A personal website that extols your professional credentials, experience, and strengths is probably the single most important career development tool you can have.
Whereas on a resumé or CV, you’re limited to a page or two of static text that may not get read all the way through, a website offers the chance to engage prospective clients or employers in a way that’s truly engaging, unique, and appropriate for your talents.
In 2010, graphic designer Jacob Cass was trying to find a job and keep from being kicked out of the country. Ultimately, it was the combination of his personal website, online portfolio, and social network activity that enabled him to land a great gig and return to NYC. He talks about his experience in the TED video, below:
Your personal website can truly become whatever you wish to represent you on a computer screen. Need to show a portfolio? Demonstrate thought leadership in a given subject? Show success stories from past jobs or projects? Prove how different you are from the rest of the flock?
These are the types of things that simply can’t be accomplished with a resume, no matter how carefully manicured it may be. Plus, a personal website can be the centerpiece of your all-important “personal brand” which is increasingly important to differentiate you from all the other job seekers out there.
Here are 10 personal websites that helped boost the careers of their owners…
1. Sam Cooper, www.samshouses.com (real estate):
At first glance, Sam’s site doesn’t look like anything special. It’s plain, has dull colors, and looks simple. But if you research a little more about Sam, you’ll find some interesting facts about him and his site.
First off, real estate is a hyper competitive field with agents aplenty proliferating every little town and large metropolis. And while real estate agents often work at agencies, their job is still very much an individual endeavor.
Sam has managed to earn his website top search engine rankings on the Google search term “real estate agent columbus ohio,” which has given him a great deal of visibility in his market and a ranking within the top 1% of selling agents in central Ohio. His site, meanwhile, offers quick access to his listings, contact information, and a number of tools to help potential buyers research neighborhoods and listings.
2. Jacob Cass, www.justcreative.com, (graphic design)
A graphic designer, Jacob shows his work and demonstrates his considerable subject matter expertise in a variety of ways on his website. This site is a great example of the “if you got it, flaunt it” mentality when it comes to personal branding and promotion.
He’s got it, and he’s not afraid to show it off. Whether it’s a front-page picture of him giving a talk at TED or a listing of his considerable publication credits and awards, he posts it. All of it works to enhance his image and value. And top Google billing for “graphic designer NYC” doesn’t hurt, either!
3. Joseph Stark, www.joestarkcpa.com, (certified public accountant)
Joseph is an independently practicing CPA in the Indianapolis area. He’s looking for new clients, and when they find him via Google or other means, he serves them up a nice blend of his personal career history and services offered. He presents himself openly and candidly—an appropriate strategy for a professional whose success hinges largely on trustworthiness. One addition that might help in this regard is including customer testimonials.
4. Daniel Stark, www.danielstarkphotography.com, (wedding photographer)
Daniel and Lindsay are a husband-and-wife wedding photography team in Portland, OR. Their website does a great job demonstrating their capabilities via a portfolio of their work, and client testimonials that allow prospective customers to get to know them as people first—an important consideration since they’ll be a major part of the big day.
Their website also helps facilitate the hiring process by answering frequently asked questions and providing several ways to get in touch.
5. Milt Webb, http://www.miltwebb.com/, (web designer)
Milt’s website has about everything you would want on web designer’s home page: an impressive portfolio of past work, services listing, testimonials, and a host of additional information useful to anyone considering a designing or redesigning their website. Combine that with a knowledgeable, yet personable attitude portrayed throughout the site, and you have one web designer who won’t be hard up for work anytime soon
6. Andrea Mann,http://www.andreamann.com/, (writer/jazz vocalist/photographer)
There is that occasion when you come across a talent that can’t be relegated to traditional categories, and all you can really do is call it like you see it. That’s what this comedy writer/jazz singer/shutterbug has done with herself on her personal website.
The result? A very interesting read that makes you wonder how this ridiculously prolific and accomplished human being fits it all in.
7. Cat-Rabbit, http://catrabbit.com.au/, (textile artist):
One can’t help but draw parallels between Cat-Rabbit’s technique with fabrics and Picasso’s way with paints. This Aussie specializes in creating one-of-a-kind stuffed animals that seem tailor-made to debut on an animated series someday. This website does a great job showcasing her work while presenting her ongoing artist narrative via her blog.
8. Tara Gentile, http://www.taragentile.com/, (microbusiness consultant)
Tara isn’t your typical business-suit-donning, Excel-chart-wielding business consultant who dreams of nabbing a big Fortune 500 client. She’s much more at home working with individuals working out of their homes on their own microbusinesses. Her pitch is “Maximize your impact. Minimize your effort.” She offers a number of ways to make that happen from business plan development, access to microbusiness communities, and coaching. Her website does a great job at presenting these various ways to engage with her.
9. Jonathan Harris, http://www.number27.org/, (technology consultant)
Jonathan is another talent that’s difficult to pigeon-hole, but with his overall mission being to work on “…projects that reimagine how humans relate to technology and to each other,” he’s certainly relevant to the times we live in. His website does a good job presenting his body of work, thinking, and capabilities.
10. Adam Barone, www.adambarone.com (marketing/advertising)
In the advertising and marketing industry, projecting a strong personal brand and message is vitally important since that’s precisely what prospective clients are looking for you to do for them.
A Boston-based copywriter, Adam chose to go with a minimalist design that kept graphics to a minimum while featuring his creative, unique way with words…both on the site itself and in the client work he features in his portfolio section. Along with an organic SEO link-building campaign he executed years ago that continues bearing fruit, he’s been able to nab front-page listing for the Google search “copywriter boston,” which has greatly enhanced his visibility.
Set Up Your Personal Website Today
So whether you’re hunting for a job, wanting occasional freelance projects, or seeking a flow of new clients, why wouldn’t you create your personal foundation online, as Cass outlines in his TED Talk? Just a few hours of setup can provide a powerful platform for your professional future. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll create the results you’re seeking. Good luck!