The paper resume you've been using for the past 10 years won't cut it anymore. We're way into the digital era so your resume needs to get digitized, too.

Because recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals are receiving sometimes hundreds of applications for a single job opening, it's on job applicants to stand apart from the pack. Think of it this way: you can send over a Word document, with Times New Roman typeface, in the format you were taught to write resumes in back in grade school, and press send; or, you can offer an experience.

Consider the white noise out there. Everyone's attention is being challenged at all times. It's a competing war for airtime in our minds. So, when you send in a white noise resume, that being one that I can probably read with my eyes shut, you're not trying hard enough to break through the white noise.

There is a general number of the population who uses the same resume format, with the same words, the same objectives nicely typed out and the same closing remarks. Don't do that to yourself.

You're much more dynamic than Times New Roman, right? So show it. If you want your resume to get the attention it deserves then you need to elevate it. 

When you elevate your resume and offer an experience, you're allowing yourself to spring to life from beyond the paper and offer a digital handshake. By using online tools, portfolios, and websites, you can tell your story authentically and at the same time stand apart. It's time to start creating your personal brand.

To have a personal brand website, or not?

There's a lot to be said for having a personal website and I'd argue that any serious professional, especially a job seeking one, should have one. It boils down to telling your story, the way you want it to be told. It's no secret - job candidates are being Googled. At least 80 percent of them. Having a personal brand website allows you to control the information found about you on the internet and doubly, it makes you the storyteller. Through a personal website you can architect an authentic image and showcase more than what a two page resume lets you - you can show off your personality! Using a personal website you will be able to present yourself as the dynamic, multi-faceted individual that you are. Be cautioned — don't include a personal website if it's out of date, irrelevant or you're not proud of it. Think about the experience. You want to lift off of the pages of your resume and spring to life, not hit a dead end on a bad website.

If you're going to set yourself up with a personal branding website, there are a ton of different options out there. If you can't code, try SquareSpace or Wix. These are what I'd call plug and play websites where templates are ready to go and you don't need to do that much. E-a-s-y.

You can also use the various (and free!) personal branding website tools out there to create a one page, dynamic web experience of you and your resume. Such tools like About.Me, Flavors.Me, or Strikingly. These tools are fantastic because they too are plug and play but they are geared to personal and professional branding and the online resume market - they were made for this.

Do I have to use social media?

Yes. Someone wise once said to me, “if you're not on social media, I'm going to wonder what you're hiding.” This struck a chord. No, this doesn't mean you need to be on every single platform, but it does mean you should exist online. When I Google your online personal brand, something should come up. And, if you're a professional, you absolutely should be on LinkedIn. No if's, and's, or but's.  

The benefits to being on LinkedIn are endless  - so, you have no excuses to not be branding yourself on social media. When it comes to offering that digital handshake, social media IS the handshake. It's you live connecting with the world around you. It's your interests. It's your values. It's your sense of humor. Looking at someone's Twitter feed will tell you a lot about them — and usually in a good way! It compliments your resume with dialogue and voila! You spring to life and offer a digital handshake.

The best platforms for professionals? LinkedIn and Twitter. Do it authentically and because you want to.

Do I need a portfolio?

If you're in a creative profession you need an online portfolio. This goes for web professionals, marketers, writers, designers — anything that requires a 'show and tell' of your achievements. Having an online portfolio allows you to control what's found online and again, showcase your best self (and in turn your best work!). By creating an online gallery of the work you're most proud of, you're able to show instead of tell the hiring manager what you have done. This is the greatest thing about being in a creative profession - you have the ability to let your work speak for itself, so let it!

Having an online portfolio is different than a personal website. Depending on the content, whether it's image heavy or content centric, you'll want to pick a tool that is geared towards portfolios and not just static information. Check out Weebly and Carbonmade.

What about a blog?

It's simple: you should have a blog if you want to write. Some might say blogging is so yesterday but who cares? If you have something to share, do it — “if it educates, entertains, or engages others.”  A personal blog is an excellent facet to fortifying your digital handshake and creating more of that dialogue mentioned earlier. A blog also creates an opportunity to showcase a top skill many employers are looking for: writing. A study showed that 70 percent of employers want candidates who can write so even if the job you're applying for isn't a communications role, it's likely that having polished writing skills will be in your favour so show it off.

WordPress is the original, free blogging website and I highly recommend it. It's easy to use and has many word processing tools geared towards writers. Tumblr is also an option that will give you the freedom to write but also add other personalized content to present your personality just the way you want to.

Kicking off your personal branding efforts or refining them might feel like a lot of work, but it doesn't have to be. Find the tools that best suit your goals and go for it — you have nothing to lose.

Want to see how your resume stacks up? Try out our free critique today!

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