BY JORI HAMILTON
According to job search expert Susan Joyce, 80% of potential employers will do a Google search for your name before they hire you for a job. Want to know what they’ll find? Do a quick search of your own, and see what comes up. If it’s your Facebook page, your Twitter account, or Instagram pictures that show a less-than-professional side of you, you may not want that to be the first impression an employer gets.
Think about how much better it would be if the first thing a potential employer sees is exactly what you want them to see: a professional-looking website that shows who you are, lists off your skills and education, and explains to any employer why you’d make a great candidate for your applied position.
Thankfully, building a website isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Even if you don’t have web design or coding experience, there are enough resources available today that will allow you to create a beautiful site that will help you stand out with potential employers.
Why is a Website Important?
Most college students know a thing or two about online presence. But as stated above, much of that presence is probably spent on things like Instagram and Snapchat. When you start looking for jobs after graduation, you’ll quickly see how important your online presence is when it comes to being seen.
Think of it this way: On average, over 100 people apply for any given job. As you might expect, an employer isn’t going to want to intensively go through 100 resumes and applications to find the ideal candidate. So, they try to weed out as many people as possible early on. Having a website about yourself, especially one that you started in college, can help to boost you up on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP), so the employer will see your site before they see your social media or anything else you may not want them to notice right away and anyone else’s for that matter.
Your website gives you the opportunity to showcase your work experience and your education in one spot. The site should include things like:
- Your picture
- Your resume
- A page showcasing your accomplishments
- A contact form
You can even include links to your social pages so potential employers can get to know the “real” you, but make sure you’re okay with them seeing the things usually meant for friends and family.
Not only will a website help you to stand out from other applicants, but it makes it easier for an employer to see all of the information they need about you in one convenient place.
How to Create Your Own Site
Again, you don’t need to have a lot of design experience to create a professional-looking website. Thanks to platforms like Wix and Squarespace, you can “drag and drop” the things you’d like on your site onto pre-made templates. While you’ll have to pay for the site and a domain name, it’s typically an inexpensive annual fee that can be well worth it if your website leads to job success.
How you set up your website and what you choose to include is totally up to you, but it’s a good idea to have things that will help you to stand out. A good website should have consistency, clear images, and should be easy to navigate. Another important component is to make sure it’s mobile-friendly. Over 52% of the population use their phones to access the internet. So, assume that your site is going to be viewed on a smartphone at some point, and make sure it’s optimized to do so.
Any good marketing professional will tell you that content is king. That’s no different when you’re trying to sell what you have to offer to potential employers. So, the content on your website should be a highlight reel of why you should be hired. You should also update that content frequently for your site to remain relevant with search engines. Starting up a blog on your website is a great way to consistently add fresh content and share more about yourself.
If you’re still a little uncertain about how to build your own website, it’s okay to ask for help from a professional. Chances are that when you’re putting together your resume or portfolio, you’re willing to invest a lot of time (and maybe even some money) into making sure it looks good. Your website should be no different. In fact, it should even be a priority, because it’s a one-stop location for your resume, portfolio, and so much more. Hiring someone to do the leg work for you is often a worthwhile investment, especially if it helps you to land the job of your dreams.
So, if you’re currently in college or recently graduated and thinking about the kind of career you want, consider creating a website for yourself. It will make your job search easier, and will give potential employers a chance to see what you really have to offer, instead of that unflattering Facebook picture from 2010.
Bio: Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Northwest who is passionate about education and social justice issues. You can follow her on Twitter @HamiltonJori