Like An Email Address, You Should Have A Personal Website

Most individuals of a working age would benefit from having a professional website; this means anyone who is becoming educated in their field of interest up to those who are getting ready to retire from their career – in other words anyone aged between 17 and 65. And if someone is retiring but has left behind a “body of work” or wants to continue consulting or has left behind a valuable legacy may want to keep their professional website running after they retire.

I have argued the benefits in having a professional website in many of my previous blogs, including Top 10 Benefits in Having A Professional Website and What is An Online Identity (and there are countless other blogs that discuss benefits).

Often times I respond to individuals who say they do not need a professional website. Here are some of their comments and my responses:

  • I do not use a computer often. Whether or not you use a computer does not necessarily mean you cannot or should not have a professional website. It just means the interface you build one with must make sense and be easy to use.
  • I work in a profession where I am with people all day (such as a social worker or teacher). Many professions require specific education degrees and certifications, which you can share on a professional website. Let’s say you are a fourth grade teacher. A professional website could help you reach out to the parents of your students and share your credentials – such as your educational background and certifications. This can be very reassuring to a parent.
  • I am mid-career professional and in a long-term position, so I do not expect to make any career moves. There are many features of a professional website that make it useful when you are not seeking employment (read previous blog Employed, Why Have a Professional Website). Let’s say you are a project manager for a small-sized IT firm. There are two types of people that can use your professional website to get valuable information about you. The team of workers you manage and your current clients benefit by knowing your skill set and what technologies you are familiar with. Finally, with a professional website, you can help promote your company.
  • I do not have the time to create a professional website. Actually, it does not take much time to create a professional website. You can have the basic structure and content up in about 10 to 15 minutes. Yes, there is a learning curve to learn all the features (partly because of all the functionality), but it is possible to work on your professional website incrementally.
  • I am not sure how to write the content of a professional website. Writing content for a professional website (or resume) is a difficult process for anyone. You need to write succinct, results-oriented statements. Fortunately, you can use features to help you get feedback on what you have written (see blog GroupShare, Resume Review) and much of the content structure is already done for you.
  • I am not gainfully employed and have not been so for a long time. In this scenario, you may not want to share certain sections of your professional website that show you have not worked in awhile. However, if you plan to get back to work, you will need to have something to share with a potential employer – keep up a blog which demonstrates you have something to say. In addition, you can get valuable counseling to help you develop an action plan to get back to work (see blog GroupShare, Counsel Review). Otherwise, if you do not plan to get back to work, maintaining a blog might be a positive way to express yourself.

There are of course a few exceptions of individuals who may not need a professional website; for example, your work may require a security clearance and you cannot share details related to the nature of your work. However, for most individuals and professions, it is beneficial to have a professional website.

TheProfessionalWebsite provides a personal, professional website service.

First Generation of Apps, The Professional Website

One way we would like to differentiate our service from a standard resume or personal blog website service is by giving you the opportunity to present a highly functional, comprehensive application on your homepage; something that can act as the centerpiece of your whole website. The applications we have developed transform data collected from your experiences, attributes, communications, and body of works sections into an interactive program that fits onto a single page. You control what data is fed into the application, though it requires no further time or effort to get an application up and running. Currently we have three applications in production: a professional time-line, professional artifacts, and circle of professional influences.

Professional Timeline. This application presents professional experiences, a body of work, and communications over time. It is extremely versatile; content includes links to files and websites, descriptions, and images. As a visual representation of a professional’s influences over time, it is an effective way to view a professional’s career progression. However, it is of course less effective if you do not have many years of experience under your belt and you may not want to show any gaps in employment.

Sample of Timeline
This shows the basic timeline concept

Professional Artifacts. This application presents a collection of artifacts (as icons) representing professional experience, a body of work, attributes, and communications. You can drag-and-drop the icons to learn more about particular items. It is an interesting way to present everything onto a single web page. Unlike the time-line application, this one has an attributes section where you can display your IT experience and certifications – which might make it a better solution if these are required in your field of interest.

Artifacts Sample
Shows How The Artifacts App Works

Circle of Professional Influences. This application presents four sortable tables in a Microsoft Silverlight interface. You can choose what content you want to display in the tables. For example, you could choose to show employment and education experiences, IT skills, and their regular skills. It is a powerful way to present your most important professional influences.

Circle Of Professional Influences
Sample of Circle Of Influences

The benefits in using an application on your homepage include:

  • Highly functional. Has interactive features that allow for a user to find what they are looking for.
  • Comprehensive. Most of your professional information is summarized and accessible through the application interface, which fits on a single page.
  • More stylistically appealing. Takes advantage of web scripting software to deliver an advanced looking interface.
  • Effective delivery of information. There are intriguing advantages in presenting professional information over time, as an artifact, or in an interactive table.

