Similar to having a professional website to display your accomplishments, creating a blog to discuss various topics from within your career field allows employers to experience your depth of knowledge, personal style, and professional abilities through your writing. It can also increase traffic to your site and get your information in front of more hiring decision makers, if you use it as a personal marketing tool — just like your resume and cover letter.
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But, would a job search blog work for ME? In MY industry?
In all likelihood, YES! Unless you absolutely HATE writing — in which case, you can stop reading now. Blogging for the job hunt is NOT for you!
However, if you don’t mind writing, blogging could be a very positive step forward for your job search. Let’s take a look at a few example fields that could benefit from a career-focused blog:
Professional fields like law or medicine are driven by academic journals and publications. There is never a shortage of information on the latest and greatest, up-and-coming breakthrough. So, why not add in your two cents? If you can write a blog post that will help a client or patient with a particular problem they’re having, you will definitely have an audience. (Just remember to add a disclaimer that you aren’t providing professional medical/legal advice on the internet, even if you’re qualified to do so in real life! It’s a protection for you. Google medical or legal disclaimers if you aren’t sure.) Also, if an employer sees that you are contributing to the greater good through your writing, they’re very likely to take a closer look at your qualifications.
Skilled Labor / Trades
Do you know how many times the general populace googles how to fix a leaky pipe, build a tiny house, or replace faulty wiring? If you are a skilled plumber, electrician, carpenter, mechanic, or involved any number of other trades, you have skills the rest of us are looking for!
If you’re a small business owner within your trade, creating a blog as part of your business website can help bring in more clients. People looking for answers to their problems could find YOUR post, begin to see you as an expert in your field, and come to you with their business. Even if you are searching for a job, a small business owner would be crazy to pass up an employee would has the skills necessary to bring in more business AND get the work done!
For those with careers in education, psychology, social work, or similar helping fields, blogging for the job hunt is a no-brainer. The goal of a modern day blog is to HELP your readers solve a problem. It’s what you naturally do already! Teachers and homeschool parents are always looking for great classroom ideas and activities. Singles, married couples, parents, divorcees, people trapped in abusive relationships — they’re ALL online searching for answers to their relational problems. YOU have the knowledge and skills to help them in a much larger platform than ever before. (As with the professional fields above, be sure to include a disclaimer for your own protection.)
Engineering / Technology / Hard Science Careers
Unless you’re a researcher in a hard science field, you may not be super likely to enjoy writing, but hear me out: employers in your fields KNOW their people aren’t great writers. They’ve read enough horribly written technical guides to understand the depth of the problem. For this reason, crafting a strategic job search blog in a hard science or tech field has enormous potential to distinguish you from the pack. Not many other applicants will have taken the time to write publicly about the issues in your field, so you will stand out as the subject matter expert — the one they want to hire!
Writing / Publishing / Editing
Seriously? Why would someone in these fields NOT want to have a professional blog? Blogging for the job hunt keeps your language skills fresh and constantly puts them in front of a growing audience. For these fields, building a blog is the epitome of putting your money where your mouth is. SHOW — don’t tell — a potential client or employer EXACTLY what you’re capable of producing for them!
I’m sure there are a million other fields that could benefit from a career-focused blog, but those examples should get your wheels turning.
Okay, I’m sold. NOW what do I do?
Awesome! Let’s get you set up! You have two options here:
1) The Free Route
If you are job searching and are currently without employment, finances are likely tight. I totally get that! The good news is that you can create a blog completely for free that will still serve the job search purpose.
Check out free website-building tools like Weebly.com, Blogger.com, or WordPress.com. My husband built his Weebly site in just a couple of hours with zero technical issues. My blog started on Blogger, and it was very intuitive to set up and get going.
While user-friendly and FREE are always plusses, there are also a few drawbacks to using a hosted site for your blog:
- You don’t own your site. If the company should somehow go bankrupt or otherwise cease to exist, your content and web presence go with it. Also, your URL will be something like www.yourname.weebly.com. It’s not the MOST professional option out there, but it’s definitely better than nothing!
