The One Thing College Students Always Forget (Which Could Land You That Dream Job)

This article originally appeared on EdenFried.com

Attention college students and entry level graduates – hear me out.  You REALLY need a website, even if it’s a teeny tiny little college student personal website with 3 or 4 pages. Think I’m crazy? Funny, that’s what I think of YOU if you haven’t taken this easy step to differentiating yourself pre-graduation.

Paper resumes (or even PDF copies of resumes) are old fashioned. I was sitting in an office the other day and someone walked in looking to speak to a manager with a stack of paper resumes in hand. High five for sticking your neck out there but we haven’t touched a piece of paper in that office since… honestly, I don’t remember. Seriously, what do you think happens with that paper resume? Someone’s either going to crumple it up and toss it. Or, it will be set down nicely on the corner of some random desk in the “to-file” or “to-scan” pile that never gets touched… ever.

If you’re looking to stand out, you REALLY need to step up your game. There are a million and one people who have exactly the same skill set as you, with similar experience, and maybe even more pizzazz. Give yourself some edge and do yourself a favor – ditch the paper resume, and create a personal website.

Let me clarify: your site doesn’t need to be a blog. It doesn’t need to be some big fancy site that’s topped off with all sorts of cool code. No. Think simpler.

Your site just needs to be a clear and professional representation of who you are and where you want to end up professionally. If you’re an aspiring graphic designer, showcase some of your work. If you’re an aspiring writer, link to your portfolio (better yet, make your site your portfolio). If you’re an aspiring marketer, put some marketing strategies and tactics in play on your site.

So, without further ado ,here’s why I think you’re bonkers if you’re unwilling to make a personal website for yourself during college (or even just after college for those of you like me who were late to the game).

1. Websites are stupid easy to make – so there’s really no excuse not to make one.

I literally hear people moan and groan when I gently suggest they should create a website for themselves. “But I don’t know howww,” they say. News flash: I didn’t know how to make a site either until I actually (wait for it) made one! Much to my surprise, it was incredibly simple. You can stand up a website in less than a day (really less than an hour if you’re really just going for the bare bones) and you don’t need any programming or coding experience to do so.

Seriously – I’m not kidding. I learned how to make a website just because I was fooling around one day.  And then I made another, and another and, what do you know, you’re currently on a website that I made right now.

It doesn’t need to be fascinatingly stunning. It just needs to be clean, put together, and concise. You really only need 3 pages (if you’re going for the basics):

  1. Home page (who you are)
  2. Resume/Professional experience page (no spelling errors here – or anywhere – please!)
  3. Contact Page – simple contact form (you can use contact form 7, one of the most popular WordPress contact plugins out there).
  4. (Optional) Portfolio page – not optional if you’re an artsy person, an aspiring writer, graphic designer, blogger, or anything of that nature that requires you to showcase your past work

2. Websites are incredibly findable and will set you apart

Sure, recruiters and potential employers can find your LinkedIn profile, but they can also find everyone else’s. How does that set you apart?

It doesn’t.

And sure, you might have handed dozens of managers a copy of your resume, or perhaps you emailed a version.  How does that help you get found.

It doesn’t.

Having a website gives you the leg up you need. If you only have a LinkedIn profile, you’re only viewable to the LinkedIn world.  If you hand someone a paper resume, you’re definitely not findable (unless of course they diligently scanned your file into the computer – ha).

If you emailed your resume – there’s a great chance that your email is sitting dusty in the archives.

With a personal website, you’re findable in Google (and all other search engines for that matter) by a much larger audience.  As a college student, a personal website bumps your chances of being found by the right hiring manager at the right time, making your chances to land that dream job much greater.

Since I created my personal website, I’ve gotten job offers via contact form submissions on my contact page. It’s an awesome feeling to turn down those job offers (I’m not look right now, thanks) but if I was… well, I’d be pretty well positioned for success in that department. Why? Because I have a personal website.

3. Creating a website shows ambition and dedication

Why wouldn’t you want to show potential employers how ambitious you are by creating a personal website? Really, though. Why wouldn’t you want that?

Like I said, it’s easy to make a college student personal website. But not everyone knows that. Going the extra mile to give yourself some edge by launching a website will surely set you apart from the competition that’s waiting around in LinkedIn-land for some leads.

And, beyond all of that, building a website shows that you’re capable of living in the technical world. Not everyone knows how to navigate those seas, but you can… because you built a website. So that’s another positive notch in your belt and step in the right direction toward landing your dream job.

4. 80% of Employers Google You Before Inviting You to Interview

That’s worth repeating.  80% of employers will GOOGLE you before they even consider inviting you to interview with them.

If that’s not a wakeup call, I don’t know what is.  Do we really need to go any further?

If your potential employer is likely to Google your name, you sure as hell better make sure that your online presence is clean, professional and positive.  Showcase your work and success throughout your college career by working to rank your name on the first page of google – it’s not such a difficult task (though harder for those with more popular names) but it’s one that job seekers, especially entry level college students/grads, often overlook.

A college student personal website would be an incredible thing for your potential employer to stumble upon while searching for you.  And they’ll likely remember you for it, too.

5.  Investing in a Personal Website is like investing in yourself.

Your website will stay with you for as long as you want it to.  So, by starting a website in college (or just after) you’re literally beginning to lay a strong foundation for your web presence.  It’s better to start sooner, rather than later, so that you can plant seeds to be a credible and professional person online.  Plus, if you purchase your name dot com, that will never (ever) be irrelevant.  Your goals may change over time, but your website has the flexibility and capability to evolve right along with you.

Bonus: There’s help for you yet.

Everyone is always saying they don’t know how to take the first step. Don’t worry, there are resources out there that can help you with the basics.  You can even land yourself Free Website Setup, including step-by-step instructions on registering a domain name, securing web hosting for your site, installing WordPress, choosing a theme, and more.

Perhaps it’s the inner Resident Adviser in me from my college years not to long ago, but I really enjoy helping college students get their careers off the ground.  If you have tips, tricks, or any relevant experiences regarding personal websites as a college student or recent grad, leave a comment below!

Eden Fried is a book nerd, an exercise junkie and a freelance writer. She recently quit her day job and bailed on law school.  Visit her site (EdenFried.com) to learn how she’s building a full time salary from freelance writing and blogging.

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Eden Fried

Eden Fried is a book nerd, an exercise junkie, and a freelance writer. You can follow her journeys at EdenFried.com

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