How to set up your job seeker website

job seeker website

By Kiki Schirr, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Designers, developers, and people in technical roles have long been creating online portfolios when looking for a job. Since the “warm introduction” is vital in many industries, having a landing page for friends-of-friends to share can be invaluable. And even when applying to roles through more traditional applications, including an online portfolio in a job seeker website might get you a second look from a hiring manager.

But what should such a site include? What does a good marketing job-seeking website look like? Should you use WordPress? I’ll cover all that in this article.

Let’s start with how you should set up your job seeker website.

Setting up your job seeker website

The most common CMS (content management system) for websites has been WordPress far longer than I thought it would be. Although it feels like it’s been around forever, maintaining a WordPress site is still a highly valued and surprisingly rare skill.

For that reason, I recommend you create your portfolio website on WordPress. For an even more prestigious display of your skills, deploy it yourself so you learn how to get it set up on a hosting service.

When it comes to choosing a hosting service, every blogger seems to recommend Cloudways or  DigitalOcean. (perhaps motivated by DO’s lucrative referral program).

What hosting service will show off my digital savvy?

If your goal is to impress future employers, you’re better off deploying WordPress to AWS (Amazon Web Services). The digital services branch of Amazon began as a maze of awful documentation and poor support but has become surprisingly user-friendly of late. You can capitalize on its old reputation by learning to use it well before everyone knows it’s easier than they’ve heard.

The most difficult part of getting a new website up is usually handling the DNS (Domain Name System). A best practice is buying your domain (the technical term for a text-based URL like businessesgrow.com) from someone other than your hosting service. If you have two providers it’s less risky when one service is attacked or otherwise interrupted. Sites like WordPress.com offer a domain for an additional fee with their hosting services. Don’t buy such a bundle for security reasons.

In the past, I’ve been happy using typical DNS registrars like NameCheap or IWantMyName. However, I recently used Google Domains. I was surprised at its simplicity, especially the ease of adding Google Workspace services. You might consider Google Domains if you also want to have a “[email protected]” email address run by Gmail.

Writing the About page for your job-seeking website

When writing your About page, be creative and show off your language skills. Whatever you write should showcase not just your work history and talents but also your interests and copywriting chops. This article has some great guidelines on creating a professional but engaging About page.

If your writing has gotten rusty or if you’ve never taken time to sit and study the basics of professional communication, these tools will help. Start with grammar basics in Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Learn copywriting 101 from Ann Handley in Everybody Writes. Another useful idea is to research how employees write at your prospective companies. This article about writing 6-pagers at Amazon is a great example.

One interesting technique you could try is to tailor your copy to each job posting. This would allow you to mirror the keywords from each job description, as you would in a cover letter or resume. This is very important these days as your documents are likely run through an AI-based program before seeing a human HR manager.

One word of caution about mirroring keywords—some job descriptions are not written by experts. A warning sign is odd descriptions of tasks typical in your industry that would be better described by well-known lingo. In those cases, don’t mimic incorrect or non-standard terms. Even if the human lacked knowledge, the AI is likely to be savvier about industry-specific terms. Rely on your knowledge base to avoid being kicked out of the job pool prematurely. This FastCompany article goes into more detail.

Common mistakes in the job seeker website

It’s smart to tailor your page to each role. However, if you make large errors, it can completely undermine your effort. Just be sure not to make these three common mistakes:

  1. URL mismanagement – You’ll probably want to customize your tailored URL beyond adding a subdirectory that’s their company name. If you do, a human reviewer is likely to get curious and compare “yourname.com/theircompany” to “yourname.com/theirbiggestcompetitor” to see if you’re also applying to the Dark Side. Whoops. So make each URL logical but difficult to guess at random. You can use URL shorteners or QR code generators if you like, or just get creative. And whatever you do, give your target the correct URL! You don’t want to apply to ACME with a resume saying how much you love Dunder-Mifflin.
  2. Differences without explanation – Even if you prevent a hiring manager from typing in their competitor’s URL, that won’t stop the savvy from heading to your main page at “yourname.com” to see which parts you’ve changed for them. When you deviate from your standard boilerplate, make it clear that you’re addressing that company in particular about a strength you might not generally highlight but is relevant to their role. Try beginning the page with a header like “Hi Amazon! This is why I would be a great [role title]” and reference the position again near any changed data or new examples.
  3. Resume and site don’t match – When you create multiple sites, be sure your resume reflects the changes and submit the one that complements its tailored site.

Should you track links?

