Freelance writer Ryan Erskine was ready to make the leap to working for someone else full-time. But even though he’d written tons of package copy, articles, and newsletters for the web, he struggled to find a way to set himself apart during his job search.
“I was having a really tough time finding an effective way to highlight my previous work for potential employers. I knew I needed a way to really stand out and showcase what I had done before.”
Applying with a resume and cover letter wasn’t working, so Ryan decided to set up a personal website. His goal? Keep it simple and put his work front and center. As a result, he landed a job.
“When I interviewed with BrandYourself (the company where I work now), I was thrilled to discover that my site had actually played an essential role in landing me the interview. The head of HR found it at the top of Google search results, was impressed by one my blog posts, and felt compelled to reach out. Then, when I met with other members of the team, they specifically brought up my writing portfolio, which I keep on my website.”
Jeff Moriarty a marketer and SEO expert who was in search of an agency job, shares Ryan’s successes with using a personal website to get himself hired. “I built my Squarespace site in about six hours just before I started looking for a new job,” he says. “My first goal was to show my industry knowledge with niche content like videos and blog posts, but it was important for me to share some of the companies I’d worked with in a more visual way and to include testimonials from them.”
Now happily working full-time, Jeff tells us that he confirmed that his site was a definite difference maker in his search—he got hired within three weeks. “It helped me show so much more than my resume or Linkedin profile did,” he notes. “It captures the spirit of who I am, which made the difference when applying for jobs.”
These stories aren’t unique. NYC-based career and business coach Harper Spero agrees that a personal website is a valuable part of your job application materials that you should never overlook. “Studies show that recruiters spend six seconds on a resume,” she says. “This is obviously not a long time to impress them. If your website is featured on your resume, there's an opportunity for someone to spend more time checking you out, sharing your story and work samples, and learning things they never might have never taken the time to dig into about you otherwise.”
How to Build Your Own Job-Landing Website
So, how can you replicate Ryan and Jeff’s success stories? Jeff suggests creating content that’s truly unique to you. “Think of this just like your resume or cover letter: You want to mold it to something the employers you want to work for would like to see.”
Harper advises thinking about your resume versus personal site like a glimpse into who you are versus a deeper look, or as she says, “the nitty gritty.” This might be major career milestones, your side hustle or hobbies, cool press hits, or articles you’ve written for top outlets in your industry. “Reserve the real estate on your website for your very best work, accomplishments, awards, and testimonials,” she advises.
Ryan’s quick to credit his website as the perfect platform for sharing his work and ultimately landing him a job. But if you create a website, and no one sees it, it’s not really doing the trick at all.
His advice? Make sure you update your resume and social media profiles with the link to your website, and include it in your email signature, so when you’re communicating with employers, it’s front and center.
Ryan also recommends registering a domain with your name in the URL
(like RyanErskine.com), and including a solid bio written from a third-person perspective. “This makes your website much more likely to rank for your name when potential employers look you up online,” he says.
“Google doesn't know who ‘I’ am, but it knows my full name. Unlike a standard resume, you have the opportunity to do everything possible to make yourself more discoverable, so take advantage of it.”
As Harper wisely reminds us, taking the time to collect everything you’ve done in one place shows serious initiative when it comes to your job search, and doing won’t go unnoticed—even in unexpected industries. With your revamped resume, genuine content, and a little TLC, your personal site will be a surefire way to majorly improve your chances of landing your dream job.