On this blog, I've previously mentioned the possibility of having your own podcast or YouTube channel as a way to take control of your brand and increase your visibility and credibility; however, having your own personal website (also known as a "social resume") is another way to take your career to the next level and really stand out from the crowd.
"No One Else Is Doing It"
When you hear me say "having your own personal website", you may automatically begin coming up with excuses why it's not possible:
"I don't know anything about website design."
"It must be expensive."
"How would anyone even see my website, anyway?"
"None of my colleagues have a website and they seem to always find jobs."
"I've never needed a website before."
"Some article I read on the Internet said it's a bad idea."
Well, yes, all of this may seem true; you've never needed a website before, and most of your colleagues would never think of having one. However, the job market is changing, competition for nursing jobs seems to be tightening up these days, and creating a name for yourself and standing out from the crowd does seem more and more difficult to do in a noisy job marketplace. So why not give yourself a leg up? This may be even more crucial for those who want to break into management, a C-level position (eg: Chief Nursing Officer), or other higher-level positions within or outside of healthcare.
There are varying opinions about whether a personal website is really effective in landing a job. In 2011, the New York Times offered a somewhat guarded recommendation of the usefulness of such sites, and Business Insider recommended them strongly in 2015. Meanwhile, Bloomberg nixed the idea completely in 2013. So, you need to decide for yourself, and my jury is still deliberating.
What About LinkedIn?
Regular readers of this blog or listeners to my podcast know that I'm a LinkedIn evangelist, and I even coach healthcare professionals and nurses on the optimization of their LinkedIn profile. Having said that, no matter how robust or optimized your LinkedIn profile may be, it will always look like everyone else's profile, right?
One answer to the conundrum of your LinkedIn profile being so much like everyone else's is to create a custom website that adds yet another layer to your professional online presence.
LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft earlier in 2016, and I can attest to the fact that millions of users are leveraging their LinkedIn presence in a powerful way, including many of my clients. However, if LinkedIn is a piece of the online branding puzzle, your own website it another potentially powerful key to your success in the marketplace over time.
How To Make It HappenWithout a doubt, you want to first purchase your own domain name that brands you as a professional and purchases some of your very own digital real estate that you can have forever. Please don't purchase a domain with someone else's domain name in the suffix (eg: RobinSmithNurse.wordpress.com).
Since .com domains tend to be fairly expensive (and many names have already been bought up), there are other domain "suffixes" that you can consider, such as .me, .info, .net, .us, or .online. Unfortunately, there is not yet a .nurse suffix, but I wholeheartedly support the creation of one. So, if your name is Jeremy Duckworth, and you're an RN, BSN, you can consider purchasing JeremyDuckworthRN.me or some other configuration therein; you may or may not want your nursing credentials in the URL, but I personally think it's a pretty good idea.
I don't recommend trying to learn how to build a Wordpress site from scratch, but if you have such experience already, go for it! Otherwise, purchase a basic "plug and play" site that will be a basic "drag and drop" experience; SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix, and Wordpress templates will each allow you to create a fairly nice site without too much muss and fuss.
You can have several downloadable file versions of your resume available on your website (pdf, Word, etc), but I recommend not having your mailing address, personal email, or personal phone number on those resume versions. Rather, skip the mailing address altogether, create a Gmail account just for your job search process, or create an email through your domain server, like Jeremy@jeremyduckworthrn.me. In terms of a phone number, a Google Voice number is a free way to have a professional number that isn't your own personal number.
If you're at the point in your career where you really want something bold, innovative, and super professional, you can hire a website designer, and you can assume that such an undertaking will set you back at least $1,500 for a very simple site, and upwards of $5,000 for something significantly complex and individualized. For most nurses, a drag and drop site will do just fine.
Use a combination of your social media feeds, LinkedIn profile, personal website, business card, resume, cover letter, networking efforts (online and in-person), and other career-building tools and strategies to promote yourself in a meaningful, authentic way. A personal website isn't the only tool you need; rather, it's yet another brick in the edifice of your career, with your skills, knowledge, and expertise being the foundation. Whether you need this brick in order to build what you want is up to you.
Creating a personal website isn't for everyone, and plenty of people find wonderful positions without the use of one. However, if you're struggling, or if you want to do something outside the box, this is a strategy that could help you.
In a crowded marketplace, you sometimes need to go further than the others to get noticed, so leverage your intelligence and savvy by creating an online presence that really makes an impression on prospective employers and colleagues.
NurseKeith.com and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.
Keith is co-host of RNFMRadio.com, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at Nurse.com.
A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of "Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century." He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews News Service, LPNtoBSNOnline.com, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.
Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.