Standing out during a job search is an uphill battle. One thing that can help: linking to a personal website at the top of your resume or application.
Most people will, at most, have a LinkedIn profile—that's an opportunity to set yourself apart. A website lets you show off accomplishments and skills in a way that goes beyond a standard resume or job application. They also tend to rank high in search results for your name, giving you more control over what employers see when they search for you.
There are plenty of ways to make your job search go more smoothly. You can streamline your job search sources, learn new skills to set yourself apart, and even automate the process of networking. But the value of a website shouldn't be overlooked.
Let's talk a bit more about why and how you should build a website as part of your job search.
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Having a website demonstrates tech skills
Most people don't know how to internet. Building a personal website is a great way to show—not tell—that you're tech-savvy.
Building your own corner of the web isn't particularly hard, mostly because there are all sorts of no-code tools to help. You could find a web host and set up WordPress (that's what I did). Or you could check out something like Wix, Squarespace, or any other website builder. They cost a little more but make it easy to build a site that shows off who you are, what you do, and why people should hire you.
But overall, the medium truly is the message here. I'm sure there are compelling things you can say about yourself on your website, and you have great accomplishments to outline and link to. But you could put those on your resume or LinkedIn page too. The website, just by existing, also makes a statement about you. It shows not only that you're tech-forward, but also that you're the kind of person who takes the time to build something on your own. That alone makes it worth building.
It gives you a place to represent yourself
A website is also a great chance to show off other skills. If the site looks great, it indicates that you have an eye for design. If the copy is compelling, it demonstrates that you have some skills as a writer. But that's just the beginning: a website allows you to tell your story.
Resumes, cover letters, and sites like LinkedIn all allow you to pitch yourself to potential employers—but they're limited forms. Your website, meanwhile, lets you make the case for yourself however you want.
Want to make a punchy, one-sentence pitch for yourself alongside a headshot and a link to your GitHub page? Great. Want to make an elaborate video that outlines how awesome you are? That's also possible. Want to quickly point to your work on other websites, or even direct people to your pages on social networks? Easily accomplished.
This is a chance to make the best case for yourself in a freeform medium.
I'm a writer, so my personal website explains how I think about my work, then links to my profile pages on various publications.
My colleague Grant, an engineer here at Zapier, has a similar site, but it links to projects he's worked on and talks he's given. Our recruiter told us she looked at this before hiring him.
My colleague Laurie, on Zapier's support team, uses her personal site to link to her social networks and her WordPress consulting company.
Resumes and social networks are a chance to show off your skills and experience, but every page looks the same. A website, on the other hand, can look and function any way you want it to. It's a chance to make a distinct impression—one with a better chance of standing out.
There are a lot of different approaches you can take, so think about how to best represent yourself.
Take control of search results for your name
My personal website is the first thing that comes up when someone Googles my name. That means if a potential employer searches for me, the first result they'll see is a site I control.
I can't promise this will work for you, particularly if your name is more common than mine. But if you buy a domain name that includes your name and then link to it from every social network you have, there's a good chance it will end up toward the top of search results for your name (or at least name and location, if your name is more common).
Employers are going to search for your name, so it's worth taking control of what shows up.
Every little thing helps
It's brutal out there, and there aren't any quick tricks that can change that. A personal website isn't going to ensure you get a job, but it could help. It's helped me and a lot of people I know. Give it a try.