Blogging your way to gainful employment in a troubled economy and competitive job market. Building your Resume 2.0.
Survival of the fittest will be the guiding principle in this job market. There is a glut of high-quality talent hitting the market in just about every sector of the economy, just as fewer and fewer jobs are being created. TechCrunch started the layoff tracker to keep tabs on the tech carnage, and we’re all-too familiar with the blood that’s already been spilled on Wall St. With the exception of Google, which is basically the trademarked term for the Internet, most companies are either hurting already or preparing for the pain. Keeping a job will be tough. Finding a job can be next to impossible. Our recommendation for out-of-work job seekers is to differentiate themselves and establish competitive advantage by starting a blog.
We attended the Green Business Networking (GBN) event last Tuesday in Santa Monica. It’s a monthly get-together of green business professionals held at the Ambrose Hotel, which is also green. The space is fantastic. This time around we met a young architect who’d recently been terminated. He was the last hire. The firm lost a big job, so he was the first to go. He wasn’t at GBN because he specialized in green building. He was just there to network and meet new people, which is the right thing to do.
Our conversation included a discussion (naturally) of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. The first of her two historic works of fiction, it tells the story of Howard Roark, a gifted and principled architect. Roark embodied the same heroic ideals that would come to define John Galt in Atlas Shrugged. He symbolized humankind’s boundless capacity to innovate, produce, and create with little more than a free mind and free will. So our career advice for the young architect was not simply to start a blog…but to start and build his blog. Because there is a new reality when it comes to marketing one’s self to potential employers, and the resume has nothing to do with it. (Incidentally, The Fountainhead is an excellent read if you’re out of work. Highly motivating and inspiring.)
In fact, the resume is quickly becoming an antiquated medium for your professional record. These black-and-white pages of reverse chronological work history have zero depth and convey nothing of your true character or achievements. They are static and rigid with ludicrous corporate speak that we, as journalists and consumers, have come to despise from companies and brands but still continue to use in selling ourselves. The resume is like a press release in this way. It takes a shallow, one-dimensional form and is unoriginal by design. It’s the lowest common denominator, and yet we all need to have one. That’s the unfortunate reality. The good news is that you can do much more to set yourself apart by starting your own professional blog. This is Resume 2.0.
The following are 10 reasons why you should start blogging as a strategic career decision. To be clear, these are not personal journals or personal rants. These are professional blogs that cover topics not only in your industry but in your specific niche. It should be narrow enough to have a clear focus while broad enough to be interesting, both for you to write and for the audience to read.
1. You’re an expert. Now prove it.
Whatever it is you do for a living, we’re assuming you’re pretty good at it. This knowledge, skill, and experience can be converted into blog content. It’s up to you to download that into a blog that will be interesting and valuable to your colleagues and other folks in your industry. This is your chance to prove what you know. It’s one thing to list bullet points on a resume and quite another to write intelligently about your industry and demonstrate a certain degree of critical analysis and thought leadership.
2. You’ve got time on your hands. Use it.
If you’ve received a severance package, then you may have some breathing room. We wouldn’t suggest taking a vacation or catching up on Oprah. Instead, it’s a perfect opportunity to launch a blog and gain some immediate traction. If possible, our best advice is to dedicate the better part of a month to building your blog by writing multiple articles per day and learning all you can about the art and science of blogging. Read books like The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly and several others in this category.
3. Stay sharp and on the cutting edge.
By blogging on your industry, it forces you to stay on top of the latest news and trends. You’ll keep a closer eye on what’s happening by reading trade journals and industry media on a daily basis, not to mention other blogs in your space. When it comes time for your interview, you’ll find that you’re not just quoting the top media outlets in your industry but also things you’ve actually written about on your blog. “Actually, I wrote about this very issue the other day on my blog, and my take was…”
4. Produce something and create value.
If you’re driven by performance and results, then being out of work can lead to lethargy and fits of depression. A blog provides a creative outlet where you are producing tangible value in the form of content on a daily basis. In fact, your blog can serve as your job and provide that essential feedback and fulfillment…until you find a job that actually pays.
5. Network with fellow bloggers.
Job hunts involve many forms of networking. You call old colleagues and bosses. Distant relatives and friends of the family. You find yourself at random networking events. It’s likely, though, that one of the most powerful networks in your industry is the bloggers. If they’re covering the industry, chances are they know the power players and shot callers. But you can’t just start networking with bloggers out of the blue. First, you have to become a blogger. And in order to that, you need to establish credibility. This can take time, which is why we recommend a solid month of intense blogging and blog research if you can afford it.
6. Make yourself discoverable.
The principles we describe in Discovery Marketing can apply just as well to people as they can to brands or products. A blog rich with industry-relevant content is bound to be discovered by someone in a position of influence who needs someone with the skills and insight that lead them to discover your blog in the first place. Assuming your blog is designed as a Resume 2.0, where the “About” section clearly states your ongoing search for employment opportunities, the VP or hiring manager who finds your blog through a keyword search will feel compelled by that discovery and likely follow up if they have an opening.
7. Establish your brand.
Much has been written about the art of personal branding or building your individual brand. If you’re looking for a job, then you’re marketing your brand, whether you realize it or not. As a blogger, you can build on that brand by establishing both credibility and reputation, two of the most valuable currencies in the blogosphere and on the social web.
8. Master the craft and position yourself accordingly.
Just as it took several years for every company to realize it needed a website (and why), sooner or later every company will realize it needs a blog. After that, they’ll realize they need more. Which means they’ll need bloggers. But not just any bloggers. They’ll need bloggers with specialized experience and knowledge in your industry. So we’re very bullish on blogging as a key skill set in this next phase of the so-called New Economy. In fact, many companies are already creating Chief Blogger positions. If nothing else, it’s something to aspire to.
9. Forget about advertising.
As you start to generate traffic, you may be tempted to think of your blog as a business. You can sell ads. You can work in your robe all day. While it’s a nice thought, we caution against these delusions of grandeur. If you’re reading this, please remember that the best way to monetize your blog is by getting a job and leveraging your blogging ability for greater pay. The chances of supporting yourself on advertising is slim.
10. Build an audience.
When you’ve established yourself in the eyes of Google (search traffic) and a handful of loyal readers, you’ll have an audience. As a job candidate, you’ll be that much more valuable if you own a body of content and have an audience of relevant visitors, however small they might be.
To get started, we recommend registering a domain name with GoDaddy that will be the eventual home to your blog. Next, sign up for a blog at WordPress.com and use that domain you just registered as the WordPress subdomain e.g. http://www.yourdomain.wordpress.com. It’s best to start by blogging on a hosted WordPress blog. If you stay with it, then it’ll make sense to self-host your blog on your own domain. Customer service at GoDaddy can walk you through the transfer when the time comes.
If you’ve used your blog to land a job or to enhance your job security, feel free to share your stories in the comments. If you have questions about blogging, feel free to leave them in the comments. We’ll be happy to respond.