Write a blog, get a job?

In preparing for the first Jbloggers meetings of the year, I’ve been thinking about why people blog, which is something that has been on my mind for a while, really since this whole initiative started.  From the perspective of the FYE program, having a lot of active student blogs at John Jay means that prospective students can get a taste of the college by looking around online, that new students can reach out to experienced students and can feel more a part of the campus virtually, and that all students can interact with each other on the web.  If you look at the Jbloggers open house flier below, you’ll also see that we feel like blogging is a great way to make your voice heard and express yourself, to showcase and develop your writing skills, and to build your resume.  This last one got me thinking about the use of blogs in career development, so I decided to search around for some success stories in that realm.  Here’s what I found.

Last year, a few Jbloggers and I went to hear Julie Powell speak about her experiences with blogging success: her blog where she recounted cooking every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking got her a book deal, and the memoir eventually became the movie Julie and Julia.  I just read an article in The New Yorker about Tavi, a 14-year-old fashion prodigy, whose fashion blog has gotten her invited to fashion shows all over the world; now she’s styling fashion shoots as a high school freshman.  I know a ton of people who make a living blogging, for example MJ, who writes an Idol blog, and this guy, whose blog got so popular that VH1 hired him to write on their site.  The NY Times “Times Topics” on Blogs and Blogging has 1364 articles, including this one on how blogging contributes to democratic movements in China, one about how a post on a blog named YogaDork about Lady Gaga taking a yoga class recently went viral, and one on the uber-success of a funny cat picture blog.

Of course, I’m not saying that every Jblogger will become a professional blogger, get a book deal, or have their life made into a movie (although all of those things would be pretty cool).  But I do think that blogging can help for future careers in a couple of key ways.

(1) Good writing skills are necessary for many jobs, and blogging keeps you writing, editing and revising constantly.  It also forces you to think about the purpose of your writing, and your different audiences.  Having your writing in one place encourages self reflection and development.

(2) Personal blogging can help you figure out your passions and might help you make career decisions.  Employers generally like passionate people, and forcing yourself to write down your ideas, thoughts, and opinions can really get you excited and fired up over something.  You might also wind up doing more research about certain topics so that you can make a more informed point on your blog, and you never know when that knowledge will come in handy on the job or in an interview.  If you’re not sure what you want to do in the future, looking back on your blog posts might help you see yourself in a different way.

(3) Depending on the content of your blog, you might decide to show it to potential employers, who can visit it to get a more complex view of you than they get in an interview or cover letter.  You can also use your blog as an archive for other writing that you’ve done — if an employer just wants a short writing sample, you can provide that, but if they want to see more, it can be housed on your blog.

We hear a lot about the dangers of the web in regards to employment — employers firing people because of facebook, or people not being offered jobs because of something they did/said on the web.  These are real dangers, and I think they are certainly something to consider carefully when starting to blog.  Your online persona is a huge part of who you are in the real world, now more than ever.  My friends at Red Rover are fond of saying that in the future Google will be your resume.  I don’t think that’s true quite yet, but I do think that now is a good time to consider what you want employers to see when they search the web for you, and I think a thoughtfully written, interesting blog is a pretty good way to start.

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