Personal branding is something that every student and grad needs to have planned out in order to execute a successful job hunt.
Aside from a well crafted resume and cover letter, creating business cards is a great start. Establishing a strong social media presence is also important (keep it professional!). Personal branding is the idea of selling yourself, is a multifaceted concept with many moving parts.
But there is another side of personal branding that you may not have considered: a website. Ubiquitous with the internet, having a professional website is a sure fire way to get your message and product – namely you – to the attention of a potential employer. Having a website gives you a chance to curate what they see and know about you.
Think this is a good avenue for you to explore? Here are some tips and tricks, as well as other reasons why personal branding and websites go hand in hand.
1. Decide what you’re “selling”
Who exactly are you? What do you know and what are you good at? These are the first of many questions you should ask yourself before starting a website. The answers to these questions will build the foundation of the website itself.
Think about what an employer will want from you. It may depend on the industry you’re looking to get into – the best qualities of a good graphic designer and an accountant will likely rank differently. Pick 2 or 3 to showcase, and model your website after this vision.
2. It all starts with the URL
Having a good URL is like coming up with a good tag line in the advertising business: The hard part’s done. The process of buying and securing a URL can be a frustrating one. Odds are your first and last name are already taken (i.e. the chances of me buying devinjones.com are slim.)
This is when the need to get creative arises. It’s almost like naming a child: Too conventional and they won’t stand out, too unique and it stands the risk of being ridiculed, or misunderstood. Since people will be typing this in, it’ll be the first thing they come to associate you with, which is why it’s important to have a website URL that manages to convey who you are within a small space
3. Allow for a consistent voice
Personal branding is all about having a unified theme, so wherever people end up – Twitter, Facebook, your website – they need to see a consistent message. A personal website is the first big step in creating that theme.
Consistency also manifests itself in who or what you associate yourself with. Positive brand association goes a long way in selling yourself, and a “partners” or “collaborators” page on your website can go a long way. Like Tom Peters wrote over 10 years ago in his article A Brand Called You, “We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” This can also apply to social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. Who are you following, and does it match your brand?
4. Let your website be home base
Think about the website as a portal to everything you want people to know about you. If you have a pre-existing blog that you update regularly, think about connecting it to the website – with one or two isolated entries enticing people to click and read further. When first building your professional website, not everything has to be robust and polished right away. Three pages providing your resume, a short bio on who you are and what you’re all about, and links to social media profile is more than enough.
5. Make it pop
Once things are up and running smoothly, it’s time to think about the visual layout of your website. Any text should be short and snappy, adding personal flair but keeping it short enough that the reader doesn’t get bored. If you decide to have pictures, make them relevant. The last thing you want a consumer of your product to feel is confused. Also make sure all pictures are the correct pixel size, grainy or incorrectly sized pictures take away from the air of professionalism you’re trying to convey. Increasingly, websites now come with a quick 30 second video explaining what you’ll find around the site, it’s a personal choice, but it could make for a good introduction.
6. Test run
Many online website builders allow you to work out any kinks before you ever go live, a beta version of sorts. Take advantage of this. First, you should go through the pages and see if you catch anything you missed in terms of layout, spelling mistakes, or just something you forgot to add in or take out. Next let a friend or colleague do the same, let them get a feel for the site and then ask for their feedback. Doing this with multiple people allows for various opinions on what does and doesn’t work. From there you can edit any additional content that comes up.
7. Constantly monitor your site
This is where the “leave a reply” section of your site comes in handy. Just because you worked through most of the bugs during beta testing doesn’t mean the work is done. You should be constantly monitoring the website, reading any comments users have left and tweaking the site at least once a week. That doesn’t mean changing anything major, but taking any feedback provided and putting it to good use.
While this is optional, creating content is imperative if your goal for your site is to stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind. The way to stay relevant in the field you’re in is to get your face out there. While you don’t want to overload the site with everything you’ve written, having interesting examples of your work available is a must.
If your site’s goal is to act as a digital resume, be sure to maintain it with the most up to date information – any new additions to your portfolio or resume experiences should be in sync with the documents you send out during your job hunt. While your content doesn’t need to be updated on a constant basis, it should never look forgotten or out-of-date.
Most important of all, you should enjoy the process of getting your name out there and creating a brand that is wholly unique to you. While it can be an arduous process, it can also be a rewarding one. So get out there, and with the help of personal website, build a brand that screams “this is me.”