If you’re well and truly sick of spending hours applying for jobs online only to receive the same ‘thank you for applying, unfortunately on this occasion you have been unsuccessful’ automated email each time, you’re going to need to re-shape your approach.
The jobs market is competitive; we know this. When a position is being advertised online, there’s literally nothing stopping every man and his dog from applying. You might know you’re perfectly suited to a role, but if you can’t cut through the noise, you’ll never get the chance to prove it to the hiring manager.
You need to differentiate yourself from other applicants, but how? If your cover letter is already absolutely sizzling, your resume is as good as it’s ever going to be and your LinkedIn profile is up to date, it might be time to consider creating a professional website for yourself.
How can having your own website help in your job search?
Your own professional website is a great place to showcase your portfolio and bring your experience to life. Given you can include videos, pictures, reports, graphs, campaign screenshots and other interesting visuals to support your career to date, having your own website often well surpasses the effectiveness of your resume. You can design your website to reflect your personal, professional brand and use it as a platform to sell yourself.
Having your own website is also a great way to gain more control over what people are finding about you online. When hiring managers and recruiters come across your application, they’re likely to Google your name to see if all your claims stack up. Don’t just let them find your Facebook page and severely outdated MySpace photo gallery, have them sent straight to your professional platform. If you include the URL to your website on your resume, decision makers who want to know more about your capabilities will naturally follow their nose. This will instantly set you apart from other applicants who remain faceless PDF documents until the interview.
How can you get started?
First of all, you want to buy your domain name – ideally your first and last name (.com). Sites like GoDaddy make it easy to search what’s available and purchase. Don’t stress if your name is taken, you can always experiment with professional variations of your name – just remember to think ‘professional and timeless’.
Next you’ll need to find a host for your website; WordPress.com is a popular and free choice. Other free options are Squarespace, Weebly and Tumblr – have a look around and see what feels right for you.
Once you’ve sorted the site basics out, it’s time to get uploading and personalising. At a minimum, make sure you have a professional ‘About Me’ page, a portfolio page(s) and a ‘Contact Me’ page. You could also think about including a video introduction (to showcase how you present yourself), a testimonials section (where you include references / recommendations) and a resume page (outlining your previous engagements). Some people include a blog where they share professional thoughts and expertise, and post regularly to keep things current.
Things to consider first
Your professional website should be just that – professional. Your website will become a reflection of your capabilities and should sell you as a desirable employee. You don’t have to make it obvious on your website that you are looking for a new job; instead keep it as a portfolio platform for you to showcase your personal brand.
It is also worth checking out your current company’s policies around employee internet usage and make sure you’re not revealing / publishing sensitive information about your employer on your website. For example, if you are embedding examples of your work, be sure to check you have the right to do so.
It might also be worth keeping some areas of your website – or the entire thing – password protected. This would mean that only people you give your URL and password to can access the site. If you do this, just be careful who you are giving the password to, and remember – if you don’t give your password out on your job application (with your URL), your website will be useless to boosting your chances at scoring an interview!