Whenever I chat to someone who’s struggling on the job front, I think back to my own experience. I graduated in 2007 – around the time that the job market started to go kaput – and for the 18 months that followed, I spent 9 of them unemployed. Looking back, I wish I’d done things differently. I know that I have the benefit of hindsight now, but one of the things I wish I’d done – as daft as it may sound at first – was to start a blog. Therefore, when I chat to someone who’s going through what I’ve previously gone through, depending on what type of career that they want to get into, I usually tell them that they should consider starting a blog.
On the surface, that sounds like daft advice, I admit. Why start a blog when the most important thing that you should be doing is hitting up the job boards and recruitment agencies and working on your CV? Well of course I’m not suggesting that you should be blogging instead of finding a job – but there’s no reason why you can’t do blogging on the side to support your efforts.
…”Support your efforts,” you might be wondering? Here’s what I mean:
It can help you to gain skills and experience in the meantime
The whole catch-22 scenario around experience (whereby employers want you to have experience, but you need experience to get a job) is enough to make your head spin and peeve you off simultaneously. It may not be career experience, but say if you’re looking to get into copywriting or journalism, you can start building up your experience in your own time, on your own blog.
Likewise, if you’re looking to get into web design or graphic design, not only can you use a blog to showcase your work, but the blog itself will also act as a showcase of your work.
It can be a good (but productive) distraction from the job hunt
Constant job hunting with no end in sight is bad for the soul. Trust me, I’ve been there. Somewhat wastefully, I used to break up the monotony of job hunting by watching TV and playing video games. Looking back, I wish I’d used that time more productively, which blogging would have done.
Now admittedly everyone’s different, and we all need to take time to relax and take our mind off things at some point or another, but sometimes (for me anyway!) I find that blogging doesn’t feel like working. It may not be as fun as firing up the PS3, but it’s certainly not in the same field as doing work or job hunting – however, it’s much, much more productive.
It can help with networking (which can help with finding a job)
This next point may feel like a slight subtle ad for Cardiff Blogs (it’s not!), but either way, it’s true. While I only joined Cardiff Blogs’ admin team earlier this year, I first started visiting the events back in 2011. I only intended to go along to learn a few new things – as I was fairly new to blogging at the time – and to meet some like-minded folks, yet over the years I’ve made a few great contacts and connections through it.
So once you start your blog, you may find yourself wanting to go to Cardiff Blogs or other local blogging events (whether it’s WordPress Users Wales – which is also in Cardiff – or a local blogger meet-up in your town/city) and meet other bloggers. And you never know… You may strike up a conversation with someone who knows about a job that’s available that’d be perfect for you!
It could even end up being a little money-earner on the side…
You can also use the time between job hunting to try and monetise your blog, by simply including adverts on it or affiliate referral links – e.g. as I run a blog all about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), I could have adverts to sites providing SEO tools and/or SEO learning resources, and if someone buys from them, I get a small commission in return.
Now I’ve heard numerous stories of people who have tried to make it rich by putting ads on their blog, only to find that they barely make a couple of quid each month. However if your blog gains momentum and becomes popular, that figure could rise. And while I’m sure that you’ll have found a job long before the months or even years it can take to make a decent return from blog ads, at least you could be getting things sorted now, leading to an additional (albeit potentially small) income alongside your regular salary.
It shows commitment, dedication and passion
Starting a blog is not as difficult an endeavour as you might think (as I’ll go on to explain in more detail below), but maintaining and updating it on an on-going basis shows to a prospective employer that you are committed and dedicated to your craft and your subject.
It can also show your passion, especially if your passion shines through in your writing and/or design. If your blog’s content closely reflects the job that you’re applying for, then that can work very well in your favour…
…But do I really have the time to start a blog?!
I think what puts a lot of people off blogging initially is that they imagine that it’ll be a major hassle to create and maintain one. Sites like WordPress.com and Medium are really easy to get stuck into straight away, and even if you were to consider WordPress.org (which has to be self-hosted, but opens up much more customisation options), it isn’t exactly an arduous task to set up or migrate to in the future. Besides, if you were going to take a 1-2 hour break from the job hunt anyway, why not use the time to get cracking on blogging?
My challenge for you: give it a go. The worst that can happen is that you write a few posts, get fed up and give up on it. At the very least, you will have worked on your writing skills a bit, which can be carried across to re-working your CV and in writing cover letters for job vacancies.
Showing it off on your CV
Once you get to a point where you feel comfortable and confident with the blog – e.g. it has a few posts behind it and you’re satisfied with the design – then why not include it on your CV, even if it’s only in the Interests/Hobbies section?
A word of caution though… Depending on your blog’s content and your style of writing, you may want to be careful drawing attention to it if it risks coming across as unprofessional – e.g. if you’re very open and honest in your posts and your use of language…! Arguably my blog isn’t exactly hugely professional (even though I talk about topics related to my career and the industry that I operate in), however I keep it completely separate to my professional site, which is intended to win freelance work. Put it this way: I wouldn’t be comfortable hosting blog content on the professional site, simply because I don’t think that it would match the tone and professionalism of that site. You might find the same.
Thanks for reading this post – I hope that you’ve found it useful. In fact I’d love to hear any examples or experiences where a job candidate felt that having a blog helped them to land a job. If so then please share your experiences and examples in the comment section below. Thank you!
Steve Morgan is part of the Cardiff Blogs admin team, whose own blog – SEOno – is all about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), among a few other things related to online marketing. He also does a bit of work for his parents’ IT recruitment agency – Computer Recruiter – who were the inspiration for this post. Follow Steve on Twitter: @steviephil.