In a global economy, standing out from the crowd can be a challenge. Using the tools available to showcase your skills and identity can help you differentiate yourself from other candidates for jobs, access opportunities outside traditional hiring processes, and access more relevant, interesting and lucrative opportunities. A personal website is the core of next-generation career-building tools.
A personal website is your resume, your calling card and your virtual identity all rolled into one. It’s the digital representation of your brand, and by extension, your professional self. It should be customized to your industry or area of interest, your ideal employer, and your experience and professional capacities. Depending on your profession, it may showcase your portfolio, detail your accomplishments, or feature your thoughts and written work. It’s the central locus of promotion and social media efforts, a landing place where you convert visitors into opportunities. In the best-case scenario, it lets you jump the hiring queue by attracting your ideal employers or clients to you.
So how do you get started and take advantage of the career-building effects of a personal website? You need to think about the “who”, “why” and “how” before working on the “what” of your website. Who is your target audience? Not just “employers”, but what type of employer specifically? What has that person interested in? What will attract her or him? Why will they engage with your site? In addition, how are you going to be providing that experience to prospective employers?
The answers to those questions will shape your first steps. Asking “who am I making this for?” and “why and how will it work?” will tell you what kind of content will go on your site, how it will need to function, and how it should look or be presented. You’ll also need to take into account your personal capacity for web design and development. Will you need a full-featured template or are you capable of hand coding a whole site? Maybe you need to find someone to help make customizations or coach you through the process. Making your own site is a great way to build and showcase coding, design and strategy skills, as well as a money-saving move.
If you are going it alone, pick a platform and sketch out a mock-up or choose a template. That will be affected by your content strategy. Do you have a portfolio of visual elements that will need to be showcased? Are you a writer, proving your skill with blogs, articles or links to bylined work? Are you just starting out, sharing little more than your identity and educational qualifications? The type of information, experience or proof of skill that you’re using to connect with potential employers will determine your options for site structure and design.
Keep in mind, no matter what type of work you do, you need to present a polished, professional and appealing personal website to potential employers. If you’re a visual artist, you may be able to use your own work as the centerpiece of the design, and complement it with a matched color scheme and layout. For the rest of us, background images at Dreamstime will be a key resource in crafting the right look and feel for our audience. A reliable source of high-quality stock images with plenty of variety will allow you to craft a professional and pleasing personal website that communicates your brand in a distinctive, compelling way.
Your personal website needs to add value and engage your audience. No one wants to spend time on an ugly, hard-to-read site, so one way to add value is in the design and use of images. Current trends are for large, sharp images and include parallax design (where a background moves separately from on-page content) and full-page headers or section separators. Snapshots of your resume and reports are not that exciting, even if they are relevant. Think about ways to visually represent your brand instead, and balance creativity with professionalism. Unless you’re a professional cartoonist, candy-colored unicorn graphics probably aren’t relevant, even if they communicate your personality to perfection. Likewise, black backgrounds and spiky illustrations won’t do you justice unless you’re seeking employment in the field of heavy metal album cover design. Even relatively innocuous stock images of smiling professionals and businesslike handshakes can do you a disservice, weakening your brand by portraying it as generic and unimaginative. Instead, consider focusing on object-based images with a unifying look or color scheme.
Your personal website can build your brand, make employers take notice, and enhance your reputation. Invest in building a site to display your skills, experience, and personality today, and remember to focus on your audience, goals , nd quality to get the most out of your investment.