A Blogging Guide for Job Hunters

Open up opportunities by demonstrating subject-matter expertise with a blog.

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For job hunters, getting published can help you establish yourself as a subject-matter expert, make new connections and set yourself apart from the crowd. While getting published in a trade publication or mainstream media outlet is challenging, there’s one publishing platform that is completely in your control: blogs. Using free and freely available blog and hosting services, you’re the developer, writer, editor and marketing manager of your content — content that can make the difference between getting an interview or not. Blogging is not complicated, but there are a few things you should know before taking the plunge.

Decide your blog’s focus. You can blog about anything and everything, but that doesn’t mean you should. Especially if you are using a blog to further your career and/or find a new job, you’ll want to focus your blog on the area in which you want people to see you as an expert. Want a new job as a developer? Focus your blog on development issues. Want to climb the marketing career ladder? Focus your blog on marketing and communications. You get the idea.

Come up with a name. Clever is good, but descriptive is more important. The name of your blog should convey what the blog is about so people (and search engines) can easily find it.

Select a blog platform. There are many good, free blog platforms to choose from. Widely used platforms include Blogger and WordPress. Blogger is generally seen as easier to use, while WordPress is considered more customizable and scalable.

Decide on a host for your blog. Blogging services such as Blogger will host your blog for free. The catch is that you will end up with a subdomain such as jobseeker.blogspot.com, which is harder for Internet surfers to find.

Alternatively, you can pay a monthly fee to a hosting service and get your own domain, such as jobseeker.com. Services that will host your blog include GoDaddy, 1 and 1 and Page.ly. Some services will give you a free domain, and some won’t. Some provide unlimited space, and some don’t. This piece of the blog puzzle will require some research and thought. Conventional wisdom says it’s better to have your own domain, especially if you will be blogging seriously over the long haul.

Customize your blog. Once you select a platform and a host, it’s time to customize the appearance of your blog using whatever capabilities the platform you chose makes available. When developing a blog for professional reasons, it’s always best to keep things simple and elegant.

Start blogging and keep blogging. The lifeblood of a blog is content. Readers want to see fresh content, and potential employers want to see that you are not only posting engaging expert content but that you are showing commitment by blogging regularly. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but a new post once a week is the very least you should do.

Use common sense. Sure, rants and baiting will get your blog attention, but you want to remain professional at all times and refrain from saying anything that you will regret in the future.

Create social networking connections to and from your blog. Link to your blog from your Facebook page, and update your status with links to new posts and a pithy statement or two about the posts’ value. Perhaps two of your Facebook friends will tell two of their Facebook friends, and so on, and so on. Likewise, tweet links to your blog posts on Twitter. Prospective employers will value the fact that you are blogging as well as the fact that you are using social media to promote the blog.

Don’t quit your day job to blog, but don’t quit blogging for your day job.In other words, keep on blogging. Demonstrating a consistent and constant stream of insight about your industry can open up opportunities long after you have accepted an offer. Just make sure your new employer is OK with it.