Want to change careers? You’re definitely not alone. That’s why we’ve partnered with Squarespace to create this special four-part series on how to navigate the transition, complete with worksheets to guide you every step of the way. Find Part 1 here, read on for Part 2, then stay tuned for the rest of the series (coming soon!).
One of the biggest challenges of a career change can be convincing a hiring manager that you’re qualified for a different role or industry. The first step in overcoming this hurdle is updating your resume with the right transferable skills and keywords—as well as creating a straightforward resume website (it can even be a single page!).
But if you want to create a richer online presence—with elements like case studies and testimonials, for example—that expands on your story, there is another option. Enter: the personal website.
Not only does a personal website provide more space to showcase who you are, but it can also set you apart from other job seekers. In fact, according to one survey, 56 percent of hiring managers cited personal websites as the most impressive tool candidates can have to support their job search.
Take it from Brittany Cole, CEO of Career Thrivers, who created a personal website when transitioning out of a sales job into marketing. “I made one to increase my visibility and showcase how I’d upskilled to prepare for a marketing role,” says Cole, who landed the job (and then went on to transition again into her current profession as a career consultant and coach).
Here’s how to get started on a personal website that’ll help you make that career switch once and for all. (And don’t forget to download our step-by-step worksheet that will guide you through the process!)
Do Your Research
Before designing your site, take a look at the personal websites of several folks who work in your desired field. (We’ve also included a few real examples from Squarespace here; find more on their website.) Not only will this help you get an idea of what elements you should include on your site (and what creative direction to take), you’ll be able to see their experience and how they got to where they are now.
“Oftentimes people will put their personal websites on their LinkedIn profiles, and looking at both can help give you the whole picture of their career path,” says Tiffany Dyba, the founder of Tiffany Dyba Coaching & Consulting. “It’s always important to see what others in the space are doing and what has made them successful.” She also suggests looking on Instagram accounts for links to personal websites if you’re trying to transition into a creative field like graphic design or photography.
Pick the Best Format and Design
When thinking about what template to choose, consider what message you’re trying to send to a future employer. “For example, if you’re an architect or artist, you may prefer a portfolio-style template to showcase images of your work,” Cole says. “If you’re an attorney or healthcare provider, you may want to choose a blog template that gives you an opportunity to better share your expertise.” Squarespace makes it simple by providing plenty of easy-to-modify templates that are searchable by topic (such as “portfolio” and “personal & CV”).
You also want to keep the industry—and the kinds of employers you’d like to work for—in mind when deciding on a color palette, fonts, and language. “Is the work culture a fun and casual atmosphere of a startup or more of a corporate environment?” Cole says. “Should your language be short, snappy, and quirky, or more professional and conservative?”
Include the Right Elements
According to Cole, every personal website should have the following elements:
- Professional headshots
- Examples of your work
- A bio
- Contact information
She also recommends including other areas of impact, such as leadership in internal employee resource groups, industry associations, and community service that relate to the career change you are looking for.
For more insight, you can speak to hiring managers who work in your desired field to find out what they look for in a website, such as testimonials, case studies, and the like. “For example, in my sales role, I wanted to showcase that I had the capabilities to be a great marketer, so I included elements like a blog and lead magnet to capture emails,” says Cole.
Another element you could consider including is a video in which you share your personal narrative and why you’re looking to change careers. (Squarespace makes it easy to upload videos from a number of different hosts, including YouTube and Vimeo.)
“This provides an opportunity to add your personality and give the viewer a chance to learn more about you,“ Cole says. But if you go this route, Dyba says, “You need to figure out what the message of the video is and how it will help hiring managers understand who you are and the value you bring.”
A career change is not something that happens overnight. Rather, it takes time to get all of the elements you need in place—and a personal website is a great place to start. “I like when someone really lets us into their world and is really able to show us more than what we see on a resume,” Dyba says. “After all, people hire people—not a bullet point on a resume.”