Why you need a website

Let me set the scene for you: you’re a recruiter going through several hundred resumes. Each candidate has listed the usual stuff: where they went to school, where they previously worked, and their projects. How do you filter? You might filter by their experience (more experience, especially at bigger companies, is better), but you still have maybe 100 candidates. And maybe 50 of those have good projects. You need a quick way to find the best. Maybe 10-15 of those might have a website. Suddenly, you can see first-hand what their work looks like. How are their design skills? Can they decide on maybe two fonts and be consistent? Is their color scheme good? A lot of people use their websites as a portfolio of their projects, so you can actually see the projects first-hand. What technical skills do they have? In general, it’s not too hard to tell what they used to make the website–so if you’re applying for a web developer role and used WordPress to make your website, it’s not a good look; for something else such as a graphic designer, it shouldn’t be a problem.

A website is a great way to showcase your skills and achievements. You can be as creative with your design as you like, and display your technical skills. For example, DNS is not hard, but having a custom domain and an email address on that domain means you have worked with it. Making your website with React means you have some experience with it. Better still, a link to a different full-stack project you built shows those skills. Maybe you built a React/Redux app and deployed it on AWS with a Node.js backend and a DynamoDB database. Your website is the perfect place to show off this work. You can also link to your socials–a LinkedIn, Google Scholar (if you’re in research), and a GitHub are pretty common.

Having a website makes you stand out, since a lot of people (even in tech) do not have one. Remember: a recruiter going through your website is them spending more time on you than other candidates. Of course, this is a double-edged sword of sorts–if your website looks like it’s from 1997, they’ll likely pass (unless you’re someone high-profile like Richard Stallman).

Your website doesn’t have to be fancy: in academia, a simple website like this is pretty common; in tech, there are all sorts of different websites ranging from very simple, to very sophisticated. Realistically, as long as it conveys the information you want it to (which could be your interests, experience, anything really) and isn’t terrible, you should be fine. You shouldn’t worry about not having much to say: those without websites aren’t saying anything whether or not they do. A couple of things you could put on your website if you aren’t sure where to begin:

  • What are your career goals, and what kind of roles are you open to?
  • Where do you currently work, and what have you accomplished so far (without breaking confidentiality agreements)?
  • What experience do you have and what technologies do you know?
  • What’s a hobby of yours? Talk about what you do, and how you’re getting better.

That’s really all I have to say. It’s not too hard to make a website. If you have absolutely no clue how, you could use something like WordPress to make one, but note that using WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors like that is a generally more expensive route than coding your own.

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