Building Your eResume

by Joanna June

Do you have an eResume yet?

I think it goes without saying that every day we become more and more digitally driven. Personally, even though I know it is still done, I cannot imagine sending a hard copy of my resume or examples of my work anywhere. I have my emailable versions but, for my professional life, I think a website is the best way to showcase my work and work history.

The eResume can be simple as on online resume or more complicated with pages and/or links of work examples showing your competencies. The latter dives into the ePortfolio territory. As Chris eloquently stated: an ePortfolio is an online showcase and demonstration of your skills and knowledge. Some schools require them and require them to have specific information. For the purposes of this piece I am referring to your online portfolio in a more general sense and to distinguish from a full ePortfolio I’m calling it an eResume. Chis’s reasons for having one and what I outline below can be applied to either/both.

Basically an eResume is an effective way to give potential employers access to your most up-to-date CV and credentials almost anywhere because it is web-based.

With conferences, internships and resultant networking potential, along with the (relative) lull in coursework, building your ePortfolio, eResume, or website is an excellent summer project. Again, Chris already made an excellent case for why you should have an ePortfolio, setting some expectations and guidelines. But what about the how? We received a nice <140 character request from @RobbinZirk to answer this question and, as the resident MSIT hacker, I thought I would try to give some options.

There are two huge, major caveats that one should point out at the beginning of any posts like this.

One: Web tech changes fast. New tools, options, platforms, sites and languages are being developed and, as we recently found with the “sunsetting” of GoogleReader, tech is also disappearing. So this post is probably dated even as I type it yet I will try and give a snapshot of what I see as possibilities. Please add your own in the comments and if something new comes about, I will do the same!

Two: Be smart about anything you put on the web. This is, after all, is supposed to be a professional representation of you and your work. Respect copyright, be choice and proud of the image you are representing, and be incredibly diligent in double and triple proofreading your work. This goes for both your ePortfolio and anything you link to. While I am advocating here some pretty basic platforms, if you begin to really mess around with your site, make sure code and links particularly work across browsers and platforms.

Ok, disclaimers done. It’s time to get building…

Step 1: Gather your info.

Polish up your resume, get to writing that personal statement, and pull together the list of materials that you want to showcase. I think Nicole’s recommendation to look at job postings is an excellent one for this process. My website/ePortfolio is for my tv production work, so I use tv terms and show my work as an editor while linking to some of my “other” talents. As I finish my MSIT, I am building a new site and ePortfolio to more align with the jobs I want — using the language and terms that are standard in those areas.

My advice is to start with something as simple as getting your resume online. You can even use GoogleDocs or Dropbox to create a link to a file that is easily updated. You can follow that with an “about me” up and then flushing out with more examples, pieces of your work and details using a site builder or blogging platform. If you chose to build a full site, you should still have a PDF version of your resume and your CV (if they are different) available for viewing and downloading (check out Brianna’s awesome example).

You should also decide if you are going to link to your various social media streams. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, GoodReads, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, personal blog, professional blog, YouTube channel, etc. could all have their place depending on your style and desired use of those platforms.

We might spend a lot of time worrying about the technology but really: content is king. Spend less time worrying about the method and more time honing your message.

Step 2: Become master of your domain.

Even if you choose to use one of the simple web-presence-building platforms I list below, I think it is worthwhile to own your domain name. You can use a domain registrar like NameSecure.com to see if your desired name is available and then claim it. It is likely going to cost you $10-20 a year and you can set it to automatically renew. I think it is a small investment to make you look that much more professional, not to mention easier to point others to: “Check out my work at VideoJoJune.com” is a lot easier than “go to http://2011.ispace.ci.fsu.edu/~jj10h/”

A huge advantage too is you can then point this name to any other site you wish. When or if you chose a different platform or build your own site, you don’t have to change business cards, your resume or the links or people that your have given your webaddress to. Your domain will always point to your most recent and best content. Most of the platform options I list below have the ability to make it look like you are on your domain when you are really on a free platform (like Tumblr or WordPress).

Step 3: Build it.

As noted, there are tons of options for this step (you can Google “free web sites” for yet more). The most important factor is to find an option you are comfortable working with and making your own. If you are a whiz at HTML, by all means build your own site from scratch and host it. If you didn’t really understand that last sentence, here are some other options.

I tried to find as many free and low-cost options as possible. They are in no particular order and for brevity I am limiting myself to just a sentence or two on each — you can follow the links and poke around and see what is right for you:

  • WordPress – The major blogging platform out there, users include this very blog. Free, fairly easy to use and very customizable, you don’t have to “blog” to effectively use this platform; simply using a series of connected pages would work just fine.
  • Personally hosted sites – I use BlueHost for my personal domains (both WordPress-based blogs and HTML sites) — but there are many, many out there. I also have used Theme Forest to find low-cost templates for both HTML and WP sites (you can search for free ones pretty easily as well to cost-effectively boost the look of your site).
  • Tumblr – Free and quite customizable with free or low-cost themes. It is a blogging platform but could easily be structured for an eResume.
  • Google – A pretty basic site builder but it is free and can connect to your existing gmail address.
  • Blogspot – Google’s blogging platform, similar to Tumblr but a little more basic.
  • LinkedIn – If nothing else, build a LinkedIn profile so your resume and contact information are accessible via the web.
  • Facebook page – Not your personal profile, but a page that you create and people can like. You can save files (like your resume), pictures, links, and even long statuses about projects if you were so inclined. It might not be the most professional but, especially if you were applying for jobs that ask you to have social media chops including familiarity with Facebook, it could work as proof of knowledge.
  • Wix – I haven’t used it but it is a well-rated, hosted, free website builder.
  • Webs – Free trial, low cost from there, another well-rated site builder (that I haven’t personally used).
  • SquareSpace – Low cost, professional-looking hosted sites.
  • Typepad – Fairly low-cost site-builder and host (Seth Godin among many others use it)
  • School hosted site – FSU has server space that we are able to use while in school (a requirement for some classes even). The advantage is that it is free; the disadvantage is that it might not be available once you graduate.

There are many, many others. Again, find something that suits your needs and technical abilities — better that it work well and be simple than some beautifully themed, intricate site that doesn’t convey your information.

Spend the majority of  your creative juices and efforts on your content. Make sure you back it all up locally to your computer and/or put it elsewhere in the cloud. Most of all: get something out there! You never know when you’ll meet someone and want to point them to your site.

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