Heather attends the University of Notre Dame in Indiana where she is double majoring in Business Management and Psychology. She has been lucky enough to intern at her school's Alumni Association doing graphic design and for the Intern Queen herself!
Ok, so that is probably not what you want to call your personal website. But maybe I am getting ahead of myself. What even is a personal website? And why do YOU need one?
Making a personal website was my New Year’s resolution. I have actually started two. One is my professional site that includes my qualifications, skills, and design/art portfolio. That is the type of site we will be discussing in this article. The other is my more creative site that is not linked with my professional name. That site includes my blog, favorite recipes, a link to my Facebook, and an online shop where you can buy the things I make. It was important to me to keep my personal and professional identities separate and these two sites are geared to entirely different people. That is something to keep in mind as you create your site. Of course, if you want access to my sites – please let me know!
What is it?
A personal website is an opportunity for you to organize and display all of your skills and experience. Think of it as an extended resume. All the stuff that you couldn’t fit on one page can easily be navigated to within your website. There should be a spot where you can write a little about yourself, a page for a printable paper version of your resume, and so on. Possible pages to include in your website might be: awards/recognition, skills, work experience, volunteerism, contact information, etc. The headings you would put on your resume are a good place to start and you can build from there. Do you dabble in photography? Add a portfolio page where you can display your best work. Are you looking for a job as a writer? Add some samples of your writing or include a blog component. What you include in your site is entirely up to you.
Why Should You Make One?
- A personal website is increasingly necessary in our digital world. A website is where a potential employer can go to find all of your information in one spot.
- You can have a link to your Twitter and Facebook (provided those are professional enough for an employer to see) as well as to your LinkedIn profile.
- They also allow you to expand upon your resume. If you have too many jobs or extracurriculars to list on one page, a website is a great place to put them! You can go into much more detail about your accomplishments, (ex: duties and outstanding achievements in your last internship) than you can on paper.
- You can personalize it! While paper resumes are supposed to be black ink on white/cream paper, your website can be whatever you want! Show your fun personality! Don’t get too crazy and just have animated kittens everywhere – remember this should still look professional. But it is perfectly acceptable to add some floral flourishes or some pops of color!
- Best of all, it is just plain impressive! To be a young professional with your own website shows that you are on the cutting edge of technology and you are a go-getter who is taking advantage of new venues and opportunities. A good-looking website can easily push you above someone who only has a plain paper resume.
- If you want to create your own company, a website is a must. Most web-hosting includes email addresses, which looks much more professional than getting an email from someone at a yahoo.com address.
Okay, Heather, you convinced me. How do I make my own website?
You’re going to have to do a little research. First, check to see if your domain name is free. Make sure it is professional and easy to remember. Often, your name will be available, and that is probably the best domain name to have. For example, JohnDoe.com would be great…if your name is John Doe. At some colleges, you have a webpage linked to your email (Google Sites, for example) where you can create your webpage for free. Otherwise, you will have to find a web hosting service. GoDaddy.com, iPage.com, and fatcow.com are just a few that are cheap and secure. You can search “web hosting providers” for more options. Then you have to create the actual site. If you’re a pro at web coding – create your own from scratch! If you’re like me, you need some help. You could hire someone to make it, but that is expensive. Many hosting providers will provide templates so that you can do this yourself with no HTML , CSS, or JAVA coding skills required. Make sure to check that out before you decide which host to go with. The iLife program included on Mac computers also provides a web creation software called iWeb that is easy to use. Not sure what you want it to look like? Search “Best Personal Online Portfolio Sites” or something similar for inspiration.
So, how do I get employers to look at my site?
Obviously, include your site URL on your resume header under your home address. Mention it in your cover letter. You should already have an email signature. (If you don’t, get one!) Include the URL to your site in that signature. Tweet your site and add the URL to your Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. If you have business cards (another thing I suggest!) add the URL on that, or add a QR code. People can scan the QR code with their phones and be taken directly to your site.
I hope that you are all interested in taking on an extra project for yourselves this year. Creating a website is quite an undertaking, but it is well worth it! Happy Designing, Everyone!