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Personal Website for the Job Search: What content?

A guide to creating a professional personal website to aid you in getting a job.

What content should I put on my website?

Before you begin building your site, you should think about what you want to make available on it. If an employer already has your resume in hand, it doesn't make sense to merely copy and paste this information onto a web site (although much of this information should be available on your site, and you can certainly link to your resume if you wish, or link to a LinkedIn account where this info is available). While a resume may be limited in length or by standardized sections, you'll have a lot of freedom in how you organize and what you place on your professional website. According to Forbes magazine contributor Brent Dykes, you can generate a lot of value by drawing connections among the data, visuals, and narrative you present in something like a personal website. 

You may have already collected some of the data you want to share with employers by creating your resume, but a professional website allows you to expand upon this information, providing context and rich media to make this information more engaging to tell a more complete story about who you are. Activities that are just named on a single line on your resume could be developed on your website into a section that reflects on your experience and shares images or video of the event. This can help potential employers visualize what you did, as well as allow you to reflect upon the role of these experiences in your professional development, who you are, and what you value. The internet is a visual media, so it makes sense to try and incorporate images or video to go along with the textual content you create.

All of these add up to convey a narrative--a brand if you will--that communicates who you are, what you hope to accomplish, and what kind of employee you will be. The change referenced in the image that you're hoping for is to change the reader's mind about interviewing you; how you accomplish this is by presenting an engaging site that explains and enlightens your audience. Another way to think about the role of your web site is that it elaborates upon your resume in the same way that you might discuss your professional experiences when at an in-person job interview. You can tell a story that cannot always be conveyed in the basic resume format.

Some questions to keep in mind:

  • What sort of story will this site tell about you? The additional information you provide can help visitors better understand your goals and character. Just like in, say, a first date situation, you should carefully select the information you reveal about yourself. Be honest, but don't be afraid to highlight your best characteristics. Do you think of yourself as a leader, a team player, a problem solver? What can you share that goes beyond the information on your resume to show employers the skills you want to forefront?
  • What course school or work experiences do you want to highlight on the site? The web site provides space to share the context for your decisions and process in working on various projects. Perhaps you took the lead in your group. Perhaps you used the project as an opportunity to learn a new skill and go outside your comfort zone. The project is more than just its product; it's the various decisions and strategies you employed to complete it. Don't be afraid to admit that you struggled or found something difficult, as long as you include what steps you took to overcome this issue.
  • What rich media do you have related to yourself and to the field you are entering (images, video, etc.)? And how can this media support the narrative you're building, and help your audience understand it better? Content can be uploaded directly to your site, or it can be embedded/imported from other services (such as Youtube). There's also no reason not to link out to other professional profiles of yourself online, such as a LinkedIn profile, that provide your audience with an alternate way to learn about and connect with you (while also expanding the networks who can connect with you online beyond just potential employers you've sent resumes to). Social media sites may be linked to as well, but only if they are curated to match your professional persona.
  • Are there ways to show more abstract qualities in a concrete way on your site? Can you show progress over time? Overcoming challenges? Community engagement? The values you have, and how the content you've chosen to highlight connects to those values?