 We expect to take full advantage of our data-centric approach and develop other types of applications in the near future.

Mobile Website, With Your Professional Website

I wanted to write a quick blog about the first implementation of a mobile website with our professional website service. The mobile website serves much of the same content as the professional website but in a smaller, less-memory intensive form and the stylistic appeal is much simpler. There are a few advantages in having your professional website accessible from mobile devices, including:

  • Being able to disseminate the crux of your professional website to anyone at anytime. The pace of hiring has become faster, and decision makers can be anyone in an organization – someone who may be in front of a computer or in an airport on a mobile device.
  • Making your references readily available. A feature with mobile devices is the ability to “click and call”, so when you provide a reference page, it is easy to call your references directly (it is your discretion which references you want to make available).
  • Making your skill set searchable at anytime. A team working together benefits if its members have access to each others skill set (via mobile devices).
  • Accessing files from your website. You can access the files from your professional website from your mobile device.

Continue reading “Mobile Website, With Your Professional Website”

How to Implement a Pull Approach, Employment Seeking

In previous blogs, I defined what a pull approach is in employment seeking and provided evidence that it could be effective (Pull Approach, Employment Seeking, Evidence A Pull Approach Is Effective). I would like to discuss how you actually implement a pull approach, what do you need to do to get potential employers to visit your professional website. Many of the tactics mirror what businesses do to increase traffic to their websites, though there are some subtle differences; these tactics include: SEO (search engine optimization), social media and job board landing page, participation in blogs related to your field of interest, and presentation of a skill set. It is also worth mentioning that the idea of a pull approach is evolving, so there may become new tactics as web service companies develop technologies to work with a pull approach.

A professional website is built with strong SEO fundamentals, including: the use of meta tags, content rendered as HTML text, and the structure and naming of pages. Meta tags can be used to lure potential employers when they search on keywords in a search engine; you can create meta tags that describe your field of interest, past employment or education, where you live, core-competencies, something you worked on, and any other keywords a potential employer might search on. You can and should use Google Analytics to monitor traffic to your professional website; keep an eye on how many hits you are getting, where the hits are coming from, and what search keywords are driving the traffic. Understand that it may take a few weeks before your website gets fully indexed by the major search engines.
Continue reading “How to Implement a Pull Approach, Employment Seeking”

GroupShare, Counsel Review

A common thread we try to incorporate into the fabric of a professional website is the notion of a skill set; you can present it with your educational, employment, and interest sections and it can be searched through by internal and external sources. In a previous blog, Skill Set Approach, I suggest a progression of establishing your skill set in four stages: planning, building and cultivating, presenting and validating. With Counsel Review, you can invite someone from you support channel to provide insight regarding the planning stage of establishing your skill set.

Like the other GroupShare functions, you can invite anyone to the Counsel Review interface where they login and provide guidance. They can make a general comment or synopsis  – an open-ended statement about career objectives, advise what skills you should consider having as part of your skill set, and suggest what actions you can take to gain experience in these skills.

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GroupShare, Cover Letter Review

A cover letter compliments a resume when applying to an employment opportunity by giving you a chance to tell a short story about yourself in a paragraph. You have a lot of latitude in expressing yourself and in most cases it is drafted for the particular position you are applying to. Since it is a short composition, the objective is to have proper grammar and sentence and paragraph structure while you tell your story. In the administrative interface of your professional website, you can draft cover letters and have them peer-reviewed using Cover Letter Review within the Group Share interface.

Through the administrative interface of your professional website, you can send an email invitation to anyone in your support channel – it could be a career counselor,  classmate, friend, relative, etc. In the email you send them, they receive login credentials to access GroupShare which then leads them to an interface where they can use a rich text editor to give you feedback on your cover letter. You can review their feedback from the administrative interface of your website once they have saved it.

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GroupShare, Resume Review

The content on your professional website should be absolutely perfect and one of the best ways to get there is by using peer-to-peer reviews. While attending a MBA program at the University of Maryland, I remember spending countless afternoons working in small groups providing and receiving feedback to improve the effectiveness of each statement on our resumes; our objective was to maximize the punch of each statement. From my personal experience, it took months before my resume was finished and I think maybe fifteen to twenty of my peers made a contribution. There is no question regarding the value of peer-to-peer reviews.

Resume Review, within GroupShare, is meant to facilitate the process of conducting peer-reviews with your professional website (and your resume considering most of the content is the same). Through the administrative interface of your professional website, you can send an email invitation to anyone in your support channel – it could be a career counselor,  classmate, friend, relative, etc. In the email you send them, they receive login credentials to access GroupShare which then leads them to an interface where they can provide line-by-line feedback of your resume. You can review their feedback from the administrative interface of your website once they have saved it.

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