Blog Basics: How a Blog Can Boost Your Career
Posted by Cara Scharf on May 5, 2011
These days there’s a blog about almost everything—from the daily headlines to pictures of pets in embarrassing costumes. That’s not surprising given blogs are easy to start, usually free, and a great way to tell the world what you’re thinking. But what many people don’t realize is that a blog can also be a vital tool for job hunting.
Starting a professional blog shows employers that you’re engaged in your field, eager to learn, and committed to keeping up with industry trends. “Today’s job market is so competitive that you have to do as much as possible to stand out,” says Alison Doyle, author of Internet Your Way to a New Job: How to Really Find a Job Online. “Your blog can convey more to a hiring manager than a resume.”
Before you start typing, read these hints for putting together a memorable blog and getting employers to notice your presence in the blogosphere.
Choose a Unique Topic
This is the biggest challenge you’ll face. Since you’re inviting employers to your blog, the topic should cover your specific industry or skills in a way that stands out from the crowd. “Start with your passion and expertise, but if that’s too general, create a niche by catering to a specific audience,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Me 2.0: Building a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success. “For example, instead of blogging as a doctor, blog as the top doctor in your town for young adults.”
Keep the Content Professional
While many blogs discuss pop culture or funny pictures, a professional blog should only have content you’d feel comfortable sharing with an employer. You should include your own thoughts and opinions—just make sure they’re on topic. Comment on an industry article you found, review a book related to your expertise, or offer tips based on a previous job or research. If you already have a personal blog, keep it separate by using a different host name or account.
Match Your Blog to Your Brand
Like a successful company, you should have a strong professional brand that pulls together your skills, experiences, and education. Then project that brand with tools, such as a resume, LinkedIn, or Twitter. However, in order for your brand to resonate with employers, it’s crucial to be consistent. When picking a blog name, URL, or username, stick with what’s on your resume. You might even consider purchasing your name as a domain so you can create www.yourname.com, which can be redirected to your blog.
If you’re going to create a blog, you need to be active enough to show employers that you’re committed to keeping current on industry buzz. Set a goal for the number of entries you want to post per week (two is a good minimum). Your posts don’t have to be too in-depth; in fact, they can be as simple as a link to a recent article and a few sentences about why it’s worth reading.
Market Your Blog
Once you have a cache of entries, include your blog on your resume, or mention it in interviews or follow-up conversations with employers. On a resume, list your blog with your personal information or under “Relevant Experience,” and leverage the digital nature of your blog. “A brilliant strategy is to include a hotlink in your electronic resume,” says Maureen Crawford Hentz, manager of talent acquisition, development and compliance at Osram Sylvania.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
“More than seeing that you have a blog, I want to see that you’re legitimately engaged in your industry,” says Crawford Hentz. It’s hard to stay engaged if you’re just writing a blog for your own gratification; instead, show that you and your blog are part of a greater dialogue. Search for other blogs (try technorati.com), post comments, and link to them from your blog. Read books and post comments on Amazon. “You don’t have to be an expert—you just have to participate,” says Crawford Hentz.