If you’re one of the millions of Americans currently in the market for a new job, you’re probably looking for anything you can do to set yourself apart from the competition. Building a strong and professional online presence is one such strategy, and a digital resume can help you achieve this goal.
80% of employers say they Google a candidate before deciding whether to offer them an interview. When they type your name into that search bar, what will they find? Building an online resume gives you some control over the impression you give to inquisitive hiring managers and can increase your chances of getting that coveted callback.
We’ll cover the basics of online resumes, help you decide whether you need one, and share some tips for creating a digital resume that sells your strengths as a candidate.
What is a Digital Resume?
In its most basic form, a digital resume is simply a version of your resume that’s publicly accessible online. Your LinkedIn profile is one example of a digital resume. Some people opt to use a digital resume builder to create and host their online resume, while others create an entire website dedicated to showcasing their professional profile and accomplishments.
The great thing about a digital resume is that you’re not boxed in by the rigid best practices that govern standard resumes, like limiting it to a set number of pages or including certain sections. It can be as simple or as involved as you want it to be, as long as it helps the viewer grasp your qualifications and understand your job experience. It also gives you the opportunity to offer more supporting information than you could in a typical resume, like links to examples of your work, photo galleries of relevant projects, and even video.
Think of your digital resume as your professional hub on the internet. Just like you devote time and energy to updating your regular resume, you should keep your online resume looking polished so you can put your best foot forward when an employer turns to the internet to learn more about you.
Do I Need an Online Resume?
Not everyone needs an online resume. With that said, there’s certainly no harm in having one no matter what field you’re in or what job you’re hoping to land. Here are a few of the upsides of having an online resume.
It’s on Your Terms
So much of the recruitment process is out of the candidate’s control, from applicant tracking systems that accidentally weed out good candidates to unfair bias that creeps into the hiring process. Creating an online resume puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you total agency over how you’re portrayed and the first impression you make on would-be employers.
It Can Clear Up Name Confusion
This is particularly important if you have a common name or share a name with someone who’s well known in another field. Let’s say you’re Dan Brown—every time someone tries to Google you, they’re going to be bombarded with information on the bestselling author. Carving out your own space on the web helps prevent cases of mistaken identity and differentiates you in your respective field.
It’s Fast and Easy to Build One
If limited technical know-how is what’s keeping you from building a digital resume, don’t let this be what stands in your way. Using a site like About.me, you can get a professional-looking online profile up and running in a matter of minutes with no development knowledge required.
7 Digital Resume Tips
Ready to set up your digital resume? Follow these tips for a finished product that makes a winning impression.
1. Use a Clean Layout
Your online resume doesn’t have to be basic; in fact, it can be quite extensive. However, it should be easy on the eyes and straightforward to navigate.
Don’t make the reader parse through giant walls of narrative text to figure out why they should hire you; like your paper resume, your online resume should be easily skimmable with clearly defined sections. Remember—you’re not confined to a single page, and this is a good thing. You might create separate pages for your bio, work experience, work samples and credentials, linking to them all from one central index page so the reader can browse at their leisure.
Here are a few great examples of clean, easily navigable online resumes:
- Garrett Byrum, a photographer whose online resume is 100% image-based
- Mark Wyner, a UI/UX designer in Portland who uses blocks and bold text to make an impact
- Kathryn Hunter, a writer in Austin who leads with a catalog of her recent work samples
2. Differentiate Your Name
If you have a name that’s shared by many other people, look for a way to differentiate yourself in your profession to avoid confusion and help prospective employers find the right “you” more easily.
One way to do this is to add a middle initial, like Dan A. Brown rather than just Dan Brown. Another strategy is to add a title after your name, like Dan Brown, Watercolor Artist. Use this title in all your professional profiles, like at the top of your digital resume and in the URL of the page where it’s hosted. Professional credentials work well for this purpose, too, like Dan Brown, CPA or Dan Brown, LPN.
3. Include Your Location
It’s standard practice to include, at the very least, your city and state in a paper resume, but it might not occur to you to do this when building your digital resume. Including your location is important to help hiring managers in your region find you and to ensure you show up in local search results. Local search results are those that are tailored to the user’s geographical location, and they now account for nearly half of all Google searches.
Capture those searchers in your area by including your city and state in the page title of your digital resume as well as on the page itself, either at the top with your name or with your contact details.
4. Update It Regularly
An online resume can be a great tool for winning over hiring managers, but if it’s outdated, it can do more harm than good. Update your digital resume regularly as you accomplish new goals and take on greater responsibilities. Furthermore, make sure the information in it, like job titles and dates, is consistent with what appears on your paper resume.
5. Use Multimedia
Plain text is fine, but why limit yourself to something that’s essentially a duplicate of your standard resume? Take full advantage of technological capabilities by including multimedia that helps the reader get to know you, tells your story as a professional in your field and shows off your work.
Some examples of multimedia that would work great in an online resume include:
- A video of you giving your elevator pitch of what you’re looking for and why an employer should hire you
- A click-through gallery that showcases samples of your work
- Downloads that back up the points you make in your resume, like sales reports or client case studies
- A printable PDF of your paper resume
6. Show Your Personality
It’s common advice that your resume should not include things like hobbies and side projects as they’re not relevant to what you bring to a professional role and take up valuable space that could otherwise be used to sell your strengths as a candidate. Your digital resume, however, is an exception to this rule.
Since you’re not limited by the length and formatting expectations of a standard resume, your online profile is a more appropriate place to dedicate a page to, say, your volunteer work for the Red Cross or your hobby collecting vintage cameras. As long as you give this information a distinct space that’s separate from your work-related accomplishments, it’s a nice way to help hiring managers get a sense of your personality, which can help them assess culture fit.
7. Offer Next Steps
The digital world is inherently interactive, so you should make it as easy as possible for a recruiter to take the next step in hiring you. Add a link to your LinkedIn profile and invite readers to connect. Make your phone number click-to-call so mobile users can get in touch with you via a single tap.