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.

What is a professional online identity?

With the ever expanding reach of the internet, it is becoming increasingly important to understand how your identity is managed across various web platforms and also developing your own professional identity – something that can act as the primary node for all professional information about you.

The idea of establishing a professional identity is to provide a single source for all professional information about you, so someone looking for you finds everything they need to know about you in one place. If it is comprehensive and integrated enough, it should make further inquiry about you on other web services less relevant. There are a few important characteristics of an effective professional identity:

  1. A unique address. Your identity must have a unique reference point – your own URL works well – http://www.yourname.com
  2. Comprehensive. The platform should store all possible professional information about you. It  is less valuable if the viewer has to search other places to fill in the gaps.
  3. Integrated.  It needs to be able to perform well in all types of web services such as job search boards, search engines, and social media. There should be tools in place for SEO (search engine optimization) and full indexing of the content. In addition, there should be proper referencing for landing pages in social media.
  4. Accessible. The platform needs to be recognized in the industry, and it is crucial that the URLs perform well in all types of search engines – there is no value if the URLs are not found.
  5. Standardized. Viewers of an online identity should have at least some basic expectations of its structure, so they can quickly find the information they are looking for.
  6. Adaptable. As new technologies are introduced, it is crucial that the universal identity platform can be changed to utilize the new technologies. For example, it needs to have functionality to work with cellphone and tablet applications.
  7. Controllable. You should have control over what content is available to viewers and how it is displayed. When you subscribe to web services, you usually can control your content but it is not always clear how it is shared with third-parties.

A well designed professional website has all of these characteristics:

  • You get your own domain name
  • You can enter your contact information and all relevant professional information.
  • Works well in Google search engines, and has a proper paging interface
  • It usually appears high in Google rankings
  • Based on an expanded resume foundation, it is standardized
  • A data-centric approach should make it highly adaptable to new interfaces
  • You own your professional website and control your content

TheProfessionalWebsite offers a professional website service that promotes the development of a professional identity and has all of the functionality mentioned above.