Persona Non Obscura

Frequently Asked Questions

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Who/where is Persona Non Obscura?

Persona Non Obscura is a two-person operation in Ann Arbor, Michiganthe San Francisco Bay Area. Both partners are 20-something Midwestern natives who graduated with B.A. degrees in humanities from state schools (respectively, Indiana University and the University of Michigan). One finished an M.A. in literature and film on the west coast, with special interests in technology and popular culture, returned to the Midwest, and now freelances in web development and graphic design. The other received a master’s in information science, with interests in writing and digital content and now works for the California Digital Library.

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Who designs these templates? Where do they come from?

Persona Non Obscura designs all templates in their entirety; we use no stock graphics or imagery, and we code everything by hand. From time to time, we add to our collection, but new templates depend entirely on the time, inspiration, and/or inclination of the designer, and are therefore released on no kind of schedule whatsoever.

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What kind of content should I post in my “about” page?

The “about” page expresses a statement of purpose, a narrative, if you will, of your life. It elucidates your direction and how you chose it, and it reflects your personality by telling your story in your own voice. Remember that people are interested in learning about you and whether they will enjoy meeting and working with you.

Pragmatically, this page should only include content that you would feel confident disclosing/discussing in a formal interview. It should be no longer than several paragraphs in length, be written in a clear and direct style, and communicate your strengths as an individual. The litmus test: Are the assets you would bring to a company or organization apparent upon a five second scan?

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I need help with my résumé. Can you advise me on content, length, etc.?

We are happy to format your résumé, i.e., we can revise your layout, polish your wording, ensure consistent organization, and proofread your grammar. If you have a good résumé, we can make it better. However, if you simply don’t know where to begin in terms of content or length, we strongly encourage you to utilize career services offered by your school or community. If you’re a student, your school/department probably offers free career counseling, and staff advisors can inform you of industry trends, hiring practices, etc. in your field. If you’re not a student, the public library or local university may offer affordable or even free resources for job searching.

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Now that I have a website, how do I make the most of it?

Publicize your website by posting a link in your networking profiles (e.g., LinkedIn), including it in your email signature, and adding to your contact information on résumés and business cards. Tell your friends and family about it, and encourage them to pass along your web address to other people they know. If you’re calling or emailing about a position, be sure to mention that your résumé is posted at yourdomain.com. Finally, remember that it’s vital to keep your information up to date and relevant to your job search.

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Why do I need an individual website when free services such as Monster.com, LinkedIn, etc. exist?

An individual website serves a different purpose than Monster.com, LinkedIn, and other aggregate sites. We do not view ourselves as a competitor to these sites; rather, we believe than an individual site works in tandem with networking services. Not only is an individual site, distinct in both design and domain name, more memorable than a default profile at a job bank, it offers a different kind of information by expressing your story in your words; even your résumé can be formatted any way you like. In brief, a website does what LinkedIn cannot: It gives you a space that is totally owned by you.

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I’m not a web designer, but I can create a website with Frontpage, Dreamweaver, or other software. Why should I pay for a professional service?

Would you stitch together the suit you wore to an interview if you weren’t a tailor–even if you had a sewing machine? A professionally designed website indicates that you are a professional individual who is serious about getting a job; it’s like a well-tailored suit that helps you to make the best impression possible. The difference is that while an interview only lasts half an hour, a website works in or against your favor 24/7.

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I’m willing to pay for a website, but other web designers only charge $25/$50/$61.75. Why does Persona Non Obscura charge $99/$199?

We believe that we charge fairly and affordably for what we do. Our templates are designed from scratch and then handcoded to web standards compliance and cross-browser compatibility in a process that often takes days and occasionally weeks. When you submit your content, we handcode all of that as well. We are not using any WYSIWYG (e.g., Dreamweaver) software, because the best XHTML and CSS is written by humans, not machines, and we don’t settle for anything less than the best. We maintain low overhead costs, but our fixed costs in terms of workstations and graphics and coding software run thousands of dollars. Factor in the time we also spend communicating with clients, and you’ll probably agree that $99/$199 per website is a fantastic deal. Since we live in Michigan, $1 USD is worth exactly that; there is no outsourcing to cheap labor here—just a couple of people who love what they do and believe they’re putting out a good product.

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Do employers really use the internet to screen prospective candidates?

Yes, articles about the importance of controlling your online identity have been appearing with increasing prevalence since at least the mid-2000s. Anything that you post on the internet should be considered potentially public information, including content on Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites. Therefore, we recommend that you either evaluate your profiles for appropriateness or increase your privacy settings (and verify that these settings are, in fact, applied).

To cite a few sources:

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What happens to my website and domain registration when my contract with Persona Non Obscura expires?

While the templates are non-transferrable and the website itself will cease to exist once your hosting expires, you may keep your domain name by setting up an account with a domain registrar and requesting that we transfer domain registration to you. You will be responsible for all of your registrar’s fees.

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What is personal branding? Does a website help?

Personal branding is the process of marketing yourself as a distinct brand (i.e., product); essentially, it’s what comes to mind when people think of your name. Online, your website is your personal brand; it communicates a message about you that should be reflected and reinforced by your networking profiles. Because consistency is key, use the same language to describe yourself across the internet. Don’t refer to yourself as a “marketing specialist” on your website and a “product sales expert” on LinkedIn, and don’t list different sets of skills or even different career goals. Finally, don’t forget that branding is visual as well as verbal: Instead of posting a different photo for every site, use one excellent headshot that supports what you’ve written about yourself. If you’re applying to corporations where business attire is the norm, wear a suit; if you’re applying to companies in the Midwest, for which you profess a profound love, don’t post a photo of yourself with California palm trees in the background.

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