Blogging for Jobs

Description

C.J. Trayser explains how to use blogging to promote your abilities and knowledge in the field in which you are seeking a career.

“Blogging? I don’t want to tell everyone what I had for lunch today and what TV show I watched last night!”

Yes, this was one of the first responses I got when I spoke to a group of people about blogging for jobs. Most of them had no sense of the great diversity of blogging; the images they conjured of its less-than-stellar uses took me a while to get out of their heads.

The new image I tried to impress upon them was that of a "digital repository" of their skills and successes. I told them to think of blogging as a way to share some of their accomplishments, or as insights relevant to their careers with potential clients, employers or peers. 

To blog effectively you need a strategy. So here’s a starter guide to developing a “career blog” that can be an effective part of your overall job-search:

Sort & Select

Make a list of your talents where you have had some level of professional expertise directly related to your job search. Pick one (or maybe 2-3 very closely related topics) and start writing a few 1-page (2-4 paragraphs) articles on various aspects of your experience in a brief and to-the-point fashion. This does two things … it gets you used to writing for other readers and also helps you decide if you have a variety of useful things to say on a specific topic. If the articles aren’t interesting to you, they probably aren’t interesting to others. If you need to, scrap the topic, pick another area of expertise, and try writing again.

After you have written 7-10 articles on a topic relevant to your career, get a trusted “reviewer” (spouse, coworker, professor, etc.) to read your writings to give you a serious critique. Ask them to find at least 10 things to fix in each article. This will give them “license to criticize,” without which they may not provide really useful feedback.

Now, with several articles in-hand, find a blog service (WordPress.com is my favorite, but Blogger.com or others are also fine) and build a basic “test” blog site. This is where you practice blogging, so set the privacy setting so that only you and your trusted reviewers can see the content. Choose your theme, colors, key pages (an “About” page, a “Link” page, a “Resume” page, etc.) and all of the other elements of your test blog. For starters, post at least 4-5 articles and then get your trusted reviewer to look over the site for layout, professionalism and content.

Publish & Monitor

Next, once you have your test site looking just like you want it, create your public blog. This means selecting a meaningful URL/website name, copying your blog theme settings, populating the first few articles and adjusting the privacy settings to "public." Make sure you enable comments so you can start to engage with your audience; initially, however, select the "comments" setting that requires you to approve each comment.

Over the next few weeks, keep writing new articles on your test site so you always have a cache of 3-5 unpublished articles. Then about once a week, copy one of the articles from your test blog to your public blog. If any comments appear, decide if you want to approve them and make sure to post a response to each comment.

Participate & Refer

Now that you have a few key articles that show off your skill and talent, you need to “advertise” your expertise. I find that looking for other blogs related to my industry, where I can engage in discussions or use the LinkedIn.com “Answers” feature to help answer someone’s query, provides a great platform for me to provide a brief insight on a discussion topic and to direct readers back to my blog for more details. (Note: Don’t overtly advertise your site as you might get marked as a spammer.)

After the site has about 10 articles, it’s time to link your blog page to your other key marketing tools. You might mention your blog in cover letters, add the URL on your networking card, enter it as your blog link or your website link in your LinkedIn profile, put the blog’s URL as part of your signature on your email messages and get your friends to add your blog onto their blogs as a favorite link. Also, if your site can’t be found from Yahoo, Google or Bing searches, try to get these sites to index your blog.

Blogging Tips & Hints

Make sure you keep this blog career-focused and don't use it as a social blog. (Put your favorite shows and what you had for lunch on Facebook!). While you’re at it, review all your social networking sites and make sure you’re presenting a strictly professional image to people you haven’t accepted as “friends.”

Make sure you keep the blog active … publish as least one article every week or two until you build up a professional collection of topics across your skill set. Ask your trusted reviewer to post a question/comment or two, just to set the tone so that other readers know you are open and responsive to comments.

Insights & Identity

You should clearly set the tone throughout the blog that you are a professional on a certain topic and that you can offer insights and information relevant to your specialty or industry. If people are impressed with your writings, make sure they can easily find your contact information and can reach you in a timely manner. Your digital identity, including your professional blog, can be a great way for potential hiring managers or recruiters to learn more about you, thus giving you an edge when they are looking for something more than just a resume to lead them to their interview candidate.

Bottom Line:

Blogging is a very underutilized feature of the job hunt and professional networking. You can reach a much wider audience and you can enhance your career opportunities by adding a blog to your digital identity. Write career-relevant articles and publish them on a blog, make sure they are well written and reviewed, connect your blog to your other self-marketing methods, and keep your blog active and professional.

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