If you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to have your own blog or professional website. Including this site in a cover letter or resume can show recruiters samples of your work they wouldn’t otherwise see or impress them with your writing style in a way your resume can’t convey.
This website doesn’t have to be complicated — in fact, simplicity is usually the best option. Conveying your personality can give you an edge when looking for a job, but an unmaintained blog or one that looks half-finished could hurt your job hunt.
How do you decide what to include on your website and which style and layout to use?
Choose your platform and style
Simple website builders such as SquareSpace and Weebly have made it easy to create great sites. If you’re willing to invest more time, then you should certainly consider WordPress. It’s still relatively simple and you won’t need any coding skills. Tuts+ has a great beginner’s guide for those new to the platform.
Any designer will tell you simplicity and functionality should be at the core of good design. You’re communicating a message, not creating a masterpiece. The templates available with most site builders are great — just don’t ruin them by flooding them with too much information. Between two and five pages should suffice unless you have a large portfolio of work you want to display.
Core objectives for your professional website
Ask yourself: what are the core objectives of this website? They could include:
- Find a new job
- Improve your reputation
- Network with the right people
- Sell your work or land clients
Depending on your goals, you’ll want to make sure you have either a blog or a portfolio on your site, since these two components will best showcase your skills and experience. There’s no reason not to have both a portfolio and blog, though having a clear focus on your main goal will help keep the site clear and clutter-free.
Concentrating on particular areas will give you focus and allow you to design your site accordingly.
Do I need to write a blog?
This will depend on your career, personality and what you want to achieve from your website. One of the core blogging principles is that a blog should be written with passion and target a specific audience. Your readers will be able to tell whether you care about the topics you cover!
Don’t know whether you should write a blog? Here are two solutions based on your goals: (Click here to tweet this list.)
- Portfolio/Resume & Blog – This is ideal for those who want to showcase their understanding and interest in the latest industry developments. It’s also vital for networking.
- Portfolio/Resume Only – This option is great for anyone that can clearly display examples of their work or an impressive career history. Choose this option if you’re worried that a blog will only distract from your goals or that you won’t be able to invest in it sufficiently.
What should I include on my website?
Be selective and only show the work you’re truly proud of. Remember that you’ll be hired to do or create something similar, so showcase the type of work you really want to be doing, even if it only accounts for a small fraction of your experience.
If you’ve decided a blog is appropriate for your site, then check out Pro Blogger’s tips before attacking the keyboard. Just remember: a blog purely for the sake of writing one is unlikely to impress anyone.
It can be hard not to be cheesy, so keep it simple. A one-sentence summary of your skills and your place of residence will appeal to recruiters. This should also outline the aims of the site.
Skills and services
You’ll also list these on your resume. But not every recruiter will get that far, so highlight your best skills in a prominent position on your website as well.
There’s probably a formal personal statement on your website, but this is a chance to go into further detail and perhaps raise a smile. Hiring managers want to work with people they like, so don’t be afraid to show a little bit of your personality! You should also include a photo of yourself, as it allows recruiters to picture you and start to develop an idea of your character.
CV or resume
Social Networking Buttons
If you’re active on social media, you’ll likely want to showcase that here, since it’s often viewed as a skill. But be mindful of your social updates, and keep them professional. Even if you don’t link to your social profiles from your website, many employers check out potential employers on Facebook — so you should expect those eyes either way.
Make it as easy as possible for readers to reach you; you never know what opportunities might come your way. All website platforms offer the option for a contact form. If you’re using WordPress, consider Contact Form 7.
When building a website designed to attract potential employers, keep it simple, clear and genuine. If you try and oversell yourself, it will be immediately obvious. You don’t need to be a website designer to make a great career site, but if you respect some of the main principles of web design, your site will benefit.
Focus on simplicity, functionality, your core objectives, and an honest approach… and it might just pay off in the long run.
Alex Heron works for Express Vending, which provides vending solutions and runs an award-winning graduate recruitment scheme.