Are you looking for a job or planning to look for one? If so, you should have your own website that highlights your professional experience and accomplishments.

That’s the conclusion of a newly completed survey of 300 HR professionals who regularly recruit and hire. The survey was conducted ResearchNow, sponsored by the domain name provider Admittedly, as a domain provider, has skin in the game when it comes to encouraging people to create their own websites. Nevertheless, these survey results are pretty convincing. About 30 percent of respondents said a personal website can create a competitive advantage in the job market. And 39 percent said–all other qualifications being equal–they would be likelier to pick a candidate with a personal website over a candidate without one. Recruiters also noted that their industry is trending toward proactively seeking out candidates rather posting ads and letting job-seekers come to them. In that case, having a website may increase your chances of being found.

Survey respondents also said having a personal website demonstrates qualities such as creativity, marketing savvy, innovation, brand awareness, and even leadership. Yet most job-seekers don’t have one. Forty-two percent of the respondents reported that fewer than 1 out of every 100 candidates has a personal website.

Clearly, having your own website can help you stand out from the crowd. Since building a website these days is easy and inexpensive (or free), it’s plain silly not to have one, especially if you’re in the job market.

Putting your best page forward.

What should you include in your personal website? Here’s what the HR executives thought was most valuable:

  1. A traditional resume
  2. An interactive resume with links to work samples or case studies
  3. Links to work-related articles or blog posts published on other sites
  4. Volunteer or non-profit activities
  5. Portfolio samples
  6. Awards and other honors

You can skip information on personal interests or hobbies, and you don’t need a personal blog. Neither had much value for survey respondents.

The survey also showed how a negative social media presence can hurt you, with about 20 percent of recruiters checking Facebook whenever they consider a candidate and many more doing it at least sometimes. About a quarter always do Google searches on candidates, and again many more do it at least sometimes. They’re looking for revealing photos, evidence of partying, strong and offbeat political opinions, and negative comments about work, all of which can raise a red flag.

There’s not much you can do about it if that stuff is out there. On the other hand, a professional looking website might just tip the scales in your favor.

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