In my first year of engineering, I spent hours building a web resume to showcase my skills. I thought a personal website for job search would help me land my first internship. After successfully finding a job, I’ve realised that my efforts were a waste of time.
Building a personal website to land an internship
Seeing what my talented classmates could do made me anxious. Opinion articles and blog posts (with web hosting referral links, hmm) all told me that I needed a website to land a job. All this pressure made me believe that I needed a website too. I reasoned that even if I wasn’t as skilled as my classmates, a website would demonstrate that I’m serious about a job.
Building my web resume
I impulsively bought a domain name and created my first website. I desperately looked for things to fill up the blank pages. From unrelated volunteer experiences, forgotten AutoCAD projects, I slapped on as much decent content as I could.
After some strategic content placement and format tweaking, I had myself a fresh personal website. I had to admit I was proud of myself for scrapping up a website with no web developing experience. I excitedly added the link to my resume and sent a flurry of applications to employers across the world.
The job search
A couple of weeks after sending in my applications, interviews started rolling in. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Interview requests for engineering positions filled up my inbox! I assumed the hiring managers must have liked what they saw from my personal website. Out of the 47 applications I sent out, I got 5 interviews. Out of those interviews, I received 2 job offers. I gladly accepted an internship at a power systems and design department.
After the job search roller-coaster, I finally had time to breathe. Feeling curious one day, I looked into my website analytics. I wanted to see just how much traffic went through during my job search. What I saw shocked me.
Zero? This whole time I thought my website would have played a bigger role during my job search. I decided then and there that perhaps keeping a personal website didn’t have as much benefit as I thought. After all, I picked up a great internship without it. I didn’t bother renewing my domain name and let my website go.
Lessons learned: Personal websites don’t always help job search
Five internships later, I haven’t looked back. As for my friends with glowing personal websites? They’re doing software and web development jobs all around the world. However my passions lie in power engineering and it hasn’t changed since. Maybe someday there’ll be a need to showcase my projects and skills on a personal website. For now as a young professional just starting out, a traditional resume and LinkedIn will suffice.
One of the theories I had regarding the lack of website traffic was due to the industry I was interested in. More ‘traditional’ engineering disciplines (such as civil, electrical, mechanical, or chemical engineering) don’t typically expect personal websites. Mine also didn’t add much value to my resume. Even after gaining professional work experience, my projects could easily be referenced on my LinkedIn.
On the other hand, my talented friends developed software, websites, and video games. They embedded their projects into the theme and structure of their website. I found that this offered more value than a LinkedIn profile and justified the hassle for maintaining a website.
The choice is yours at the end of the day. If you want to play around with web design or just like seeing your name pop up on Google search, go for it. However, don’t feel obligated, especially if it’s not an industry expectation.