I have been talking a lot lately about building your personal brand and in this post I am focusing on going digital and creating your personal website. A personal website or online portfolio is fabulous for getting noticed, building connections and tapping into a new network of opportunities. It is a great way to build your profile, even when you haven't yet had the opportunity to meet your potential employer for an interview.
By creating an online presence you can actively promote yourself to a wider audience and can tailor your content to specifically suit the types of businesses that you are trying to get the attention of. Here are just a couple of things you should consider when you are creating your personal website:
INCLUDE A HEADSHOT
Now if you have read my mini ebook - 7 Common Resume Mistakes - you will have heard me mention that I am absolutely against including irrelevant information (like a headshot) in your resume, but your personal website is a totally different game. Remember that creating a personal website is all about building your personal brand. And who is at the centre of your personal brand? YOU! By including photographs on your website, you are humanising yourself and that can help them your new and potential contacts feel connected with you.
Headshots aren’t what they used to be. You don’t have to suit up, tease your hair and stand in front of a marbled backdrop. Your headshot can show your personality – it is an opportunity to show the “real you” – but you still want an element of professionalism.
The headshot on the left is a good one (if I do say so myself!).
I am smiling, the photo is high quality and it is very me! It was taken by a professional photographer – Lisa Lois Photography – if you are in Canberra you should check her out!
The photo on the right is wrong for so many reasons.
I am dressed as a pirate, you can see pAARRRRt (sorry, I couldn’t resist) of my friend’s face where I have cropped her out, I have a filthy cigarette hanging out of my mouth (I gave up on the 1st of January 2015!) and the photo is low quality and pixelated because it was taken on a mobile phone and then blown up.
Are you picking up what I am putting down here?
HAVE A CLEAR STRUCTURE
You don't need a website with 20 different pages and a blog, a YouTube channel and a shop. Stick to the bare minimum and know that you can always grow your site down the track. For instance, you may use your personal website to secure your dream job, but then you decide to keep it live to make new connections, develop your industry credibility, source freelance opportunities or start blogging (or vlogging) about your niche! But you don't need all of that up front. You can start with these pages:
Your main page
This could be your introduction or your "About Me" page. This is where you state your objective and tell your readers why you are here.
Your portfolio page
This is where you can showcase your work. Check out other people in your industry for ideas and inspiration about how to collate your portfolio. Obviously this is more straightforward for photographers and artists as you can have a simple gallery. That doesn't mean it is impossible though for other industries... you just have to be a little more creative. Check out my post, How to Create a Professional Portfolio For Any Industry for more ideas.
Your resume page
This is where you provide your full resume and can go more into the nitty-gritty or your skills and experience
Your contact page
This is so important, because without it, nobody can get in contact with you! Include your email address and your social media links (if they are appropriate for potential employers!) You may even want to include a simple contact page to make things super easy for people to drop you a line. You can check out my contact page here.
CLARIFY YOUR OBJECTIVE
You don't want people to land on your page and be wondering what in heck they are doing there. Your objective should be clear and your readers should be able to find this within seconds. Are you providing information or giving a different perspective on something? Maybe. Or maybe you are just proud to be showing off your goodies! If the latter is true for you then wear that badge with pride and announce it upfront - "Hi, my name is Sally and I am a graphic designer from Sydney, Australia. I invite you to take a look through my portfolio and get a feel for my work. Feel free to get in touch with me if something catches your eye or you want to find out more information about me and my graphic design capabilities."
This may or may not be an obvious point. But if you put yourself out there on the internet, your current employer can and probably will find you. So unless you are being super honest with your current employer and they know about your job seeking efforts, you should be tactful about the way you promote yourself. Let's just say you probably don't want to title your personal website, "Sally is looking for a new job!"
The best way that I have seen to get around this is to focus your website objective on making connections, not on getting a new job. This ties into my previous point about continuing your site once you have snagged your perfect role. Having a job you love doesn't mean you are suddenly no longer interesting in meeting influencers in your industry!
For some brilliant examples of personal websites you should check out this great post at The Muse.
It's a digital age; you don't want to get left behind! Create a personal website today!
DEVELOP A PROMOTION STRATEGY
So what are you going to do with your website once it is complete? This is not a Kevin Costner, "Build it and they will come" type situation. You need to put yourself out there and tell people to go to your site. When developing your plan, you want to think strategically. You don't want to go nuts and spam the crap out of the internet - you will look desperate. You do want to have a structured plan to get your message in front of your industry influencers. Here are some suggestions:
- Include the URL for your personal website on all of your social media profiles.
- Join relevant groups on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus, where you can share your industry knowledge and link to your site.
- Make sure that you link to your personal website when you are commenting on blogs and other online articles, especially if they are relevant to your career.
- If you have personal business cards, you absolutely must include your website url. Use your better judgment here though, your employer may not be happy with you passing our personal business cards at business-sponsored networking functions.
- Join a twitter chat and share your smarts. If your information is relevant and helpful, people will check out your profile and follow the links to your site.
- Pop it in the contact details section of your resume, with your phone number and email address.
- Include the link in your personal email signature.
- Ask your friends to share your website with people in their networks.
Have I tempted you to create your own personal website? I promise you that it is so worth it. The internet is the way of the future - don't get left behind! if you do create a personal website, make sure you leave me a link in the comments!