Tonya Vrba is a senior at the University of Iowa. She is double majoring in Journalism and International Studies with a focus on human rights. While studying abroad in Northern Ireland, she earned a Certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies from the University of Ulster in Derry. Tonya started working with DatingSite.Org in August 2011 as a means of gaining writing and PR experience. She is also the creator and writer of Find a Job After College.
By Tonya Vrba
When I attended my first career fair earlier this fall, one of my most surprising selling points ended up being my personal website, “Find a Job After College”. It has many functions – It is a school project, a job search tool, a personal brand and a medium to express my creativity. What has propelled my site into further success are the strategies for self promotion I have learned through my internship at DatingSite.Org. The strategies I use to promote the company are the same tactics I have come to use to promote my personal brand to potential employers.
I am convinced that every college student should have a personal website to promote themselves. As students, we hear a lot of advice about networking and job searching. In my experience, the most successful students are the ones who are innovative in how they promote themselves. For example, I got a LinkedIn account after being repeatedly told by professors and advisors that I should. By this time, however, having a LinkedIn account was not unique but expected. Nicole Crimaldi, founder of Ms. Career Girl, Inc., told me in an interview “If you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist to recruiters.”
“I predict the next step in the evolution of resumes to be personalized professional websites… Innovation is not in the blog itself, but what you do with it.”
Consider the Technology Adoption Life Cycle. First, only a few people – called visionaries and technology enthusiasts – use a new technology or technique. Eventually the majorities of people adopt the technology and finally, after everyone else has begun using the technology, the skeptics give in and start using it as well. When promoting yourself, you want to be the innovator. Use a new tactic while it is still new.
Resumes have evolved into creative resumes and now further into Presumes (Prezi + resume). I predict the next step in the evolution of resumes to be personalized professional websites. Be an innovator. Take a risk. Promote yourself in a way few others have. These are the things that will make you stand out.
Blogging sites have been around for a long time. Innovation is not in the blog itself, but what you do with it. Use the blog to promote yourself and your personal brand. I use WordPress.com, a free blogging platform, as I know many professional companies that use a paid form of WordPress for their sites. Using WordPress specifically helps me because I am learning skills I will use on the job to create my personal blog.
As a journalism major, having a blog is an ideal way to showcase my writing style. Many other creative forms of study benefit from blogs as places to showcase videos, art, music or anything else you create. For other areas of study, a personal website may be less of a blog and more of a portfolio.
Create a page for your resume, complete with links to the websites of previous employers. Interview yourself and post the video. Create a Presume and show off your creativity, personal style and ability to easily learn new technologies. These are qualities every employers wants.
By far the most important tactic I’ve learned from my work with datingsite.org is networking. Find a company you may like to work at someday. Research them and post your research on your website. Link to the company website and email them about your interest. You don’t have to be in a creative area of study to do this. I talk a lot on my blog about passion and how important it is to employers. What better way to show off your passion than to research and promote a company of your own free will?
If you read my previous posts on my career fair experience, you will know that this action is the most important. The interview I got was not a result of meeting them at the fair or having a creative resume. They wanted to talk to me before the career fair even started. They had seen my face and my work online already. My personal website and interest in their company is what got me that interview. It’s what will get you one as well.
Do you have a personal blog or website showcasing your resume or jobhunt? Leave a link in the comments below!