For the third year in a row, Bustle's Upstart Awards are honoring young women who are doing incredible things in the realms of business, STEM, fashion and beauty, the arts, philanthropy, and beyond. Want to be an Upstarts honoree one day? Read on for career tips, insights, and inspiration to help get you there.
You might think that if you’re not in a “creative” industry, you might not need to create a personal website. Newsflash: every industry is creative, and your personal brand (yes, that term is loathsome, but you know what I mean) could be just the thing that’ll get you hired one day. “A website gives you control over your image,” writes Laurence Bradford at Forbes. Besides that, though, is the fact that a website provides a centralized space to host your résumé, a list of your accomplishments, and a way for someone (who probably wants to hire you!) to contact you. No, you don’t need to maintain a blog on your personal website, but you should make sure to include these seven things to make sure your website is a standout.
If you choose to build a website, it’s a move that will show potential employers that you’re dedicated to your craft (whether that’s freelance writing or mechanical engineering), and that you have the ability to think across different mediums, whether that’s text, photo, video, or even audio — these are all things you can upload to a website that just won’t work on a traditional résumé, and this flexibility is a huge bonus for employers no matter what industry you work in. Showing off these other things, though, could help you get ahead of the game.
Much like with a regular résumé, clean, legible design can make all the difference between your accomplishments standing out, or getting lost in the shuffle of autoplay tunes (seriously, why), unreadable text, wonky fonts, or videos that take up the entire screen. If you’re not making a website for your literal web design biz, may I suggest using a platform like Squarespace, which makes it easy to buy and link a domain name to your site, and comes pre-loaded with customizable, minimalist layouts that will help you show off what people actually come to your website to see.
What’s the point of having a personal website if it isn’t a centralized hub for all things you? Make sure there’s a way for potential employers to get in touch with you, whether that’s through a contact form widget, or by posting links to any (and all) social media you’re okay with an employer seeing. (Twitter and LinkedIn are probably fine; Facebook and Instagram less so.) Make sure this is in a separate page marked “Contact” that you can click to from your website’s landing page, so people don’t get lost trying to navigate your site.
This is one thing a website is particularly good for in comparison with a traditional résumé. On a website, you have space for a way more in-depth biography than a one- or two-line “summary” section. This is a space to both detail your professional accomplishments and let people know a little bit about who you are. This can help people who are looking you up get the whole picture. Feel free to include not just that you increased revenue by 200% year over year at your last job, but also that you volunteer at the humane society in your spare time, or that you make a mean funfetti. Unlike your résumé, you can write this in the first person.
This should be a no brainer, but on a website, you have so much more room to go into detail about your accomplishments, rather than sticking to two to three impersonal lines about your duties. You can include links to places your work has been published, or multimedia projects you’ve worked on — anything! (Anything you’re okay with a potential employer seeing, that is.) Make sure, however, that you’re not throwing everything up on this page — just the best stuff.
If you want to take your list of accomplishments one step further, you might consider adding one or two case studies that detail not only the project and its results, but also the process you took to arrive at the finished product. This might be explaining the steps undertaken to plan and execute a three-day arts festival, or how you developed the social strategy to grow engagement on your company’s digital platforms. Whatever your industry, potential employers will be impressed with your ability to acknowledge setbacks (and how you got past them), and to successfully take a project from start to finish.
And of course, it should go without saying that there should be a link to download your résumé or CV, in case someone’s checking out your website with the intent of recruiting you (rather than a job you’ve already applied for doing their due diligence). This résumé should be the same one that you would send out to an employer, which is to say recently updated.
OK, so this one is, in my opinion, kind of weird, but some people strongly suggest including it. If you have testimonials or recommendations from your managers, past clients, or other people in your (professional) life, you might consider including them on your website. You can do this by having a designer friend whip up artfully designed bite-sized lines that can serve as page breaks on other areas of your site, or by having a dedicated “testimonials” page that people can scroll through. (Also a great self-esteem booster.) If you don’t have testimonials, endorsements, or recommendations, you don’t have to worry that you’re “missing” anything, but if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?
Your website is your place to go into detail on anything that brought you to the professional point you’re at today, and show employers the direction you want to be moving in. If you decide to create one, make sure to keep your goals in mind, and ask yourself how each thing you include is in service of your goals. But you should also make sure to have fun with your website, and get creative with it. Because all things being equal, the one thing that’s going to get you the job you want is you.