Do you need to build a personal website to land a job?
In some industries, it may help give you an edge, but in others you may be just as good without one.
Technology is changing the way people look for jobs — and how recruiters look for and evaluate candidates. Even if you have a publicly available resume or profile online and a strong social media presence, a personal website may give you an edge in this competitive job market.
How a personal website can help you land a job
Having your own website can help your job search in two ways, says Steve Morgan, marketing manager at Computer Recruiter, an IT recruitment agency. “You can showcase your work and it shows that you are passionate about what you do.”
Some industries lend themselves better to having a website than others, though, Morgan says. Recruiters focused on finding tech workers, writers, designers and other creative types may be especially interested in seeing a candidate’s personal website. But people looking for jobs that don’t require a portfolio of work may find it isn’t worth the effort necessary to put a website together.
Here are three professional benefits of having a personal website:
Share your expertise
Miranda Wilson, an assistant professor of cello at the University of Idaho’s Lionel Hampton School of Music, treats her personal website as her “public face” to recruit students and establish her personal brand. “Prospective students probably aren't going to read some giant bio on the school website with the names of all my degrees and teachers and accomplishments, but they'll read the short version on the front page of my website.”
In addition to that short biography, Wilson says her website includes a headshot, a blog and list of articles she’s published, a list of CDs she’s released, a list of her film/TV appearances and a SoundCloud widget.
If you include a blog on your website, keep in mind recruiters or hiring managers can easily find it. “I was once on a search committee that had nearly decided to advance a candidate to the finals when we stumbled upon the person's blog, which said some pretty immature, mocking things about other musicians,” Wilson says. “This gave a terrible impression of what the person might have been like as a team player.”
Build your personal brand
Promoting your personal website on social media can help you build your personal brand, and establish a strong professional presence online. “As I've become more serious about my creative writing, I've started to see my site as the hub of my efforts to market and brand myself both professionally and personally,” says writer Jennifer Niemela. As a content marketing professional, she considers her website an example of her ability to create a content marketing strategy and brand for herself and track her own analytics.
Establish yourself as a thought leader
Kristofer Layon originally started his website to showcase his Web and design work. Then, after helping start the MinneWebCon Web conference, he added a “commentary” tab to discuss projects he was professionally interested in as a way to establish additional industry credibility; a move inspired by Jeffrey Zeldman. “I saw in his discipline of writing a way to become more established as a designer. So I thought even if it gave me only a small additional amount of credibility, it should be worth the effort.”
What to include on a personal website
Career coach Sarah Weinberger says you can use your personal website to highlight projects and work you’ve done in deeper ways than you can on social media sites. It’s easy to customize a website to highlight your best work.
If your website is a work in progress, it might be better to take it offline while you work on it rather than leaving it online unfinished, Morgan says. “Quality is essential, because if you're a designer and it's not very visually pleasing then it could backfire and end up working against you.”
Because her work is creative, Niemela says she doesn’t pump out posts daily or even weekly. “My cadence is once a month, which my readers have come to expect. Quality over quantity.”