This is a guest blog post written by our Campus Ambassador from Binghamton University, Samantha Schoenfeld.
Once you have spent hours perfecting your resume and achieved "all-star" status on LinkedIn, your personal branding shouldn’t stop there. Going above and beyond could mean the difference between receiving an amazing job/internship offer or being passed up for someone else.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself and show off the work you have done is by creating a personal website. There are so many articles out there that teach you exactly how to set up a website. However, to make a great site, you’ll need to carefully choose the format that is best for you.
The first question to ask yourself when creating a website is why? What do you want to show off? This is the step I skipped at first, which caused me to create websites I wasn’t happy with and would end up deleting. Once you know why you’re creating the site, you should consider the various formats to choose from.
- Landing Page- A simple, single webpage is great if you want to expand your online presence but don’t want a site that requires constant maintenance. This format is simple, professional, and works for pretty much any industry. You can include a brief bio and contact information. You’re basically creating an online business card, with a touch of personality.
- Virtual Resume- A virtual resume is similar to a landing page, but should include additional information regarding your work history, education, and accolades. Essentially, you’re bringing your resume to life with this format. Anyone can benefit from a virtual resume, regardless of the industry you plan on entering. Get creative and add photos or videos. Make sure that your website isn’t as dry as a standard resume. Write a fun bio of yourself and consider including a photo so recruiters can put a face to your name. When recruiters view your site they will see you for the awesome person you are and not just another candidate with the same major and skill set.
- Personal Blog- This format is perfect if you want to show off your writing skills, especially if you are interested in a career in Journalism, Copywriting, Social Media, Public Relations, etc. Blog about the industry you want to enter to show potential employers that you’re up to date on industry news and have opinions on major topics. For example, if you want to work in the TV industry, you can create a blog reviewing your favorite TV shows. Another option is to keep it general and blog about your life (stay professional), internship experience, and classes. Whatever topic you choose, make sure it’s one that you truly care about and enjoy writing about.
- Portfolio-Calling all graphic designers, photographers, architects, filmmakers, etc. If you have work to show off, this is the format for you! If you are using a website builder, such as Squarespace, Wix, or Weebly, choose a portfolio template with a visual emphasis. Just upload your best work and you’re good to go. Even if you’re not entering a field that requires a portfolio, having one anyway will allow you to stand out and impress employers. For example, if you want to work in marketing, you can post screenshots of a successful social media campaign you ran for your acapella group.
You can always combine multiple format options, such as a virtual resume with a blog. After you have chosen the format for your website, I recommend sketching out what you envision the site looking like. This made it so much easier for me to get on my laptop and build my site, as I had an overall idea of the structure I wanted. I built my website using Squarespace, which gives students 50% off for their first year. While it wasn't the cheapest option, it features beautiful templates and is very easy to use. I would highly recommend it.
Your resume and cover letter tell part of your story but a website has the potential to show off your work in a more personal way. Feel free to check my website out for ideas HERE.