Things are looking up for tech writers. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts an above average growth trend for technical communicator positions nationally. Despite the good news, many of us still face a competitive and often frustrating job hunt. We mine through job postings, submit cover letters and resumes, attend job fairs, and meet with college career counselors. Yet, we still cannot land that dream job. What’s missing? How can we get a competitive edge?
More and more people are discussing the benefits of having a personal website while searching for a job. Forbes staff writer Jacquelyn Smith believes that personal websites are now crucial resources for the job hunter. She finds that a majority of “hiring managers are more impressed by a candidate’s personal website than any other personal branding tool.” Yet, only a small minority of job hunters actually has one. Considering this increased interest by hiring professionals, job seeking technical communicators, always mindful of their audience, should give hiring personnel what they want.
The personal website becomes a single dwelling that houses all the relevant information necessary to evaluate the prospective employee. Smith provides a list and explanation of the necessary requirements to promote your qualifications, which includes both traditional forms, like resume and writings samples, and more innovative forms, like links to blogs and multimedia. Including links to your works published online gives employers a sense of your capacity to write in multiple genres.
For the tech writer, the personal website becomes an online portfolio. Portable and easily updated, the online portfolio provides human resources personnel an opportunity to review functional examples of your work prior to an interview. Tom Johnson suggests including a “quick reference guide, a user guide, online help file, video tutorial, newsletter article, release note, magazine article, and any other format you can think of.” Experienced tech writers can be discriminating in what to place on the site. Students with limited samples should put what they have available and create samples of other genres. Examples should highlight your diverse skills and demonstrate your ability to communicate persuasively in a sophisticated, relevant, and technically savvy manner.
If you remain reluctant, thinking that perhaps it is too expensive to launch this innovative job hunt tool … DON’T.
A personal website designed to market yourself as technical communicator par excellence does not require a domain name or expensive hosting. Rather, you can easily create a personal website through various do-it-yourself website builders at no cost. Beautifullife offers a comparison of the top fifteen free website builders and their basic features. Among those making the list, I personally reviewed Wix, Doodlekit, and Moonfruit and found each user-friendly, requiring no coding knowledge whatsoever. All three provide user support to set up and maintain the website. Wix and Moonfruit offer video tutorials, as well as help forums to assist users in the website development. Doodlekit offers a more limited help page through a support forum. Each of these website builders provides various template designs to create the job hunter’s professional online image and to house the owner’s sample work and credential information. Wix, however, offers the most variation and sophistication in its gratis offerings.
One notable absence from Beautifullife’s listing, which reviewers note, is Google Sites. Google Sites allows those Google Gmail account holders to create multiple, individual websites – something the other three sites do not allow without a charge. More streamlined than Wix, Doodlekit, or Moonfruit, Google Sites can still generate an aesthetically pleasing self-marketing website through its dozens of templates. Like other website builders, Google Sites offers step-by-step instructions and includes links to video tutorials on YouTube. Easy to use and effective for creating an individual’s basic personal website, Google Sites may serve all the functions you need. One downside of Google Sites, however, is the limitation of situating images on the pages. For the job hunter wanting to include images on the personal website, Wix, Doodlekit, and Moonfruit allow greater maneuverability.
Using one of these free website builders not only saves you money, but it also allows you to emphasize your technical communication skills through creative and effective design. Technical communicators, more than most other professionals, benefit from this novel means of presentation because the website itself becomes an example of their work and, if done effectively, should make the sale.