Open doors through SEM and SEO with a personal website that shows potential employers you will go the extra mile.
Career counselors and interview coaches preach the importance of having a personal branding strategy, advertising yourself and networking with your professional community. Those are wonderful tips. This is the digital age, and cut-and-paste hardcopies of your resume are not enough. It's time to dig out those online skills and put them to work building your personal brand through an online presence.
Why do I need a personal website?
There's a common saying in public relations and marketing – “There's no such thing as bad press.” While this isn't true, another truth is gained. Maximizing your exposure helps place you at the top of the game. Passing out resumes is okay, but websites open you to another world of job possibilities. Not convinced? Here are two great reasons to optimize your online presence with a personal website.
A website isn't static; it's dynamic. The online world changes constantly. Each time you have a life altering moment, you can add it to your online collections.
It's like Yellow Pages on steroids. Passing out paper resumes limits you to the people you come into contact with. Websites connect you with the world, and they continue building your personal brand 24-7.
What should I put on my website?
The simple answer is ANYTHING. However, there are a few areas that are must-haves. Think of your website as an advertiser you hired, not just an extension of your resume. Remember, websites are as long or short as you prefer, and there is no limit to content. Here are a few areas to include:
When building your personal brand, every personal website should have a home – or, About Me – page. Include a few paragraphs about yourself. This should be first person and casual. Pretend you are talking to the hiring manager. Tell them what you want them to know about you. Include a professional photo. It doesn't have to be black-tie. Just be sure it's not from your college partying days.
This is the most common mistake in personal website design. Many people just offer a link to their paper resume. Don't do that! Or, at least, don't let that be the only option. Use the standard sections in your resume, and copy-paste using a template. Many great templates are available online. Follow the same guidelines for a print resume. Most resumes include contact information. Don't include it on this page. There is a special section of your website for contacting you.
And this is the special section. Creating a contact page – much like the rest of a personal website and your personal branding strategy – is all about personal preference. Some like to include a contact form, while others include their information and a contact form. Either is fine. It is however not advisable to place your home address online. There are plenty of creepy people, and we don't want them knowing where you live. Here are a few rules to keep in mind:
Don't include home addresses.
If you include your phone number, list the days and hours you are available to talk.
Give them an email address or contact form to contact you.
DIY vs. Connect the Dots
Creating and hosting a website comes in several selections. For those who can write code, Do-it-Yourself (DIY) is the best option. This provides more custom-designed pages and a feel that is unique to you. Several hosting and domain name services exist. If possible, choose the yearly plan as it will save you money.
For those of us who think HTML, CSS, and JAVA are common slang terms used for texting, thank goodness, there are programs that are as easy as playing connect the dots. Wix, WordPress, and Tumblr are some of the most common website builders on the market. Each one provides pre-designed templates and easy-to-follow instructions. All include self-hosting; WordPress, and Tumblr are free, except for the domain names. Wix, depending on your preferred features, is freemium.
Creating a personal website is essential to the job search and building your personal brand. Adding yourself to Google's index opens doors through SEM and SEO. Having a personal website shows potential employers you are dedicated, creative, have unique skills, and will go the extra mile. Beginners should choose an easy, template-based platform at first. Once you get used to the different features and extensions, try learning a little code and extending your website. The personal branding strategy possibilities are endless.
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