How To Create A High Value Web Site In A Day

As part of my continued research and teaching into student employability, I’ve been investigating the best ways to help students to present what they can do online.

One very underlooked technique by students is to create a web site on an area of interest to them (and which will benefit them in a professional sense).

That’s what I’ve demonstrated with the creation of my new web site related to contract cheating (shared with my research colleague, Robert Clarke).

Contract Cheating New Web Site

In this case, the web site serves multiple purposes. As well as being a demonstration to students and other academics that setting up a web site is possible, it also provides a central source for research into contract cheating, which is something that is missing at present.

Setting up a web site like this is something that has been within my plans for a couple of years now, but just didn’t ever quite make it high enough up the priority list to process. In the end, I was surprised how quick and easy this was to create in a way that is also simple to maintain.

The actual site design took around four hours, and is based around the WordPress CMS. I already had the idea for the site. Much of the set up involved adding appropriate plugins and coming up with the right pages and headings to make this quick to maintain. I want this site to be one that I can update with new media stories and research papers, but without needing to spend more than ten minute per post. I also wanted to make sure that this didn’t look like a blog (even though it is based mainly on blogging software).

The other four hours has been spent adding content. I’ve mainly used a curation system for this, finding useful sources elsewhere, acknowledging them, and using this as a base for a discussion article. I’ve also added some of my own ideas, which largely overlap with the discussions that I’ll have when presenting on contract cheating.

I’d estimate around eight hours (or one day’s work) to get all this going, but this could certainly be completed quicker if it was done in one session.

There is still lots more content to add, but crucially, coverage of recent material is there. If nothing else, I can see this being useful on a personal level, as it’s surprising how often I find useful recent news stories and discussions about contract cheating, but these quickly disappear into subscription databases, or fall so far down the Google rankings that they’re impossible to find again. That’s just the nature of the Internet.

Other things still to do include social media integration (this is easy with WordPress plugins) and to add some video to the site.

Most importantly, this is a process that can be replicated by students. I’ve been pleased to see some of my Professional Practice 2 students setting up their own blogs, particularly related to technology and gaming, which are useful to demonstrate a wider interest in the Computing field. WordPress makes it simple to maintain a site, and anything related to the professional world, extended studies or technology is a good item to add to a portfolio. One recommendation I would make is to always set this up on your own domain, rather than being reliant on (and constrained by) a third party.

Still lots to do around other activities, but hopefully contractcheating.com will prove to be useful, as well as a simple example of extended professional practice.

Growing Your Professional Network With BranchOut

Did you know that there’s a way to manage your professional contacts inside Facebook?

The BranchOut App works in a similar fashion to the LinkedIn professional social network. It takes the form of an App which runs inside Facebook.

Facebook friends generally become your BranchOut contacts, but you can also reach other people through the extended network and there are a number of job opportunities advertised on BranchOut.

At present, BranchOut is primarily Facebook based, but the profile page can be accessed from outside Facebook, giving you another good professional view. I’d also imagine that this will grow further outside Facebook in the future.

Here’s what my profile looks like:

The BranchOut Profile For Thomas Lancaster

One way to use this is to include professional contacts within your Facebook friends. Use the Privacy settings to keep the information that you display to this group within Facebook suitably restricted. Then include them as professional contacts within BranchOut to access the benefits of their network.

Whilst BranchOut isn’t a LinkedIn competitor yet, it does offer a lot of potential and is one of the up-and-coming social tools which I believe that you should be using to present yourself professionally online.

You can view my BranchOut profile here.

 

How To Search For Yourself Online Using Google

I’ve created a simple video demo showing how to search for yourself online using the techniques in the Online Professional Presences post.

It is worthwhile carrying out a search like this at least once a month to make sure that there is no information showing that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see.

You can also make sure that the sites that you want to push employers towards show up in the search results. Otherwise, you need to do more work on your professional online presence, for instance by adding content to those sites and pages and publicising them around social media.

Online Professional Presences – What Does The Internet Say About You?

If you’re a student, or even a professional looking for work, it’s very important to know what the Internet has to say about you.

Here’s a quick test.

Go to Google, and type in the your name in quotation marks.

Look at the first page of results.

There should be plenty of information on there which presents you in a positive light. There certainly shouldn’t be any negative information.

If you have a really common name, you might need to refine the search in a similar way to a potential employer would. Add your town, city or university to the search, or search by your email address or any online handles that you use and are easy to find.

This isn’t theoretical. Recent research showed that over 90% of employers searched for people looking for graduate jobs online before they could employ them (or, in many cases, even invite them to interview). If the information you want them to read isn’t there, then you just won’t get the professional jobs that you’re looking for.

Even more challenging?

Many employers bypass Google now and go directly to Facebook. The Facebook search options makes it very easy to find out more about candidates.

You need to treat all your socal media profiles as being in the public eye, because that’s what they are.

And, if employers can’t find out anything about you, what does that say?

To many employers, it says that you have something to hide.

To others, it’s that you just aren’t bothered about whether people can find out about you online.

Neither of those are good traits to potential employers.

 

Professional Presence Workshop

To find out more about social media, professional presences, and how these impact on employability, check out the Professional Presence Workshop at Birmingham City University. Places are free for academics interested in teaching these skills to students, but limited.

 

Your Thoughts

Do share your thoughts about the importance of an online professional presence in the comment area below.

Page 4 of 4«1234