Workfolio, a web-application that allows users to set up a professional website for their work and career, reports that 56% of the hiring managers they surveyed in an investigation were more impressed by personal websites than by any other method of personal branding used by applicants. Despite this, just 7% of job seekers appear to have a website.
Charles Pooley, the founder and CEO of Workfolio says, "The employment market is an incredibly scary place to be right now as a job seeker-but a personal website offers several important things to improve your odds."
"A website gives you creative freedom to express your personality in ways that are not possible through your resume," he adds. "Everything from the bio paragraph you write to the design options you choose for your website says something about you, and gives recruiters more chances to decide if they want to bring you in for an interview."
Another interesting benefit is that it allows you to gain some control over the results that come up when a recruiter searches you online, especially when the domain is your own name. Having your own website helps you tell the story you want heard. It gives recruiters an insight into your personality and interests, and it will probably give them an idea of whether or not you would be a good cultural fit. Most importantly, you can use it to showcase your best work. This works especially well if you are a writer or designer for example, but it can be done for a number of professions: if you work in marketing, you could include links to work you have managed and projects you have overseen. Ultimately, having a website shows that you are dedicated and serious about your career - which is something all recruiters want to see.
Miriam Selpeter, an expert career coach says, "Having your own website allows you to control what people will find when they search for you. More and more, we hear that employers are Googling candidates to learn more about them. When you have your own website, you have an opportunity to demonstrate a portfolio of information about you and to provide further information (via links) so employers can learn more about you."
So what are the dangers of having a website, and when should you avoid it? As with anything, there are a number of traps you may inadvertently fall into. Before publishing, always make sure that your writing is free from typos and other errors, because at this point, your work represents you. If your work is careless, you too come across as careless. It could also be a bad idea to include personal information that relates to details such as religious or political beliefs. Just as you would keep this off your CV, it is probably best to keep this off your website, unless this information relates directly to your work or your target audience.
Websites also need constant maintenance. They have no expiry date and require ongoing attention. If a recruiter comes across an abandoned personal website, this can again present a picture that you really don't want to paint. Maintaining your website and keeping it up-to-date shows that you are dedicated, tech-savvy and passionate about the work that you do.
According to the Workfolio report, 46% of hiring managers are still as impressed by other forms of personal branding, which leaves a lot of scope for CVs, cover letters and social media profiles like LinkedIn, so if you aren't comfortable with the idea of having a website, don't force yourself into creating one. There are still plenty of other options available to you, and a website is just one of them.