when most people were just beginning to hear about the Internet, Richard Shin had a personal web site and began storing examples of his work on what he'd later use as an online portfolio.
Shortly after creating it, he put it to work in a job search. He was seeking a position as a project manager at DIRECTV Inc., a broadcast satellite service provider in El Segundo, Calif. "The person who hired me at DIRECTV said that my web site was what put me over the edge because it demonstrated my enthusiasm and interest in keeping up with current technology -- and using it," says Mr. Shin.
Later, after he took a year off to finish a master's degree while working part time, he prepared for a new plunge into the job market. "I revamped my web site, put my name and web address on a few job-search sites and by the next day, I had two companies competing for me," says Mr. Shin. One of the two was Centrifusion Inc., an e-business consulting firm in Chicago where he's now a project manager.
Growing numbers of professionals are creating web sites to house their resume and samples of their work for recruiters and employers to browse. In April, HomePage.com, an online home page provider based in Los Angeles, said more than 20% of the more than 100,000 people who had created home pages on its service included their work history and resume material. By the end of the year, nearly a third of its users are expected to provide career-related or small-business information at their sites, says Tim Cahill, chief executive officer of HomePage.com.
A resume doesn't tell the story a home page can, says Mr. Cahill. "A person can do much more than tell their work history and hobbies. They can give an employer a chance to see samples of work, have quotes from people they have worked with, set up links with references and more," says Mr. Cahill. "An employer can really get to know a person in-depth at their home page. It's proving that it can tell a complete story."
Michael Kranitz, president of Driveoff.com, an automotive e-commerce company in Denver, created a personal web site in 1996 when he wanted to switch from a career in law to e-commerce. He developed a digital resume that included his legal experience, samples of images and sites he developed, his business-development and educational background and a list of honors and achievements.
"The site was broken down into six sections and employers could go into the information as deeply as they wanted," says Mr. Kranitz. "I also included an executive summary so they could quickly see my professional history if they didn't want to browse the entire site."
Confidentiality was one reason Mr. Kranitz opted for an online portfolio. He made his site password-protected and gave the password to only carefully chosen recruiters.
"Having my own site and giving the password to only certain recruiters was important to me at the time because I was a gainfully employed lawyer looking to get out of the profession," says Mr. Kranitz. "I wanted a change, but I didn't want to damage my reputation as a lawyer in the meantime."
Keeping an online portfolio can be a low-profile alternative to an active job-search campaign, says Pat Kendall, author of "Jump Start Your Online Job Search in a Weekend" (Prima Publishing, 2000). "A web resume and portfolio is really helpful for executives because they can choose whom they give their URL to and only those people will know that they're looking for a job," she says.
Bypassing job-search databases and being selective about who sees your resume also eliminates the hassle of being contacted by recruiters for inappropriate job opportunities. Moreover, your employer won't find your resume while scanning job sites for dissatisfied employees. Mr. Kranitz says Driveoff.com is one of many employers that do this routinely. "It's our way of making sure our employees are happy and if they're not, we can sit them down and try to work things out so they remain with the company," he says.
You'll also avoid the problems of e-mailing resumes. "Sending a resume as an attachment to an e-mail can be a method fraught with problems" such as viruses, transmission errors and file incompatibilities, says Michael Bloom, president of iAmaze Inc., a web-based applications provider in San Francisco. "By sending a URL, an executive is simply pointing people to a site where the information will be consistent and, hopefully, always error-free."
Another benefit is the ability to update the site as you accumulate additional experience. "People can allow recruiters to always see their latest work," says Alan Chang, chief executive officer of iAmaze.
Most senior executives are likely to hire someone to prepare their online portfolios, says Wendy Enelow, president of Career Masters Institute, an executive-consulting firm in Richmond, Va. "Even if someone is the CEO of a technology company, he or she may not already have the skills to do it without someone else's help."
Hiring someone to create an online resume can run anywhere from $50 to $150, says Ms. Kendall. But if an executive wants an elaborate web portfolio, it can cost more.
ExecutivePortfolio.com charges $1,800 to develop web-based portfolios for executive job seekers. "We develop all of the content for the executives and allow them to keep the finished product on our site for employers to browse," says Ms. Enelow, who founded the site. "Each person might have around 10 to 15 pages in their portfolio including their photograph and short synopsis, downloadable resume, html resume, executive leadership profile, career and leadership achievements, technology skills, letters of recommendation and [an e-mail] link to the candidate."
But if you want to do it yourself, you don't have to be bona fide web designer to create an impressive, effective site given the easy-to-use software available. "If someone knows how to type a document using Microsoft Word, they're halfway there. Learning how the programs work is very simple and most people catch on very quickly," says Todd Gitlin, chief executive officer of Career Creations Inc., a career web site in Sacramento, Calif.
There are also automated resume-writing sites. For example, CareerFolios.com has nine design templates and 80 resume categories to choose from. Many of these automated sites also act as hosts, allowing candidates to simply refer potential employers to the site or forward a URL that will take them directly to their digital resume and work samples. This is a less-expensive alternative to hiring a professional digital resume writer and paying a monthly host fee. CareerFolios.com has a one-time fee of about $40.