My brother wants to be a writer. When he told me this last week my first response was “get yourself a blog (or microblog, for those of us with short attention spans), write and connect with an audience.” When a friend told me she was looking for a new job in retail, I told her the same thing.
It’s not that I’m looking to push blogging on everyone because of the journal or the introspection aspects. Writing is an important and often understated talent, for sure, and as much as I want to tell you that showing a prospective employer your blog will win him over and make him hire you on the spot for your pithy look at organic gardening — I can’t. No, I’m suggesting blogging because, when done properly, it can show your prospective employer that you can forge relationships, that you’re accountable and that you can string a coherent sentence together.
Certainly some jobs are directly related to your abilities in social media. I wouldn’t interview for a job in marketing without getting to know at least the basics of the social networking world. Other positions are closely related, like sales. One can easily comprehend how showing that you can relate to others can help you land the position. But why would I suggest getting a blog for someone who wants to advance in retail?
I realize not everyone in the world is addicted to their technological connections the way I might be and most of my friends still roll their eyes at me when I make social media suggestions to help with a job search. Truth is our economy is not exactly at a growing point right now. Jobs are at a premium and the competition is fierce. Even people looking for entry level are competing with displaced managers. The optimists out there think the economy may turn around next year but even if it starts to, most companies aren’t going to hang a “for hire” sign as soon as the prognosticators tell them the recession is over. We could be looking at a long period of zero job growth, as in no new jobs created. Now don’t argue economic recovery with me. None of us can say for sure how things will unfold. But let’s just brace for worst case scenario and leave it at the fact that for at least the next couple of years those of us looking for work are going to have to shine like a supernova.
If possible, start a blog ahead of your job search. Talk about something you’re passionate about (that won’t offend or hurt your chances to get a second interview or the job). Use pre-drink “cocktail” judgement — aka no talk of religion, politics, race, age, etc. You may also want to stay away from endorsing or panning brands (just in case you end up interviewing with that brand’s company or competitor). Be funny, if that works for you, but try to avoid overdosing on rants and rages. Next, connect with others. Comment on other blogs. Invite people to yours. Enjoy yourself. Have conversations just stay out of direct mud-flinging. After all you never know when you could end up sitting across the interview table from the blogger you defamed.
All things equal — education, background, salary history, etc. — you want to be the candidate they remember. You can do that by wearing a crazy-colored suit or you can bring something to the table that others aren’t. You can show them how you can do the job already by talking about your ability to connect and have authentic conversations across geographic and economic barriers. Don’t just drop the blog URL on your resume and expect it to speak for you. You must draw the correlation for the employer of how this virtual audience will translate to your ability to impress a physical one. Show the employer how you interact with your contacts, the knowledge you’ve gained from these connections; in other words, show an aptitude for growth. Get excited about what you’re doing and the interviewer is bound to also, even if she doesn’t embrace technology like you do. You can even explain how you were self-taught because you saw a trend in the market and decided it was something you needed to know more about. Don’t just tell your potential employer that you are a go-getter, show him.
Social networking is not something you can begin the night before the interview. Just like in life, it takes a while to cultivate connections and have meaningful conversations but the beauty is that you can accomplish this on your schedule, whenever you have the time — after the kids are in bed, on your lunch hour, waiting in a doctor’s office…you get the picture. The learning curve is minuscule and the investment is minimum but the return can be oh-so sweet when you are shaking that hand and being welcomed on board.
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