everyone will take the time to create a website portfolio that looks both professional and polished. By having a personal website, the image you are projecting to hiring managers is that you are a hard worker who is taking the time and effort to invest in your career—and that dedication can be enticing to a potential employer.
4 Website Portfolio Best Practices
The good news is that most employers appreciate and value a personal website for job seekers as part of the application process. Research indicates that 86% of employers will visit a website portfolio site if given the option in application materials. And, 71% say that the quality of the website portfolio will influence their hiring decision.
So, how do you make sure you’re delivering the quality they’re looking for? These portfolio best practices can help your personal website rise to the top.
1. Choose Your Strongest Work
Not just any sample will do! Pick your best samples that represent your core strengths. Make sure they are newer than five years old, lead with your best, and tailor them to the employer you are applying for.
2. Caption Your Samples
A short caption or description of each sample adds context to your website portfolio. Include the client, the goal of the project, and key metrics or results.
3. Make User Experience a Top Priority
Keep your personal website clean and uncluttered, and lead with samples that are industry-specific so employers can get right to the heart of your work without having to do a lot of clicking and searching.
4. Test and Test Again
The last thing you want is for an employer to get frustrated while viewing your website portfolio. Make sure it works on all browsers, check that images are loading correctly, proofread for any typos, and double check the navigation.
5. Showcase Your Personal Brand
For a consistent, streamlined experience, choose a personal website that matches your resume and application materials and is in line with what you want your personal brand to convey. Figure out your end goal, and work backwards to determine the ideal layout and design.
Gain a Competitive Advantage With Your Personal Website
For more advice and tips on how to optimize your job search, check out the FlexJobs blog. And if you’re ready to showcase your portfolio to help land a job, FlexJobs can connect you to great employers. We have flexible jobs from trusted companies in more than 50 career categories. Tour our platform today and learn how FlexJobs can power your job search.
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