If you submit a paper or online resume, there’s always a chance no one will visit your site. As a marketer, it is tempting to use a URL shortener with link tracking to see when/if each employer clicks through to your page. However, I don’t think that’s in your best interest. Link trackers have a negative stigma as being an invasion of privacy.

A more accepted form of tracking is to install Google Analytics on your landing page. You can use a WordPress widget to input the GA code. If you do, be sure to also find a widget for GDPR compliance. You need to prove you’re compliance-savvy, even if you aren’t applying to European-based jobs.

What should a Portfolio page include?

Adding a Portfolio page to your job seeker website will showcase your past successes in tangible terms. You should focus on brevity, providing proof or data, and making the content engaging. Even if you’re primarily a copywriter, adding visuals will benefit you. Even large images of the first few words or other text-based graphics will help.

Consider your examples miniature case studies. Address questions like:

  • what was the task or goal
  • who was the audience
  • what was your role
  • how did you evaluate success, and most importantly:
  • why did your contribution make a difference?

You can list student projects here if you’ve graduated within the last few years. However, real-world and customer-facing examples are always better.

What about providing social proof on your job seeker website?

a gold-framed tweet created by stickermule's Framed Tweet service, a joke about how proud people are of their best tweets, even if useful for your job-seeking website

You might not have to buy actual Framed Tweets from StickerMule, but playing up your Internet fame could be useful

If you think your experience is too sparse, you can bolster it.

The difficult but more rewarding method would be to volunteer at a local charity. Make clear at the beginning what time commitment you can allot. As you wrap up, be sure to show them how to maintain what you created. If you do this while providing value to the non-profit, you’ll finish with more than real-world experience. You’ll also likely have a glowing recommendation from a respected community member.

Another method is to utilize social proof about yourself in the same way you would for products. Quote that recommendation from your non-profit’s volunteer coordinator. Display the logos of any publications you’ve written for. Link to press mentions… Heck, you could even use an image of your most viral tweet, assuming that it is professional.

And even if you’re strong on experience, it is well worth including on a job-seeking website.

In-demand marketing skills to highlight

It might feel like social media and content generation wages are dropping. But although some roles seem discouragingly underpaid, it’s mostly because there’s a glut of untrained but passionate social media users seeking entry-level roles. If you have more versatile skills, there are more rare ones to highlight that will ensure you prestigious roles or higher wages.

This Indeed.com analysis of which marketing roles have the highest salaries provides keen insight. I then searched these roles and compiled their unique qualifications and required skills. From this, I was able to summarize them into three in-demand fields:

User Research

Many companies are looking for marketers who can prove they listen to customers through qualitative data. That generally means devising unbiased surveys and customer interviews, compiling user feedback and reviews, and being able to report solid statistics and future strategies to the higher-ups. Be sure to highlight these skills on your job-seeking website.

Skills include:

Product Management

Although many Product Managers might protest that theirs is not a marketing role, that’s likely only because technical roles pay so well. Product Management has a strong marketing component. Although such a role might feel like a change in direction, you’ll be surprised at how many marketing skills will transfer.

Skills include:

  • User Research – Mapping the Customer Journey, tools like UserTesting.com and UsabilityHub
  • Wireframing Software – InVision, Sketch, Figma, Balsamiq
  • Product Management Tools – Aha, Craft.io, ProdPad
  • Being Able to Communicate with and Relate to Developers – be familiar with tools like Jira, Trello, Github, Scrum, Know Your Meme, and Discord

Product/Market Optimization

Marketing roles are increasingly utilized to pivot a product into Product-Market Fit. These roles exist both in startups and within new product development teams in larger companies. It might be your job to understand that your waterproof speaker is used more in the shower than on a boat as your boss thought. Or you might be the first to realize that using “dude” 12 times on your landing page is causing your core customer to bounce. These skills pay off quickly. If you can do (or learn) any of the following: make sure that’s shouted on your job-seeking website!

Skills include:

If you already have or create a job-seeking website, you can feel free to paste the [appropriate] link below. Show us what tips you’ve used and how you’ve innovated upon these ideas–and get your resume seen by more people.

Good luck, my friends, 2020 hasn’t been kind to everyone’s career — but your marketing chops will help you out! Keep reading the {grow} blog to stay current. And here’s to an easier 2021!

KikiSchirrKiki Schirr is a freelance marketer and writer who enjoys new technologies. You can email Kiki Schirr at her full name without spaces at Gmail. Just remember that she responds faster on Twitter.

Image of gold-framed tweet taken from a StickerMule Framed Tweets mock-up.  Top image courtesy Unsplash.com

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