Can Blogging Get You Your Next Job?As a job hunter, you have a lot of skills to learn and maintain, including résumé writing, cover letter writing, learning LinkedIn and other social media, networking techniques, interview techniques and negotiation. It’s exhausting, I know.
I’m going to suggest one more to add to your list: blogging.
Why? Because, to the extent that you need to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers and others, and to the extent you need to illustrate your communication and technical skills, blogging may be the most efficient and useful way to show off those skills. Blogging experience might also be useful after you’re hired, too.
What is a Blog? What Kinds are There?
First, there are many kinds of blogs. The first one that comes to your mind may be the “traditional” personal blog with a series of writings, called posts, each distinct. That is the most common way to blog and can be useful for job hunters.
There are also blogs for work portfolios that showcase documents, photos, videos, poems, arts & crafts, music, podcasts and probably a few things you and I have never thought of putting together.
Some blogs are mainly promotional. These are often combined with other non-blog pages to promote you, your work, your book, your product, your skills, or your hireability.
Some blogs can be mainly résumé sites. Dual Career Job Hunters often complain about LinkedIn, because a single LinkedIn profile might not be the best way to develop parallel careers or to be found by recruiters in either field. If you are looking for jobs in more than one field (or looking for a similar position in a for-profit and a non-profit), you can use a website/blog (with “static” or unchanging pages combined with blog, or changing pages) to feature different résumés for different audiences.
Don’t just list your accomplishments – show what you’ve done and share your success stories. Support your job search whether its to become a full-time employee, a consultant, a freelancer, or a hobbyist.
A website featuring pages for each career, a comprehensive biography, and a blog, can be an adjunct to your LinkedIn profile.
Other Kinds of Blogs
Some blogs are curation sites, less concerned about creating new work as in pointing visitors to the latest news about a specific field. Think of it as being a reference librarian who specializes in a certain topic to help others find and share the same info.
As Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book vividly demonstrates, the main purpose of some blogs is for writing a book and building an audience before the book is finished and available for purchase.
Some blogs can evolve into another source of income. If you are an entrepreneur, a blog can also be part of an e-commerce site.which could be a night job, an interim job, or grow into a full-time job.
Mommy Blogs (yes, that’s a real blog genre) are for women who want to share stories, creative ideas, learning, and build a feeling of community for a large and important part of society. This can be an option during a maternity leave, or while being a stay-at-home mom, or while you combine being a mommy with a career. If you aren’t a Mom—or need to get away from Momming—you can considering being a Style Blogger (especially if you are job searching for work in the fashion or cosmetics industry).
And some job hunters simply blog to help others and as a creative outlet. Doing Good is sufficient reason to blog, and it can also be good for you at the same time.
Some people simply blog to learn. What better way to learn about a topic than to force yourself to study and write about it?
A few people are good at attracting an audience online just for the purpose of discussion. You can blog on Quora, answer questions there, or create your own Quora-like website using advanced Q&A discussion software.
And if you can’t think of anything else, you can always blog about job hunting. (Ahem)
Analyze your desired audience, your field, and your talents, and you might create your own web niche to call your own.
Job search and interview coach, Alex Freund, recently reminded me that a job can simply be anything you can do better than someone else, so that they will want to hire you to do that job. Everybody has a marketable skill. Likewise, anything that you do better than somebody else can be the topic of a blog.
But I’m Job Hunting, Do I Really Need to Blog?
The simple answer is “No.” There are a few things you absolutely need to do to promote your job search, such as writing your résumé, building your LinkedIn profile, finding job boards and/or recruiters, and taking interviews. Many people do just these things and get jobs. Sometimes it takes a year or three, sometimes just a few days. Networking is important, too.
Nobody can promise you that if you start a blog it will get you a job. If they try, back away from them before they sell you something.
However, blogging is a great way to attract the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. It’s a good way to grow a member base of people interested in your blog and your field. It can shorten your job hunt. You can start a blog before you are laid off (or quit) and establish your credentials without saying “Sayonara” to your current employer (or before they say “Sayonara” to you).
Blogging teaches you skills that might be helpful in your new job, particularly about communication and social media.
And people do get interviews and job offers because of their blogs. It can lead to freelance, part-time or full-time work. People tell me that they got a job or an interview because of their blog. Readers can suggest employers or offer job leads. You can become an go-to “expert” in your field, whatever that field is. Or you can combine fields to create a new unique site. A few people make money from their blogs. Others use their blogs to create a new career for themselves.
Jay Conrad Levinson and David E. Perry, in their book Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters recommend blogging as a great option to attract attention and showcase your skills. It works well with the other ideas in their book, too.
Then there’s Google
Have you ever done a Google search on yourself? Just typed your name in the Google search box to see what pops up? What did you find?
Nothing? Maybe a link to your LinkedIn profile? Do you see only other people who share your name? Is there digital dirt about you you’d rather not have others see? (See our Frugal Guidance 2 post “Your Job Hunt Mission: Destroy Your Digital Dirt.”) Or do you have to click through 4 or 5 pages before you show up at all? (On the web, that’s almost like being invisible.)
