This is “Blogs and Personal Websites”, section 11.3 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0). For details on it (including licensing), click here.

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11.3 Blogs and Personal Websites

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how blogs and personal websites are useful to the job search.
  2. Determine whether blogs and personal websites are appropriate for your search.

Blogs Are the Subset of Websites That Feature Articles

A blog, the more commonly used shorthand of weblog, is a type of website or part of a website that features articles, or posts. Millions of blogs are available on the web, and they cover a wide range of subjects. Many organizations have a blog to promote their business and interact with their audience. Individuals also have blogs—some represent purely personal musings, almost like a virtual diary, and some represent specific subject matter or expertise.

For the job seeker, a blog is an opportunity to demonstrate expertise and therefore build credibility. A job seeker in PR might blog about trends in PR or provide PR coverage for a specific industry, organization, or person, for example, blogging press releases and breaking news. In this way, the job seeker provides tangible evidence of what he might offer on the job. A job seeker in children and arts nonprofits might blog about the different organizations active in the space. She might cover events or conferences. She might follow specific issues, such as the shrinking public education budgets for arts in schools.

You can add photos to your blog or use audio or video files as part or all of your posts. Many different templates are available to organize your blog, some of which are free, but some need to be purchased. Different applications you can have with your blog can give you different functionalities, such as the ability to link to your other social media profiles, to create a membership community, to share your calendar, and so forth. What you decide to include and how you organize your blog showcase your creativity, structure, and thinking process.

Blog posts often link to other blogs and published information. Providing such links also demonstrates your expertise and training as a job seeker. You show that you keep abreast of current news and trends in your area of expertise.

Finally, the discipline and commitment required to populate a blog signal that you follow through and are committed to your area of expertise. This signaling works both ways—if you start a blog and it has few posts all dated from a while ago, then you send a negative signal.

If you decide to get started with a blog, you can use free sites like WordPress, Blogger, or Typepad to create an account and start blogging. Alltop, Digg, and Delicious are examples of sites that list highly trafficked articles, many of which are from top blogs. You can see the range of blogs out there, as well as formats, writing styles, and use of audio and video by visiting these article aggregator sites.

A Personal Website Turns You into “You, Inc.”

Many people are accustomed to visiting an organization’s website for more information about it. You might be going to a new restaurant, so you look it up online to see the menu, photos of the dining area, or special promotions or coupons. Likewise, an individual might consider creating a personal website to share information about him or her.

For the job seeker, you might include your résumé and a contact page so prospective employers and recruiters can reach you. You might have samples of your work. This is especially common, in fact, expected, for creative professionals in editorial, art, design, photo, and, of course, digital jobs. You might have a blog as part of your website to cover a specific industry, function, or other expertise. In this way, you showcase yourself much like an organization shares its information and selling points. If a prospective employer wants to learn more about you and searches for you online, they may find your website.

To start a website, you need to register a domain nameThe name of your website.—the name of your website. GoDaddy and Register are two popular registration sites. You also need to select an extension, typically “.com,” but it can also be .net, .org (typical for nonprofits), or other extensions. Most registration sites offer website hosting for free (think of your host as where your website resides on the Internet) in exchange for posting advertisements on your site. You can also pay a monthly hosting charge and get additional storage space for additional pages, no advertising on your site, and other extras.

Interacting with Other Blogs and Websites Is an Alternative to Managing Your Own

If the prospect of populating your own blog and maintaining your own website doesn’t sound appealing, then you might consider creating an online presence for yourself by commenting and interacting with other blogs and websites:

  • Identify the blogs and websites that are related to your target function, industry, and organization.
  • Regularly visit the blogs and websites. You can subscribe to blogs via e-mail or an RSS feed (an online reader) so that posts get delivered to you automatically.
  • When you read something that interests you, post a comment or ask a question to forward the discussion. This showcases your ideas (and bloggers often appreciate knowing posts have elicited responses).
  • If you have an idea for a post that might be suitable for the blog, contact the blog owner and ask if you can guest post.

Interact with other blogs and websites so you can share your ideas and expertise without having to maintain your stand-alone site. Staying on top of other blogs and websites also shows commitment and follow-through because doing so takes time and attention. This interaction also is a form of online networking, and can be seen as a form of social networking, in addition to your activity on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media sites. If you are trying to connect with someone you do not know, following their blog or website is a way to get to know them, as well as demonstrate your commitment and interest. If an organization’s website features a recently published report, commenting on that report can attract the attention of the author and give you an entry point into the organization.

To stay on top of relevant blogs, remember the article aggregators, such as Alltop, Digg, and Delicious, that showcase the top-read news stories and articles and frequently the most-visited blogs. Quora and Squidoo are two examples of websites that are specifically set up for people to showcase their expertise. Quora consists of questions and answers where anyone can contribute. By answering questions about a specific topic, you showcase your expertise in the topic. Squidoo consists of blogs on different topics, called lenses. You set up a lens on your specific area of interest and populate it. This is very similar to starting your own blog, but your blog (or lens) is part of a large collective group, rather than a separate individual blog.

Twitter Is a Microblog for Your Job Search

Twitter is a microblog because you post very short items—140 characters or fewer. It is impossible to showcase deep knowledge in 140 characters. However, you can link to other articles (or your own blog or website) and, in this way, demonstrate that you are current on the trends and news of your area of expertise. The fact that you are using a fast-moving, leading-edge technology tool such as Twitter signals to prospective employers that you are on the leading edge yourself. This is critical for digital-related jobs but also in general for marketing, communications, creative, technology, and other fields where being an early adopter is valued.

You can also follow other people’s Tweets, including organizations’ Tweets. Some organizations post jobs on Twitter. Similar to the Groups function in social media sites that aggregate job seekers, Twitter accounts set up for job seekers link to career advice and job leads. As with blogs and websites, if you are trying to connect with someone you do not know, following them on Twitter is a way to get to know them, as well as demonstrate your commitment and interest. The almost real-time nature of Twitter updates also means you can get a jump on the latest job postings.

Key Takeaways

  • Blogs, websites, and the microblog Twitter can help you, the job seeker, showcase your expertise and connect with people active in your target area.
  • Much like organizations use websites to share information and market to prospective customers, you can use a personal website to share information and market to prospective employers.
  • You do not need to set up your own blog or website to take advantage of the benefits of having one. You can comment and interact with other blogs and websites and still highlight your expertise by the insightfulness of your comments. Commenting also connects you with people; you demonstrate genuine interest by paying attention to what they post.

Exercises

  1. Will you start a blog or website? If you are in a creative field—editorial, art, design, photo, digital—a website is necessary. If you are in a marketing-related field, social media is so important that increasing your activity there can help your search. What steps do you need to take to get started or be more active? Make a list of specific actions (e.g., register a domain name) you need to take, and set a timetable for each.
  2. If you’re still unsure about whether to start your own blog or website, start posting comments on other sites. You want to visit these sites for research anyway. Use your comments as an accountability tool to stay on top of your research and to force yourself to come up with insights.
  3. Even if you decide not to Tweet regularly, write ten Tweets related to your target industry, function, or organizations. This exercises your creativity and your ability to be concise.