Employed, Why have a Professional Website

Every professional should have their own professional website, whether they are seeking employment or are gainfully employed; here are some clear advantages for someone not necessarily looking for employment:

  • Establishing an online professional identity.
  • Owning and choosing how to “project” your content.
  • Sharing a “body of work”.
  • Validating your proficiencies in technologies, languages, etc.

LinkedIn has built an effective network of professional profiles and a compelling argument that everyone (not only job seekers) should use their network – evident by the size and scope of their network and average age of their user (41 years old). However, as argued in our previous blog Network Vs Identity, they successfully built a network and have only started to develop depth in their profile. A professional website should substitute the need for a LinkedIn profile and act as the central node for all networks across the internet.

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Perfect Content

Not sure what you pay more for in business school, getting an education or learning how to write an effective resume. I remember countless peer reviews, where we picked through each other’s resume! Like a resume, content on your professional website has to be perfect.

Here are three stages for getting content right on your professional website:
Get Content On The Page

  • Obviously, every word has to be spelled correctly and every sentence has to be grammatically correct. Use a grammar and spell checker, and make sure you check it yourself many times – bet you a dime you will continue to find errors after the third time you’ve read it.
  • Use “Action Verbs” – verbs that are sharp and best fit the action you are trying to describe.
  • Check the frequency of your verbs; their tenses should follow a same pattern throughout your professional website.

Succinct, Results-Oriented Content

  • Wherever possible, quantify your results… “Developed more than 20 different websites.”
  • Be precise when you can… What was the name of the company you worked with? What was the name of the person you worked with (could he/she be a reference)?
  • Keep the description of your educational projects and employment responsibilities – line items on a resume – point on.
  • Take advantage of a professional website and its multi-dimensional features; enrich the content by adding interactive elements: more content, a reference, a web address, etc.
  • Reference the skills you used for particular experiences. Skills can be used as keywords to search through your professional website.

Peer Review

  • Get feedback from your support channels: your peers, a career center, professional writing services, etc. The more people who read your professional website content the better. Don’t be discouraged if at first you get a lot of constructive criticism, it is part of the process. Remember enlightening feedback is like gold.

TheProfessionalWebsite service offers many tools to help a user through the above-mentioned getting “perfect content” process.

Add Content: Without Professional Experience

Recent college graduates are faced with a dilemma when they seek employment but do not have enough experience to put on their resume. There are a few ways to get more content on a professional website when you have little professional experience.

Use the concept of “projects”. Projects represent a line-item on a resume under the education section, where you can discuss courses, papers, presentations, or activities you worked on. This is an excellent opportunity to share information related to your educational experiences, whether you are working on or completed an undergraduate or advanced degree. It can add what could be “much needed” content to your professional website.

Adding a “mission statement”. This is a way for a viewer to get a better understanding of your career goals and how you plan to achieve them. When applying to an employment opportunity, this gives added context for them to review you. Any “added content” will make you standout.

Create and post a short video. Develop a video where you talk about what you want to do or possibly demonstrate it. For example, consider you are applying to be a foreign language interpreter, shoot a video of yourself conversing in that language. This idea of sharing a video about yourself became popular in the undergraduate college application process; applicants separate themselves by sharing a well thought out, creative video. Obviously, applicants to undergraduate college programs have little professional experience as well.

Post a blog about your interests. There are many benefits in having your own blog. First, it shows your personality, a viewer can really understand you better; there is nothing better than reading an actual sample of what you choose to write about. It can be an enlightening experience for the viewer. Second, it is a writing sample, if a blog is well written, it can be a positive reflection on your writing skills. Finally, it shows how you handle feedback, an interactive blog demonstrates your ability to respond to criticisms and acknowledgments. All professionals should consider writing a blog, especially for those with less supporting content on their professional website. Business/IT programs suggest that their students write blogs.

It can be frustrating trying to create a resume when you have little professional experiences. Though, it is important to remember that for the jobs you are applying to, competing applicants are faced with the same dilemma. The strategy is to find ways to provide added content to separate yourself from the competition. A professional website offers many ways to add this “much needed” content, including the use of: projects, a mission statement, video, and a blog.

Top 10 Benefits of A Professional Website

Up until recently, the idea of having your own professional website was somewhat limited to certain professions – like IT professionals, professors and researchers, artists, etc.. For each of these professions, a professional website made sense: IT professionals demonstrate their proficiency in different technologies, professors and researchers reference their publications, and artists, web designers, graphic designers present their portfolios. However, if you perceive a professional website as a multi-dimensional resume and an online identity, then it makes sense that everyone should have their own website throughout their career. Here are the top ten reasons why you should have a professional website:

First, it establishes your online identity. It can be your primary reference or node in the complex network of the internet. In other words, it might be what you want to appear first in a Google search about you or something you identify yourself with in social media. You will setup your own domain – typically www. yourname .com – which will be your unique address.

Second, it is standardized – built on the framework of a resume. One of the major benefits of having a standardized website is that it works well with other external platforms such as search engines and job boards.

Third, it is dynamic. You can make updates anytime, and the changes are reflected on the website immediately. The data centric approach of a professional website makes changing content extremely easy.

Fourth, it is accessible. It can be found in all major search engines and whatever other directories you choose to subscribe to.

Fifth, it is comprehensive. Using a data-centric approach, it is meant to collect all pertinent information about you and store it in a database. If the data becomes irrelevant, simply hide it from appearing on your website.

Sixth, it is interactive. There are many interactive elements built into the interface that promote further communication.

