Many careers advisors say you must blog to get a job. This is not necessarily the case, says Suzanne Collier.
I’ve been to many career talks where I’ve heard others on the panel recommend that you ‘must have a blog’ and you ‘need to be visible by demonstrating your writing’ in order to get a job. Yet frequently I read blogs that have been linked to from candidates CVs/résumés and I have been horrified at what is at the end of the link: badly written blogs about personal goings on. The proofreading and errors can be such that, if anything, your blog could be working against you and killing your job prospects instead of helping you land the job you so richly want.
If I read another blog announcing that ‘this is about me leaving university and finding a job’ I will scream. This is not a blog. This is a journal and needs to be kept private, particularly if you are mentioning names of companies or people and not being very complementary. Yes, some people might find these blogs interesting, but all I want to do is reply and say: ‘if you’d done some basic research and contacted me 12 months ago maybe you wouldn’t have been looking for so long’!
You should also never be negative about someone who has turned you down for a job in a blog, write about your employer in a personal way, or share information and events which could be company confidential.
If you are determined to write a blog to help demonstrate your skills, here are some guidelines:
- Do you need a blog? The purpose of writing a blog may be to evidence your skills and experience. Is this something you need to do on your own? Would it be better for you to volunteer to write guest posts for someone else’s blog or website?
- Is it really a blog? Writing about leaving university and finding a job is not a blog. This is a journal and should be kept private to you – particularly if you are discussing job applications or interviews, albeit anonymously. One candidate who was blogging was in dire need of advice because they were blogging about everything and everyone who had contacted them, and not in a complimentary way. If you were an employer, would you feel encouraged to contact them and risk being blogged about too?
- Does your blog represent you well? Blogging from a position of naivety can later prove extremely embarrassing and not something that you wish to hold up as an example of your work – which is the whole point of having a blog.
- Blog about a topic. If you are going to blog, make it about a subject you know about that interests you. Perhaps you are always going to the theatre, or nightclubs, or watching a sport, or visiting lots of cafés and coffee shops. These types of blogs usually work well because they are not about you but they demonstrate your writing and editing skills and enable you to build a following.
- Proofread your blog and check for errors. Ensure the grammar and sentence construction is correct and set your own ‘house style’ – and be consistent throughout. For example ‘proofreading’ or ‘proof-reading’ – choose one and stick to it. I have seen candidates who have mistyped their own name on their blog; do check everything!
- Keep it current. If you are referencing your blog on your CV as a current example of your work, do ensure that your last blog post wasn’t three years ago.
- Don’t rely on it being read. Don’t expect the person interviewing you to have read your blog.
Whatever course of action you decide to take, do try to see it from an employer’s perspective and think the process through.
This article first appeared in issue 3 of Publishing Talk Magazine.
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