This is Part III of a three part series, which was initiated when I found Ryan Smith’s blog. I first wrote Ryan Smith’s Blog Sucks (but it’s getting better), then Job Seeker Blogs – Why I Hate Them. Today I’m going to go into what *I* think would be a more appropriate, career-minded solution, whether you are in a job search or not.
I realize that “the problem” is going to be defined differently… for example, those that start out with a job seeker journal will think that they are just pondering, thinking out loud and sharing their personal job search experiences with friends and family. Rob Merrill, veteran tech recruiter shares a really cool story (in the comments yesterday) about how a job seeker put his blog on his resume and blogged about an interview with Rob AND how he was going to use the interview in a negotiation with someone else! Boo hiss! Dumb, stupid! Folks, this is what I’m talking about — even though I consider it to be an extreme, this is the perfect story to support the idea! Be careful!
In fact, don’t even keep an online job search and interview journal. Instead, write that in a journal at home. So what do you write?
I don’t think that widgets and layouts and all that stuff needs a ton of time, effort and fret. HOWEVER, I think that you need to consider the “first impression” affect. I personally feel that blogger and blogspot is one of the cheesiest platforms. People gravitate towards those because they are Google properties, and perhaps they’ll get better search engine results. But Ryan’s default template is so off-brand for (a) a guy, (b) a professional, (c) a marketing graduate, etc. The colors, the width, etc. It’s just all wrong.
Do I put a lot of weight into the design for the award? No. In fact, Rob Frankel has a horrible website (at least, there are a number of things he can do to make it a lot more pleasing to the eye). The difference is Rob’s value prop that you get overrides the layout and first impressions. He is definitely an exception.
Think about content in two dimensions – Breadth and Depth (see image below — “How much do I know” is the breadth, … the depth would be labeled “how well do I know it”). Your breadth shows how many different things you know or are passionate about. Ryan is a marketing/management major. Perhaps things in the breadth columns could include things like organizational behaviors, statistics, purchasing psychology, advertisement theories, etc.
The depth is how well does he know each of the things. Let’s say Ryan is a real brain with regard to statistics and analysis, as it relates to marketing issues. This would be represented in the blue area below (for an example of a blog like this, check out Adelino de Almeidaâ€™s Profitable Marketing!, who won the You Get It award last December).
I think the key here, as you figure out what content to include in your blog, is to recognize what your brand will be. For example, when I started I asked myself, am I Jason the unemployed guy (something that people could relate to) or Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur (and, still in touch with unemployment issues)? The content and tone came from answering this question. To get a good idea of the breadth that I’ve defined just look at my blog categories (on the left).
Can you see how a job search journal wouldn’t really have much depth? And really, the breadth might be all over the place… again, I’ve only seen this (the job search journal) done successfully once, by Clint James.
I hope I’m not mixing terminology up in my mind (between frequency and consistency). Frequency of post is one thing (I recommend three to five posts a week). When I talk about consistency here I’m talking about consistently staying on brand. Is it okay to go outside of the boundaries in the breadth/depth graph? SURE! It’s cool to share who you are and what you think about with your readers. However, I would not do this all the time… it will lose and confuse people. Respect the people that come to your blog by staying on-topic as much as possible.
Note that I set up an “off topic” category and have a handful of posts in there. Not many. I did, however, set up a personal blog where I rant and rave and blog about stuff that just doesn’t fit in this blog. I think about the Jason Alba brand and try and write stuff that I won’t regret later, although I admit that a few posts there are definitely on the border of what I would recommend to others.
I DO NOT think that you need to have an obvious community in order to develop credibility as a professional. However, as you blog, over the months and years, you will develop a community. If you can figure out how to get others to comment on your blog, or create their own blog posts based off of one of your thought-leading posts, you will be seen as a more central authority within your subject matter.
If I were considering a candidate and found their blog to have rich breadth and depth and NO COMMENTS, I’m totally cool with that. If I can see months of really smart posting which gives me a feel for how they will fit in, I’m sold. However, what if they had a number of comments per post, even from other industry bloggers? That’s almost like seeing letters of recommendation, as I consider each comment an endorsement for the blogger (except the negative, mean comments of course).
Going into the writing style, I’m going to want to be able to read it easily. It doesn’t have to be 100% picture perfect, most bloggers whip things out and don’t review them. So I expect to see spelling and grammar errors – but not too many! In addition, I want to read something that is not going to tax my brain, make me mad, offended, sad, or anything else like that. So watch your tone, make it constructive and uplifting (in a real way, fake is out), and let me focus on the good stuff you have to offer without ruining my day.
Once again, this post is way longer than anticipated, and I need to stop. But there is so much more to say! If you want to be impressed, check out the monthly winner award recipients.
Drop a comment and add to this discussion… Ryan, thank you for being a good sport about this! And to those that have commented through this series, thanks a TON for the discussion!!