A lot of job search advice these days includes recommendations that job seekers create a blog related to their field or industry. Some job seekers, as a result, view it as a silver bullet for landing a new job.
Does it work?
Maybe… but not necessarily the way many people think it will. And it takes time and effort to do it right.
Blogging can definitely be an asset in your job search, however, set realistic expectations, and learn how to make it effective…
What's likely: At some point in a hiring process, it's very likely that someone at the company you are interviewing with, will Google your name to see what they find. Several surveys have been done in the last couple of years that show this is true. What they find, will either help your chances of gaining an offer, or hurt them. A blog, that is professional and useful for your field or industry will typically be viewed very positively and is likely to set you apart from other candidates. It shows you're serious about your profession even outside of your job obligations. It shows that you think about your career and are able and willing to communicate what you know effectively for the benefit of others. It will support and enhance, the perception you created with your resume and your interviews. It is likely to swing the pendulum of their hiring decision in your direction!
What's unlikely: While it's reasonable to believe that a blog can enhance your chances of landing an offer once you're already being considered, it's highly unlikely that you will be found and considered for a position simply because you have a blog out there. It's unrealistic to begin a blog with a hope that if you "build it, they will come". A blog is not likely to become your "field of dreams". There are millions upon millions of blogs already out there, and they are a drop in the ocean of millions of other kinds of websites. The likelihood of an employer or recruiter to even begin looking for a candidate for a position by randomly searching through blogs, much less coming across your blog, is extremely minute. Unless you are a particularly famous or uniquely regarded name in your field or industry, your blog will not be your vehicle for being found online.
While it feels good to be "published" online, it's highly unlikely that your blog will gather significant traffic at all. A blog can gain a sizeable audience over time, however, it generally takes daily new content and a great deal of effort at publicizing it widely to get to a significant level. A wide audience, for your job search purposes, however, is not your primary goal. Gaining credibility with a potential employer is.
What to do: In order to make a positive impact, here are some pointers to consider:
- Create content. A blog with 2 or 3 entries has little value. If an employer looks at your blog and sees that only a couple of entries have been made, it's easy for them to assume that you either have no commitment to it, or that it's only out there for show. It will not be seen positively.
- Keep it professional! In order to make a positive impression to gain employment, you ought to write as if every entry were part of a job interview. Never use bad language or poor grammar. Never slam other organizations or individuals. Provide worthwhile information about your topic that is not simply fluff or platitudes. If an employer were to read one of your blog posts, it's an obvious way they can judge your communication skills, depth of knowledge and understanding, and possibly your attitude or disposition. It's certainly valid to express thoughtful opinions, however, it's never a good idea to write rants.
- Keep it up to date. A blog whose last entry was 6 months ago is a dead blog. Your blog will have the greatest credibility if it has regular and recent entries. In order to have a positive effect, your blog should never have it's most recent entry more than 2 weeks old.
- Publicize! If an employer decides to seek out what they can about you online, you want to be sure they can find your blog! The best way to do that is to make sure your blog is linked from other places on the internet. The easiest way to do that, is to provide links to your blog articles yourself. Post them on Twitter, in a Google Profile, on your LinkedIn Profile, Facebook, and anywhere else you can. The more links there are back to your blog, the higher likelihood it will show up in a search. Additionally, put the URL on your resume to make it easy to find you.
- Document what you know. A great many people, after having worked in a particular field or industry for years, gain valuable knowledge that can be instructive to others. However, they never take the time or effort to document that knowledge, and over time it can be lost. Blogging is a terrific vehicle to share that knowledge and insight with others, or at least have it written out to refer back to when you may need it in the future. Once you begin writing, you may be surprised at how much you didn't realize you knew!
- You just MIGHT build an audience. If you're blog offers enough fresh and unique content that is valuable to others in your field, you just might find that your number of regular readers grows significantly. If so, you may be able to put ads, e-books, or other offers on your site as a way to generate an income. VERY few people ever make enough money from a blog to quit their "day" jobs. However, an additional side-income is never a bad thing.
- Be presented with other opportunities. If your blog does get viewed as providing "expert" insights or knowledge in your topic, it may also generate opportunities for greater exposure. You may receive requests for interviews by other publications. You may get speaking requests, or you may be asked to write for other publications as well. Blogging can, and has opened new doors for people that they otherwise may not have been presented.
Is blogging the "holy grail" to a successful job search. Definitely not. However, it can tip the scales in your favor when you are being considered for a position, and may provide other opportunities as well!