Published on February 17, 2016, at 4:00 p.m.
by Morgan Martin.
In the past few years, blogging has become a useful tool for individuals and businesses alike. Businesses use blogs as a way to provide people with more insight to the inner workings of their companies, and individuals are now using blogs as self-promotional tools to broaden their job opportunities.
In “Why You Should Blog to Get Your Next Job,” Jennifer Parris discussed how blogs are invaluable when going through the application process.
“It’s a resume, but better,” Parris wrote. “Everyone has a resume. But a blog allows you to highlight the skills on your resume, times ten. For example, if you’re a writer, you can flex your writing muscles and post examples of your creative writing. Even if you’re a tax accountant, you can write your thought-provoking opinions on some of the new tax laws or add a testimonial from a happy client. Just be sure what you write is accurate and well-supported.”
Mandy Johnson, senior associate director of the University of Alabama Supply Store, has worked in the business and communications industries for more than 20 years, as well as hired for companies such as Gap and Old Navy, GMAC, Restoration Hardware and Birmingham Southern College.
Johnson advocates for personal blogs, but with a few stipulations.
“I think any time you offer up a personal blog to a hiring manager, you are taking a risk. I like risk-takers, so I would be impressed that you were offering me the opportunity to see your blog, but I would also be really turned off if the blog were not well-written or if it included offensive or inaccurate information,” Johnson said. “Sure, I might use the info you have provided and conduct a simple Google search to find your personal blog anyway, but my expectations would not be as high for it in that case. If you give me a link to your blog, and invite me to read it — it better be good.”
Setting up a blog is simple, but in order to create one that stands out to employers, there’s an outline that needs to be followed.
The blog needs focus
The list of industries one can go with a communications degree is endless. A blog tailored to a certain industry is perfect to reference in interviews and can demonstrate ample knowledge as well as how enthusiastic the author is about said industry.
Erin Shrewsbury, an interior design major at The University of Alabama, uses her blog to connect with fellow interior design fanatics as well as showcase her talent in design work.
“Mainly I just think having a platform to show your work and even your interests gives employers an opportunity to see a little deeper into who you are,” Shrewsbury said. “When employers look at my blog, I want them to see the success of my past projects, and how passionate I am about my future profession.”
According to Johnson, personal blogs can still be useful in a hiring situation even if the focus is unrelated to your profession.
“I am a firm believer that someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about any one thing, can be enthusiastic and passionate about other things, too.” Johnson said. “Let’s say I am interviewing you for a marketing position in the auto industry, but your personal blog is about your passion for cooking. If that blog is well-written, appeals to its audience and teaches me something — then I would be pretty sure you could write a blog about cars if need be.”
Establish an audience
Successful blogs generally have a following. In a blog’s early stages, the main following stems from friends and family members. Social media plays a huge role in this aspect. Encourage followers to share the blog posts, so that the post may pop up on a person of influence’s timeline.
“I have read personal blogs and even forum postings shared on my social media by individuals that impressed me so much that I sought out the individuals to find out more about them,” Johnson said. “I like people who understand that everything they publish is part of a much bigger picture. There are no secrets in this digital age, so a savvy candidate will make sure anything they post online reflects the overall brand or message they are building for themselves as well as appeals to the specific audience they are trying to reach.”
Employers will be impressed by one’s ability to captivate an audience. If a blog’s Web presence is prevalent, a company can even use the blog’s popularity to its advantage.
Consistency is crucial when managing a personal blog. Consistency in tone and style shows an employer the blogger’s writing skills. Good grammar and punctuation are critical as well.
In a Huffington Post article, Catriona Pollard, author of “From Unknown to Expert,” discussed another aspect of consistency.
“Regardless of how you use your blog, be consistent. Regularly posting fresh content is important to attracting new readers,” Pollard said. “This can seem time consuming; however it will set you apart as an expert in your field and if your blog hasn’t been updated in a long time, readers may lose interest.”
Students graduating in May have this word constantly swimming through their heads. A blog is the perfect way to interact with individuals of influence as well as gain useful partnerships.
Blogs can be sponsored by, partnered with or endorsed by other, larger publications or organizations. Collaborations with other bloggers and producing joint material reaches an even larger audience.
A big trend with fashion blogging is to sign up for LIKEtoKNOW.it. LIKEtoKNOW.it is used through Instagram. Essentially, an individual follows a fashion blog, likes a picture with LIKEtoKnow.it tagged and then an email will be sent to the individual detailing the cost of the outfit and the brand.
Several fashion bloggers featured on LIKEtoKNOW.it’s Instagram page have found blogging success. The service racks up followers for the blogs and connects fellow fashion bloggers, making it the perfect network to join if fashion blogging is one’s passion.
Credibility is key
A blog is useless if the information posted is inaccurate. Only well-researched topics should be posted along with the information’s original source.
Another good way to build credibility is to allow blog followers to comment on the postings. In “How to Build Your Blog’s Credibility in Just Seconds,” Derek Halpern, writer for The Thesis Statement, addressed why allowing blog comments is so important.
“When people stumble on a blog, they decide whether they should read or run,” Halpern said. “That’s where blog comments come in. If people stumble on your blog and see a lot of comments, they assume other people trust your site, and thus make the assumption that they should trust your site too.”
There are many aspects that go into a company’s decision to hire. Blogging is a good way to set oneself apart from the competition, as well as show tangible evidence that one is knowledgable about the field they are entering. The most important thing to remember when one is considering to share their personal blog with a hiring manager is to be original.
Johnson said, “You’re building your brand — the brand of you, so to speak – and nothing gives me better insight into how you would present my company’s brand than how you present yourself in an application and interview process.”
So, if you’re looking for a leg up in the interviewing process, a personal blog may be the best way to start.