Whether you’re a seasoned professional looking for a new job or a recent graduate embarking on your career, connecting with the right people and getting your work in front of them can play a big role in your success. But, in this digital age, what’s the best way to do that?
LinkedIn, the social networking site for professionals, is an obvious choice. While it used to be that the site was pretty bare-bones, the company has done a lot over the past year to improve the design and add more features. But there are other options, as well.
This week, I tested two Web services — Enthuse.me and Zerply — that allow you to create personal pages that go beyond your typical resume. While LinkedIn is a great tool for outlining your entire work history, these services help you build profiles that highlight your expertise by allowing you to showcase individual projects.
They’re best suited for creative professionals or freelancers, and they allow you to bring all your work, from all over the Web, into a single online portfolio that you can present to prospective employers. The two services take a slightly different approach to the task, and, while a bit more visually boring, I found Enthuse.me to be the better of the two.
Enthuse.me launched in April. The company is still in a testing phase, and is continually rolling out new features. But the core features are ready now, and anyone can sign up for it. There is no cost to use the service.
Enthuse.me offered the best features in terms of highlighting personal projects, and it was the easiest to set up. But its interface is overly plain, which has its pros and cons.
Once you’ve signed up for an account, you’re presented with a profile page split up into five preset sections. At the top, you can add a profile picture and short biography. Below that, you can add any insights you might have — personal statements, favorite quotes — then there’s a section for current projects, work experience and any mentions of you or your company in the press or on the Web.
In addition to these sections, there’s an option to add other modules by linking to your other social networks and services from around the Web, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr. There are icons at the top of the page that help you jump to the various sections, and you can choose to hide any parts that you don’t want to fill out.
If you already have a LinkedIn account, you can import your information to the experience section simply by entering your login details. I did this, and it pulled my work experience and number of contacts with no issue. But Enthuse.me didn’t import information about my education. You can add these details manually.
Adding links to the current projects section of Enthuse.me was a simple matter of pressing the plus sign and then copying and pasting links. But it would be nice if there were a way to upload files straight from your computer — something that might come in handy for photographers or artists.
I added several of my articles from AllThingsD, and Enthuse.me automatically displayed the first couple of sentences from each story, as well as a thumbnail of an image that was included in the articles. You can swap the image or tweak the text using the edit option.
As a writer, I found this section particularly useful. Whenever I’ve applied for a job, I’ve been asked to submit writing samples, but rather than pasting links in an email, I think it would be nice to simply send a link to my Enthuse.me page, which has my resume, mission statement and work examples all in one place. I could also see it being useful for graphic artists, video producers and other creative professionals.
The only downside I saw to Enthuse.me is that there’s no way to change the background with different images or themes, unlike Zerply. While this keeps things simple, the white background is very blah. The company said it is planning to add customization features in the future.
Next, I tried Zerply (the company derived the name from the term “serious play,” which graphic designer Paula Scher discussed in her TED talk). This is also a free service, and the company’s goal is to be like the IMDb of the professional networking sites, showing what you’ve worked on, who you worked with and what they had to say about you. Thus it has more of a social aspect than Enthuse.me, and there are some premium features you can pay for, such as extra themes.
Setup is relatively easy. You can sign up for an account using your email address, Facebook or Twitter account. Once you’ve done that, you can add a profile pic, location and bio. There’s also a section to add tags and skills. It’s worth filling out this information, since Zerply offers a search function where employers can look for candidates by entering job title, location, skills and interests. Like Enthuse.me, Zerply has an option to import work experience from LinkedIn; it also connects to other social networks and services.
Zerply offers five different themes for your public profile page, which range from the more professional Zerply theme to the infographic-like Poster Child theme. I picked something in-between — the Swiss theme — and was happy with the presentation. It was neat and easy to read, while still looking attractive. Plus, it had links that people could select to directly email me, and an option to download my electronic business card. That said, I found that adding examples of my work wasn’t quite as seamless as it was on Enthuse.me.
With Zerply, you can’t just copy and paste links. Instead, you have to upload them through third-party portfolio services like Behance, Vimeo and SoundCloud, which is great, if you use them, but not so great if you don’t. I fell into the latter group. There is a manual upload option, but it only accepted image files.
As with Twitter, you can use the service to follow other people and endorse their skills. I feel like I’m already on enough social network services that have similar features, so this aspect of Zerply didn’t really appeal to me.
In today’s competitive job market, having a resume that stands out can help get your foot in the door. Enthuse.me and Zerply offer tools that can help you do that, but Enthuse.me is better for creating the most comprehensive online portfolio.