A blog might be the easiest way to give Google (and other search engines) more keywords and articles to promote when somebody else searches for you. It can improve your search rankings, your social media impact, and can direct recruiters and hiring managers to your site and to you, using the same keywords as they use in their job announcements.
Think that might make it easier to find a job?
Does a Blog Take a Lot of Time and Money?
Think of a blog as a creative endeavor. Anything creative takes time and practice. If you can devote an hour a day to your blog, you can make things happen. Learning how to blog takes a bit of time, too. It’s not the amount of time that’s critical. What’s important is that you have the discipline to work on it regularly. Hey, if it was too easy, everybody would do it.
But it doesn’t necessarily take much money. You can get blogging software for free, and that’s The Good Stuff. Some blogging services will also host your blog, giving you a little home to call your own on the web at no cost.
If you want to really personalize your site, add features, create mailing lists, and brand your site with its own look, you may want to go a step further and host your own site. Fortunately, you don’t need to buy your own internet server to do this—you rent a space on somebody else’s internet server, which can cost anywhere from $4 to $10 / month. Buying a personalized web address may cost $10-16 / year. Buying a specialized theme with extra features, or getting on an e-commerce site might cost a bit more, as will some software plug-ins.
But I Hate to Write, Can I Still Blog?
Some form of writing is involved in blogging, but there are some websites and blogs that minimize this. Many blogs feature instructional videos — you can link your own Youtube and Vimeo videos to your blog. (Yes, you need to script or storyboard beforehand, but nobody will critique your punctuation on a video.) Other video bloggers feature interviews and talk fests.
Some bloggers specialize in informational graphics – especially good for those who prefer to analyze than write. Some people curate and make recommendations to readers on hot topics around the web. Others feature photos and artwork or Podcasts. Artists can feature their own art or teach others how to be an artist.
If you are more visually oriented, you can use Pinterest or create a Pinterest-like blog site. Finally, you can connect a blog with an e-commerce site or use it specifically to market your book, video, seminar, or event.
Eventually you will have to write something, but you need to do that for almost any job these days.
Is Blog Software Complicated?
Yes and No. As in almost everything in life, there is a learning curve. Once you select what software you want to use to blog (and we’ll show you lots of options later), you need to learn how to use it. This is not particularly difficult.
Also, there are millions of bloggers who have forged this path before you and, as a result, there are oodles of bloggers out there who blog about how to blog. If you get stuck, all you need to know is how to do a search on Google or Youtube and you will probably find somebody’s answer to that problem. Most blog hosting platforms have technical support, too.
Of course, the more you know, the better. If you know a bit about HTML, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and a few programming languages, you can use all that to fine tune your blog and website. However, beginners don’t need to know all that to start blogging. With some blogging platforms (WordPress, for example), you can install plugins to do the same thing without having to program.
What kinds of blogging are there?
In the next few episodes of this series, we’ll be explaining different ways to blog. Think of blogging as publishing. There are many ways to publish, so there are many ways to blog.
You can publish your writing on LinkedIn Publisher, Google+, using Facebook Notes, and possibly attract an audience this way. There are pros and cons to this type of blogging. If your main objective is to get noticed on LinkedIn, for example, and you already are a good writer and willing to take on the competition of thousands of other writers, this might be an excellent way to start.
There are also some very new, very cool tools for very, very simple blogging that didn’t exist even a couple of years ago. We’ll go through several of these soon. The result can range from plain and simple text to sophisticated typography, graphics and design. Some of the simpler tools require you to use a simple marking system called Markdown to format your posts (add boldface, italics, create lists, add web links, headlines, and more). This is not hard to learn, but it is part of that learning curve we talked about earlier.
There are also some more advanced and more traditional blogging tools, which we will also discuss, including some of the more famous and popular tools (including, of course, WordPress). We’ll talk you through your choices here, too.
Before You Start Blogging: Resolve to Not be Stupid
This has nothing to do with software or internet hosts or plugins. This has to do with YOU. Resolve, especially if you are in a job hunt, not to write anything or do anything that will sink your job search. Many HR blogs feature stories of stupid job applicants who they find tweeting, sharing, blogging, or video-ing about using drugs, how they hate their job, how they cheat their employer, how they mistreat other humans, drank and drove, use profanity, are misogynist, or generally show they are miserable human beings. One job hunter posted a photo of a warrant for his arrest online where the public could read it.
Don’t become one of those stories.
Resolve now, if you blog, to treat others with respect, not to be vindictive or hateful, and not to do anything more illegal than getting a speeding ticket. (Leaking government secrets may be morally right or morally wrong, but it probably won’t help your job search either way.) Resolve to try to learn and to improve. This isn’t just blogging, this is life. If you are paranoid, think the world is out to get you, hate others, hate your job and employers, think your boss is stupid, then don’t try blogging. You have other things to work out first. Enough said?
In our next post, we will have a list of questions to ask yourself (don’t worry, we won’t grade you) to help you decide what type of blogging software would be good for you.
Then we will discuss a bunch of new, extra-simple blog hosting software tools, followed by a list of sophisticated, full-featured blogging platforms, with their more complicated choices.
Later, we will discuss whether to blog on social media sites, on somebody else’s blog, or to create your own platform for your blog.
Finally, don’t be afraid, we’ll talk you through this.