Whether you’re just graduating from school or you’re a veteran in your field, you’ve probably spent time staring at your resume or CV, wondering how you can make it stand out. The bullet points, the black and white text, the awkwardness of writing about yourself in the third person—it’s hard to write a resume that really reflects what you’ve done and what you can do.
There’s a better way to describe your work experience and grab the attention of hiring managers, and that’s building your own resume website. It will add some much-needed life to your resume, and it’s easier to build than you might think.
Why do resume websites work?
Paper, begone! Here are some reasons why a resume or CV website can help with your job search:
- Lets you control the message. Any hiring manager worth their morning latte is going to Google you. What do you want to appear first? Ideally, the first result will be your personal website that you control and that paints you in the best light. Social media accounts, outdated information from old jobs, and photos of you at your nephew’s Easter Egg hunt…ideally those would all appear further down the page.
- Shows off your personality. There’s something that a black and white piece of paper can’t do, and that’s give a full picture of what you’re like. Hiring managers want to know about your experience, but they also want to know about your personality. Ideally your resume website can show off your skills while showing that you’re the kind of person they might also want to have lunch with.
- Makes you more findable. Let’s say hiring managers don’t know your name, but they know the skills they are looking for. Having a resume website with specific, well-written content on it will help you appear in their search results for the kinds of positions you are looking for.
- Shows that you are web-savvy. For many kinds of jobs these days, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re not a dinosaur. Having a website shows that you take your career hunt seriously, you’ve dedicated the time to a project (and successfully finished it!) and that you are familiar with current web trends. Only about 7% of job seekers have personal websites, according to Workfolio, so a website of your own will really help separate you from the pack.
- It’s much more fun. Let’s face it, job hunting is tough. You try to distil everything that makes you unique and qualified into just a couple of pages, then you send it off to sit in a pile of papers somewhere. Building your own resume website lets you be proactive and create something that actually reflects the person you are, not the version that people see on paper. Especially if you’re in a creative field, having your own website lets you “show” your work as much as you tell about it.
What parts should your resume website have?
You could create a one-page website, copy-and-paste the text from your resume, and be done with it. But with that approach, you miss out on a lot of the potential benefits of a resume or CV website.
Instead, I recommend starting your website with these basic parts:
Your homepage is your chance to introduce yourself and let hiring managers know that they’ve arrived at the right place. Make sure your name and your title/position are clearly visible in your website’s title and Header Text. Then give a brief introduction of who you are and the kinds of work you do.
Unless you are in a creative field with amazing photography or visuals to show off, it’s probably best to keep your background as a simple, solid color, with a small, flattering headshot of you added to the Content Area as a Photo Element. As cute as you are, no one really wants to see a giant blow-up of your face right on the homepage.
Some people like to put their entire resume on the homepage. The advantage of that approach is that it wastes no time—it gives the hiring managers exactly what they are looking for without having to click anywhere else. But it also works to give your resume its own page on your website.
This page will be most similar to your paper-and-ink resume. Use Heading Elements and Horizontal Line Elements to break up the page into sections and use Text Elements for your bulleted lists. On this page it’s best to keep it simple–even though a website gives to the chance to do a lot of creative things, you still want to provide hiring managers with what they are looking for: a straightforward list of what you’ve done!
In many resumes, you provide a list of references and hope that hiring managers will call them to hear how great you are. With your own website, you can skip that step and show exactly what your mentors and colleagues think of you. That way hiring managers can get a sense of what you’re like to work with, without even needing to pick up the phone.
Ask your mentors, colleagues, or past customers to write a short blurb about why they like to work with you and include those snippets on this page. You could also copy any references you have from your LinkedIn profile.
Work Examples and Accomplishments
The great thing about a resume website is that you can show your work rather than just talking about it in the abstract. This is your chance to break out of the formal, sometimes boring bullet points that make up most resumes. If you’re in a creative or visual field, this page is where you would include photos, videos, or links to your work.
If you’re in a more traditional field, you can still give examples of the kind of work you’ve done and what you’ve accomplished. Think to yourself “what am I most proud of?” Rather than the “raised revenue by 25% over Q3 earnings…”, try to describe your success in a narrative way, so that employers can get a sense of how you work.
Make it easy for people to get in touch with you. You can create a separate Contact page with your information (and perhaps a Form Element if you want people to be able to submit requests via your website). Or, you can skip this page and put your contact information readily available in the footer or sidebar of your website. This way it will appear on every page and there’s no way anyone could miss it.
If you want to show that you’re really serious about your career, it’s a good idea to invest in your own personal domain or website address. Ideally, you will be able to snag your name as a .com, but if you’re John Smith that’s probably not going to work (sorry, John Smith!) Adding your middle initial can help or adding your job title as in johnsmiththebaker.com or johnsmithconsulting.com. You can get a custom domain by upgrading to JimdoPro or JimdoBusiness.
More ideas for your resume website
You don’t want to skimp on the text on your resume website, otherwise, those search engines you’re trying to attract won’t be able to find you. But if you’re feeling like things are getting too text-heavy, here are some more ideas of what you can add:
- Links to any newspaper articles or press coverage about you.
- Links to pieces you’ve written on other websites, or better yet start your own blog.
- Videos of you presenting (assuming you’re an amazing, TED-talk-worthy presenter, of course).
- Create a timeline of your career in an app like Tiki-Toki, Dipity, or TimeGlider, and embed it on your site using the Widget/HTML Element
- Embed your social media feeds on your website (but only if the cat photos you’re posting are relevant to your job hunt).
- You can also use a service like Infogram or Piktochart to create easy infographics that bring dry numbers to life.
Do’s and don’ts for resume websites
- Do still offer your “real” resume for download. Some people still prefer the paper version (or will need it as they go through the hiring process). Use a File Download Element to offer your resume or CV for download as a PDF.
- Don’t break up your resume into too many separate pages. You don’t need a page for education, another for experience, and another for skills. That just means that people have to click multiple times to get the full picture of who you are. Make their lives easier and put all the important info on one page.
- Do add links to your (safe for work!) social media profiles.
- Don’t pad or put in irrelevant information. There’s a reason resumes and CVs are 1-2 pages. Employers only want the essentials. The same goes for your website.
- Do get a flattering headshot. If you’re awkwardly cropping out relatives or posting something blurry, it’s time to invest in a better photograph of yourself.
- Don’t spend so much time on the design that you forget about content. While they might appreciate your font and color choices, at the end of the day hiring managers need to make sure that you have the skills to do the job. That’s why it’s important as ever to spend time on your bullet points and describe your experience clearly and succinctly.
A good resume website evolves with you, and your career
Once you turn that resume/CV into a PDF, it just becomes a static document that will never change or get updated. A website, on the other hand, is easy to change whenever you gain new skills or experiences. And then, once you’re hired for that dream job, your resume website can evolve into a professional portfolio site that stays with you throughout your career, through changing jobs and changing tastes.
Do you have a resume website that’s helping you in your job search? Share it with us in the comments!