- Your ability to customize the site is limited. Adding a special “theme” (read blog format, foundation, stylized set-up) generally isn’t an option. There are some options for customizing the look of your free site, though. If you’re JUST using blogging for the job hunt, you probably won’t need much beyond just the basics.
- Should you later decide to continue blogging and want to update your theme, monetize the blog, add an online store, etc., it can be a MAJOR pain to shuffle everything over to a new, self-hosted site. (Ask me how I know. ?)
2) The Paid, Self-Hosted Route
Starting out on a free platform can be great for getting your feet wet. However, as I pointed out above, there are certain drawbacks. On the other hand, you can pay for a self-hosted website for your blog, which has the exact opposite set of pros and cons.
- Pro: a self-hosted site is entirely YOURS. You own it. Unless YOU take it down, it’s likely not going anywhere. Plus, you can choose any domain name you want, such as a very professional www.yourname.com.
- BONUS: once you have your own domain name, you can also get a personalized email address like HireMe@YourName.com. It just lends an extra layer of professionalism to your search. (Not to mention a dedicated account to house your job search correspondence. No more digging through your personal email to find important emails about your upcoming interview!)
- Pro: a self-hosted site is completely customizable. You can choose to use a free theme or buy a prettier, more functional one. This site uses a free WordPress theme, which meets my needs for now. Eventually, I may upgrade, but for now, free works great.
- Pro: you have the option to monetize your blog in a multitude of ways to earn money WHILE you job search — or use it as an additional income stream once you are gainfully employed again. (I do NOT recommend trying to monetize a free hosted blog. Most affiliates and ad networks look more favorably on self-hosted sites, and having a free hosted site can mess with your applications for a new self-hosted site. Again, ask me how I know. ?)
As I mentioned self-hosted sites have the opposite pros AND cons from free hosted sites:
- Con: you have to pay for it. When money is tight, the last thing we want to do is shell out more money for the job search. (There ARE, however, pretty reasonable prices out there for basic hosting, so there are frugal options here, too.)
- Con: self-hosted sites are not nearly so user-friendly or intuitive to set up. There’s a reason there are so many tutorials out there on how to do it! While this route may take a bit more technical know-how (or will power in my case!), once you get the basic functions going, it’s not bad.
However, if you fall into any of these three categories, definitely consider a paid, self-hosted blog:
a) you want to make sure your blog is completely professional,
b) you want to have control over the design and functionality to showcase your technical or graphic design skills, or
c) you think you might really enjoy blogging and want to keep it up even after the job search ends.
My recommendations for building a self-hosted website and blog is to get set up with a free domain name and a year of hosting through BlueHost. (Yes, I realize getting hosting for a self-hosted site sounds ridiculous, but it’s the way it works. You pay for the domain name, then pay someone to keep it and all your content safe for you on their servers. You own it, but they’re your safety deposit box.)
Once you have the hosting piece squared away, you can set up WordPress.org (DIFFERENT than WordPress.com!) for your site framework and blogging platform with just a few clicks. That part of the process is VERY simple! If you need someone to walk you through the basic set up, BlueHost has their own tutorial here.
(I’ve heard good things about SiteGround for WordPress, too, but I don’t have any experience with them. If I get to try them out at some point, I’ll be sure to come back and update you!)
If you choose to pay for hosting, I strongly suggest doing at least the 12-month plan. It’s a better deal than paying for just 3 or 6 months at a time, plus you don’t have to remember to renew your plan should your search take longer than anticipated. (Praying it’s quick for you!)
If you KNOW you’re going to love blogging, go for the 3-year plan. It’s the best overall deal, but not one I recommend diving into unless you’re SURE you want to stick with it long-term, whether for love of writing or for the professional boost it could lend your career over time.
Are you ready to give Blogging for the Job Hunt a shot?
If you’re ready to get set up with your career-focused blog, let me know in the comments below! I’m here to cheer you on, give you feedback on how your site looks, and help you figure out the whole what-to-write thing. Speaking of what to write, stay tuned next week for more tips on writing content for your job search blog, as well as how to promote it on social media and making sure Google knows you exist!
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.