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.
This is not necessarily the case. Frequently I read blogs that have been linked from candidates CVs 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 are 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 ‘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 complimentary. 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 detrimental to someone who has turned you down for a job in a blog. Or 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.
1. 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?
2. Writing about ‘this is about me 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?
3. Aside from which, blogging from a position of naivety, can later prove extremely embarrassing and not something which you wish to hold up as an example of your work; which is the whole point of having a blog.
4. 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 cafes 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.
5. Do 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. E.g. 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!)
6. 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 3 years ago.
7. 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 employers perspective and think the process through.
A version of this article originally appeared in Publishing Talk Magazine.