Update Aug 4, 2020: The below was written for the publication Uloop. It has been preserved for authenticity.
It’s quite amusing to me that there is a single document that defines our academic and professional history. A piece of paper that sums up how well you did in school, how hard you worked and where you dedicated your time. We’re expected to carefully outline and space each category so that it’s aesthetically pleasing and paints the best picture of ourselves. And yet, there’s never enough room to fit everything we want without making it look like a page from Moby Dick. So then you have to leave good information off, or else break the no-more-than-one-page rule (how dare you be too involved).
If only there was a better way to give the world a more accurate and full perspective of who you are and what you have to offer. Lucky for us, technology came along and gave us the improved, more robust incarnation of the resume: the personal website. Now, instead of briefly listing job responsibilities or a generic description of past experience, we are able to create detailed prose about what we’ve done and what we’ve learned. If you don’t actually know what your job responsibilities were, this will give you a chance to think of something to say for when you’re asked. Break down each activity or project that you were apart of, instead of generalizing them as “Assisted coworkers with development projects” (I mean…that’s what my resume says).
Maybe you have a creative personality. Maybe you work on side projects in your free time. Create an online portfolio displaying your past work that you want the world to see. You may even be looking to sell your work. If so, simply add a ‘Buy Now’ button to your site. Add links to all of your social media (only if you want other people to know it’s you, of course). Start it as a blog where you write about something you’re passionate about (read more about that here).
What you might be thinking right now is, Erik, building a personal website is too hard, takes too much time, and costs a lot of money. And I assure you that none of those are true. Well it does take time, but I guarantee that it’s worth it. There are a number of free or inexpensive, easy to use website builders including WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace (these are merely suggestions, I am not promoting one over the other). These services are built specifically for people who want a simple way to make good looking websites. Next, if you want to look even more professional, you can buy your own domain name (I use Hover). This is the address you type that ends in .com, .net, .org, etc. Or they have more descriptive, creative options like .artist, .tech, .me, etc. Now you can add this URL to the top of your resume.
So, the next time someone says “tell me more about yourself” or “can I take a look at your resume”, make sure you end the conversation with “You can find everything you need to know about me at yourname.com”.
P.S. Tune back in next week for the second benefit of having your own website.