Did you know that 80% of employers will Google you before an interview according to a recent article by job search expert Susan Joyce? What are they going to find?
Is this potential employer going to find a bunch of social media profiles with pics from your amazing Spring Break trip with friends, or are they going to find a curated search result that highlights what you want them to see?
Employers aren’t even going to look that hard – you’re likely one of hundreds of candidates. But what they do want to see is something that stands out – and if that “something” aligns with your resume.
That’s why starting your own website as a college student is a no brainer. When you’re a college graduate, having your own website becomes your home base – an online resume, a portal to “you”, and a place to showcase your work.
Why Every College Student Needs A Website
You might be thinking to yourself, well, I have a LinkedIn profile – isn’t that enough? No. It’s just a starting point.
You need a website because you need a home base for yourself. What happens if LinkedIn goes the way of MySpace? What happens if Facebook goes out of business? When you rely on other websites, you are at their mercy. If you create your own website as a college student or college graduate, you now have your own piece of the online real estate world that you can keep forever.
Here’s some of the potential benefits of starting your own website:
You Own Your Own Brand Online
When you create your own website using your name, Google will likely rank that website as the #1 result for your name (unless you share the same name as a famous celebrity, then you might have some trouble). As such, you can control your brand online because most users will only click the first couple results – and maybe they browse the first page.
Studies show that the first result in Google gets 32.5% of the click-throughs. This needs to be your own website if it’s your name people are searching for. The second result only gets 17.6% and the third only gets 11.4% of the clicks. These should be your best looking social media profiles – such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
That’s how you control your brand.
You Can Get A New Job Easier
Since 80% of employers will Google your name, having your own website that looks great goes a long way to showing employers that you care about the work you do. With the right website, a potential employer can learn about you, see examples of your work, and really get a sense for who you are.
If your resume and other social profiles all align, it will make getting a new job easier – even if you’re getting your first job right out of college.
You Can Showcase Yourself
Your website is the true place where you can showcase yourself and what you stand for.
Think about it – even if you’re in college today, a good website will have:
- A picture (or multiple pictures) of you
- A resume page
- A place to share your accomplishments
- Links to your other social profiles
- A contact form
All of these are great ways to show off what you’ve done. Maybe you’ve held several internships (show some photos of it along with what you’ve learned). Maybe you’ve volunteered and have some great experiences there. Maybe you have a side hustle that you want to highlight that shows you have an entrepreneurial spirit.
You Might Want To Do More With It In The Future
When you own your own domain name, you can use it for whatever you want to. Today, it can be a great home base for finding a job after college. Tomorrow, it could be a website that is the cornerstone of your business.
The fact is, the web is growing by about 55,000 new domains everyday (the URL for your website). If you want to own your own name online, you need to purchase it sooner rather than later. It’s really cheap to buy a domain – BlueHost gives you a free domain name when you sign up! So there’s no reason to wait in building your college student website.
Setting Up A College Student Website Is Easy
It might sound scary, but setting up a basic college student website is really easy. It takes about 15 minutes, and you’ll be up and running.
There are three main steps which we simplified below, followed by creating the content for your site. If you want a bigger tutorial, check out our full guide on How To Start A Blog Or Website For College Students.
1. Buy A Domain Name
Your domain name is your URL. For example, the domain name of this site is TheCollegeInvestor.com. You ideally want this to be your full name. If you can’t get your first and last name, try variations with your middle name or middle initial.
To buy your domain name, it’s the first question when creating your Bluehost Hosting Account. We recommend Bluehost because they make setting up a website and getting a domain name easy! Plus, it’s only $2.95 per month!
2. Setup A Web Hosting Account
The next step is to find a web hosting account. This is the server that will hold your website. Think of it as a hard drive online somewhere. You don’t want to use your own computer because you typically don’t have the best setup to hold a website.
A choice we recommend for web hosting is Bluehost. They are consistently running deals, and right now you can start your own website for just $2.95 per month. It’s trusted by some of the biggest bloggers and publishers on the web.
The important thing to remember is that you can cancel or change your web hosting at any time, and you’ll still own your own domain name. So don’t think you’re locked into this. Check out Bluehost here.
3. Install And Setup Your Website Itself
Finally, you have to install and setup your website. Bluehost’s web hosting account, which we talked about above, sets up the baseline website for you. You just need to customize the look and create the content.
The look is dictated by themes. There are lots of free themes available, which you can find by going to Appearance -> Themes, or you can purchase a premium theme. When people talk about having someone build them a website, they are usually talking about paying someone to build a custom theme for their site. You don’t need to pay, as there are plenty of free and low cost options available.
** If this confuses you at all, check out our tutorial on starting a blog or website here.
4. Create Your College Student Website Content
Once you have a theme, you need to create the content. The main pillars of content should be:
A Welcome/Home Page: You need to think about first impressions for when potential employers or readers land on your site. What do you want them to see? A great way to introduce visitors to your website is to simply have a professional picture of you, and some key facts about you.
A Resume Page: Just like it sounds, you can create a resume page that highlights your work experience. As a college student or recent graduate, you can also include volunteer opportunities, and clubs you participated in.
Industry Content: This may seem odd for a college student to put on their website, and it’s not required. But if you have anything you can share relevant to the industry you want to get into, it can go a long way. For example, maybe you want to get into web design, and you’ve been doing freelance work during college. You could create a blog on your website where you share information relating to freelance web design. This can go a long way towards showing potential employers (or even future clients) you mean business.
Contact Information: Finally, make sure you include a contact form so people can contact you, as well as links to all the relevant social media profiles. This is important – there could be other people with your same name, so you want to make sure that you link to your own LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles.
How To Maximize The Impact Of Your Own Website
The Internet was become a mainstay of everyone’s life. You use it daily (if not hourly) to stay up to date on information, connect with friends, and research potential employers. Well, guess what, the person hiring you is doing the same thing! Except they are going to look for you online.
Once you create your own website, you need to focus on maximizing the impact of it. This means connecting it to all your social profiles, and having all your social profiles connect to your website. By creating this wheel of relevance around your name, you will be the primary search result in Google whenever someone searches for your name.
This means making sure that you have updated profiles on the following main social media sites:
By having an updated profile, this means:
- Using the same profile picture across all of the social networks and your website
- Trying to use the same color schemes if possible
- Linking correctly to your own personal website
- Purging any information that may be controversial from your social pages (including text posts, comments, and pictures)
If you do all of this, when people search for your name online, your website and your social networks will have all of the top results in Google, and your potential employer will be impressed.
Have you build your own personal brand website yet?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him on the About Page, or on his personal site RobertFarrington.com.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.