Seventh, it has rich-content. A problem with a standard profile or resume is that it is one-dimensional. A professional website supports videos, blogs, apps, and interactive elements, all of which enhance the content and provide a richer experience for the viewer.

Eighth, it is an excellent way to share a “body of work”. The advantages of a professional website is you can share actual examples of your work – either through linking or uploading files. As mentioned earlier, many professions look to a professional website to share their work – like publications, artwork, websites, etc.

Ninth, it presents a “skill set”.  Many of the major companies offering professional profiles, such as LinkedIn and MonsterJobs, have added the use of skills in their profiles and commonly use them in their searches. The use of a skill set is interwoven into the framework of a professional website; there are tools to help you develop your skill set.

Tenth, the website is yours. You own all of the content on your website.

Use of Self-Contained Platforms

In current web development, there is a balance between a functional integrated approach and a visually appealing approach to designing a web page. Web designers often use “self-contained platforms”, such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, to distinguish their website stylistically speaking. These platforms have an interface to create applications with video, audio, animation, and charting – all of which make it easier to have a standout web page. However, there are two main drawbacks with over-dependence on self-contained applications.

First, a visitor to the page must host a reader application on their computer – something that creates another set of problems. If the reader is not on the visitor’s computer, they will be interrupted to download and install it – an annoyance. In addition, as there are advancements in the platform, the visitor has to download and install updates to the reader application; surely you have gotten that pop-up message from Adobe saying it is time to upgrade to the new version of Adobe Flash.

Second, there is almost no external integration with a self-contained application. It is possible to integrate them with a database ( Action Script with Flash and XAML with Silverlight), but otherwise the application cannot work with its external environment. An example is developing a page for search engine optimization (“SEO”) with Google (or any other search engine).

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Professional and Personal Content

As you strategize the development of an online identity, you must choreograph how your content is disseminated across social media and profile web services. For any clear professional web services, such as LinkedIn or MonsterJobs, any content you publish must follow proper professional etiquette, serve a purpose, and be carefully scrutinized; the web content should follow the same guidelines as a paper resume – everything is spelled correctly, grammatically correct,  succinct, etc..  For all other web services, the guidelines you use to publish content become trickier. Personal content once completely irrelevant in a professional context is becoming relevant. Consider when you apply for an employment opportunity, there is a very good chance your Facebook profile and posts will be reviewed even though this content most likely falls under the umbrella of “personal content”.

Before publishing any personal content on a web service, you should understand what boundaries the web service offers to keep your content personal and accessible to your intended audience. Anyone who uses Facebook can quickly realize how content can be shared without any regard of who is viewing the content. This is because when you sign up for a Facebook account, the default settings for a Facebook account are very open and public. Often times, you make a post on your wall and it is shown on the wall of every person you have friended. Google + recognized this potential “issue” and developed the concept of “circles”, which creates clear boundaries of what content you are sharing and who you are sharing it with. This interface has its clear advantages.

When you publish professional content, you should follow proper etiquette and make sure the content is polished. When you publish personal content, you must consider the “boundaries” of the web service that determine who has access to your content – keeping it “personal”.  If you are comfortable with who has access to the content, then your content can be more “free form” in its structure and open with what it projects. Otherwise, if there are no “boundaries” in place, you should consider publishing your content in a professional form because it may be accessed in a professional context.

Network Vs Identity

On some social media platforms, it appears that the development of a “network” preceded  that of an “identity.” The biggest, most popular web services, Facebook and LinkedIn, concentrated their efforts on building networks, vast connections of professional and personal relationships that transformed how we interact with each other.  However, only in the past year have Facebook and LinkedIn really begun concentrating their efforts on building the “identity” features of their services. For example, Facebook added educational and employment experiences to their profile and a time-line this year. Likewise, LinkedIn significantly increased the depth of their profile by adding skills, sections, and much more. As network theory suggests, building the network first was an effective strategy to increase the value of their platform and services; the importance of individual profiles was secondary.

But does that put the cart before the horse? I suppose it depends on what you are aiming for, what type of network you want. You can look at a network traditionally – connections produced by a particular web service. Facebook has its network, and LinkedIn has its network and each finds ways to leverage the information they collect about you, your preferences and connections to generate revenue. But what if the notion of “your” network was much wider in scope – covering the entire internet; then web service networks are simply sub-networks. Moreover, on “your” network , you own your content. If this is the type of network you want, then your objective with an identity is to manage your information across the internet, including a multi-faceted strategy for all social media and online profiles.

Managing multiple identities across different web services causes the following problems: redundancy, confusion about who owns what and whether or not what you do is private or public, difficulties in managing relationships with others, and (over) inclusiveness. First and foremost, redundancy: there is unnecessary duplication of effort and content. For example, Google +, Facebook, and LinkedIn all prompt you to add your educational and employment experiences. This clear inefficiency is not only time-consuming, but could also lead to mistakes. Second, ownership:  it is difficult to maintain ownership of your content.  The terms of service often require you assign ownership or license your content without restriction. Every web service has their own “privacy policy” and “service agreement” with you. Most of the social media services ask for you to give up some of your privacy in return for providing you a free service. Third, managing relationships: each social media or profile web service has their own way of presenting profiles and interactions, so they require your specific attention. Facebook has a personal approach – so you may be more willing to intimate content like images, stories, etc.. Alternatively, LinkedIn has a professional approach – so you are probably only going to share information or make connections that advance your career or reputation. Finally, inclusiveness: a single web service profile cannot capture all of the information about you.

With the rise of social media, it has become increasingly important to develop your own online indentity– something that interacts with social media and profile services. You should have full control over your content and choose how it gets disseminated to various web services.  A well developed personal, professional website could be the answer.