“I’m pretty sure my iPhone can turn this into a website for me.”
Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash
By now you should have realised that all these tools and resources can help you to develop and progress. You should be well into the habit of writing and you should be part of a thriving community of researchers, both within your institution and outside. You will have a considerable online presence.
In order to make all of this really work for you, you need to be able to tie it all back to a single website that tells the world who you are, what you do and what you can do.
This is your number one professional tool in the digital age. After thinking about your professional brand very early on, you should have set a nice tone for your online presence. Your website is the place where you really define the professional you.
You have several options about where to host this website and you may well find that you end up with several profile websites. However, you should ensure that all of them link back to the one you consider to be the most important.
Here are some websites you may wish to consider using for your profile website:
Some examples of strong academic profile pages:
Some tips of designing your page:
There are pros and cons to each of these platforms. In particular, you may feel limited by the fields that you can fill in for some of them. Conversely, having an ‘About’ page on a blog or a personal website can be freeing but difficult to set up and to make look professional.
Having one does not (and should not) preclude you from having others. However, the one that you choose to focus on will probably set the tone for what you are trying to achieve.
If you are looking to continue in academia, obviously you should have a good profile page on the University of Surrey website that clearly outlines your research interests. You can also use this to attract the interest of local businesses for collaboration/consultancy purposes, etc. It is relatively easy to modify your profile yourself, using the University of Surrey’s website content management system. There are guides available here (scroll to digital and web support and follow the instructions). It is also worth mentioning that websites with .ac.uk suffixes also have the highest search engine optimisation, so Google searches for you will always feature your staff profile page highest. You can use this fact to link to your preferred profile page, if not this one. It is also worth remembering that you will lose this site when you move on from Surrey so use it for the high search rankings but perhaps look elsewhere as well.
You may be surprised that I have included LinkedIn here. Traditionally this is considered to be a ‘networking’ website, and ‘networking’ is obviously not a professional aim (but a professional means). The reason for inclusion is that this website tends to also have search engine optimisation, which means it also returns higher in Google searches (though not as high as .ac.uk websites). If you aren’t sure what you want to do in the future yet, LinkedIn is a great place to start your professional profile because it is so generic. There is a guide for students here on using LinkedIn. There are some advantages to using this website as your main profile page because it has built-in functionality to link to your other sites, and it will post updates on your behalf. Other websites might require more attention from you. However, you can also be more selective with the things you choose to present about yourself.
Consider what your profile picture says about you.
Photo: Nathan Rupert
Whether you’re using the university website to create your profile page, or any other for that matter, your profile website should include the same basic things:
- A professional profile picture. Not just the nicest snap of you, something where there is good lighting.
- Your name, or the name you go by.
- Your current role – if still working on your PhD, you’re probably a postgraduate researcher or a doctoral candidate.
- Your qualifications. You can give a projected qualification date if still working towards your PhD.
- Your professional contact details. This doesn’t have to be your university email address, but equally it doesn’t have to be your mobile number. If you do use a personal email address, it’s better to be professional sounding.
- A biography. A short paragraph (~250 words) written in a personable way that tells readers who you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going in life. In research. What motivates you. Tell us your story.
- Your achievements. By this, I really mean the things you want to show off about yourself. In academia this might be publications or collaborations. On LinkedIn, it might be a project that you’ve participated in. It might well be your successful blog, or a particular piece of writing. The key thing is, shout about it here. Link to it. Don’t make your readers hunt for it.
A professional profile page ought to look as good as possible, and this will take time. Unless filling out a fairly simple form, do spend some preparatory time thinking about what look you want, who your audience will be, and which information you want to emphasise. Look at good and bad examples; think about how visitors will see and use the site. What sort of tone do you want to set? Do you have all the necessary resources and information to create it? So, this week’s task is not to create the whole thing, but do the groundwork. Use things you’ve learned from running your blog about writing and designing online, and make sure you keep us updated when you go live!
Week 11 blog post
We’d like to hear about your experiences with this week’s Things or your thoughts on using them.
Or, you could use your blog to hone your thoughts about your profile website. Perhaps you have some ideas about what things to include/not include for specific purposes.
Don’t forget to tag your post Thing 21, Thing 22.