Building a successful career has never been more difficult. Not only are there fewer jobs available for a more skilled workforce, but competition for any given job is through the roof. A recent study conducted by found that, in addition to the 8% unemployment rate, 74% of people who already have jobs are also looking for their next gig. And, according to a recent study by Staffing Industry Analysts, 18% of workforces at Fortune 1000 companies are made up of temps, freelancers, or contract workers.

The competition for work and advancement has never been fiercer. Professionals increasingly realize that to succeed they need to promote themselves, and often. Yet, when asked, most people don’t know what tools are best at doing this.

For an increasing number of professionals, a personal website is the answer. According to research by Workfolio, 56% of people surveyed felt that websites were the best self-promotion tool currently available. Here are some ways a personal website can give you an edge in your career:

1. A Website Improves Your Chances of Being Found

A website will make you more visible in search engine results. People searching for you by name as well as people looking for your skills will be more likely to find you.

2. Most First Impressions Now Happen Online

According to Google, 80% of people research others online before meeting them for the first time. That number jumps to 95% when talking about employers researching candidates. A beautifully-designed and well-written website gives you the best chance of making that crucial first impression a great one.

3. A Website Gives Your Content More Attention

Research has shown that people spend more time on websites than they do on a given social networking profile. Without distractions like ads, third-party branding, and other users’ profiles competing for visitors’ attention, you can take your time to explain yourself and what you are looking for and have the message stick.

4. A Website Sends a Strong Professional Message

For years, prominent authors, musicians, politicians, and other personalities have used websites to raise their profiles and provide a place to showcase their careers. Having your own website sends a message that you care about your professional image, and good, relevant content shows you put time and thought into your job.

5. A Website Lets Your Personality Shine

Good salespeople know how important it is to make personal connections with their clients. Whether it’s a shared hobby, life philosophy, or experience, making some sort of connection with your audience reminds them that you are a real person. Websites give you a chance to talk about your interests and experiences in a way that is difficult to do on a resume, and gives visitors a number of chances to make those important connections.

6. A Website Can Be Working Even When You Aren’t

A website never sleeps and is always ready to impress even when you aren’t available. It gives your personal brand a global footprint that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. Your social profile probably cannot claim this.