A personal website is an ideal platform to showcase your personality while trying to get a job. If you have been listening to me for the past four and a half years, you know I think there are many other benefits of a personal website. But here I want to focus on the personality aspect.
Why should you care about how your personality is portrayed to prospective employers? The reason is: many employers are considering it as part of an initial screening process.
- They might have you take a ‘personality test’. According to a Wall Street Journal article, “eight of the top 10 U.S. private employers now administer pre-hire tests in their job applications for some positions”.[i]
- They might scour your social media profiles. According to a Career Builder survey: “39% of employers dig into candidates on social sites, while 43% said they had found something that made them deep-six a candidate”.[ii]
- They will assess a personal website. In a survey I conducted, 77% of the HR respondents acknowledged they would review one in an employment evaluation.[iii]
Since a ‘personality check’ happens so early in an employment evaluation, if you do not pass, you do not get a chance to make a face to face impression in an interview. Does a personality test effectively tell your story? Do social media profiles capture your essence?
Taking a personality test. It varies and depends on the test. Employers will argue they have stats indicating how a candidate answers particular questions predicts future performance; though according to one study: “only 14% of organizations have data to prove the positive business impact of their assessment”.[iv] I think the testing is skewed because of the tremendous amount of pressure a candidate faces trying to impress to get a job. Have you ever taken a personality test for a job?
I took one while trying to land my first job after college. I was applying for a financial advisor position. The test was a minefield of questions on ethics. With many of the questions, I remember thinking over and over again: “how do they want me to answer this question?” I desperately needed a job!
LinkedIn presence (profile, content, and updates). There are a lot of great features of a LinkedIn profile for an employment evaluation. Its strengths include: being indexed by a powerful search algorithm and the representation of connections and endorsements. Do you think it represents your personality, however? Not me. It is too formal and has a uniform style – other than your profile background image. Everyone has the same layout – a boxy table. When I write content for LinkedIn, I write in a ‘professional voice’ (not a ‘creative voice’). Though it is possible to add various forms of media, it does not have the same depth of a personal website. Finally, if you are a student or an early career professional, your LinkedIn profile does not have much content.
Facebook presence (profile, content, and updates). Of course, a Facebook presence is much more a personal reflection than a LinkedIn presence. As an assessment of your personality, it shows everything from all stages in your life. But your personality develops in stages. Moreover, elements of your social life (like ‘referenced drug and alcohol use’) are not strong indicators for how you would perform at a job. It is also much more difficult to control a Facebook presence because you have so many audiences.
A personal website gives you a chance to create a deep persona; it puts everything together, so you have control over the impression. You have a home page. This is where you choose an effective style and layout and carefully crafted content to make a powerful fifteen second first impression – a viewer’s gut reaction. You have a blog. Anyone who reads your posts gets a glimpse into how you think and what you have to say. (On my blog, I share stuff about me such as my love of fishing and Grateful Dead improv.) You have video. Create a powerful message across many dimensions – a script, setting, action, etc. Finally, with a personal website, you have full control of all the content, down to the pixel.
You may have to take a personality test and your social media may be reviewed. Regardless, an employer will review your personal website where you own the impression.
To reiterate, there are many other benefits in having a personal website. Here is a presentation of the main benefits of a personal website:
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