That title feels a little bit like link bait, but it has the virtue of being true. Blogging DID help me get a job. I can now say that five years of blogging has been worth it, career-wise. Of course, I’ve always known that reading and writing about reading was worth it for my sanity, if nothing else (sanity is underrated). And the books! Books are glorious. Discovering and attending book events like BEA feels like visiting a strange world where everyone is at least as nerdy as I am. It’s sweet and unnerving and perfect.
Anyway, back to the job bit.
Background: I’ve been at the same nonprofit in DC for three and a half years. I started working for them after grad school didn’t pan out and that one disastrous entry-to-the-office-world job. I was content if not perfectly happy doing what I did: it involved a lot of staring at spreadsheets, but it paid enough to eat well and travel to Ireland, and I had other things going on in life to get my ‘fulfillment’ quota.
Then a job opened up in another department for a Web Content Manager. I looked at the description out of curiosity, and then I did a double take. I could see the path to my dream career, and I had the skills to do it – I’d learned them from blogging. When they offered it to me (after all of the usual HR type things), I took it without hesitation. I may be the happiest I’ve ever been in a work environment – and that’s counting the first time I cashed a paycheck, when I began lifeguarding at age fifteen.
Below I’ve copy/pasted some of the exact requirements from my job description, and how my blogging experience helped me land the job.
Minimum of 3-5 years’ relevant online website development and management experience.
I’ve been running Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia on my own for over five years (at times more successfully than others…) – and I have slowly and surely built a following by connecting with fellow bloggers and engaging in social media. I listed my blog on my resume under ‘Relevant non-work skills and experience,’ and I made sure to talk about it in my cover letter and during the interview process. I also included my Twitter handle so that the hiring manager could see that I post consistent content with a targeted focus, and that I had a sizeable audience.
Knowledge of HTML and experience with popular content management systems and analytics programs.
If you have tried your hand at blogging, you’ve probably gotten really familiar with Googling for help. I’ve done my fair share of this, but I can also point to Bloggiesta as one of the events that helped me develop my web skills. Through Bloggiesta mini-challenges I learned basic HTML, I began to track my blog with Google Analytics, and I played around with RSS feeds and services. All of these skills are directly transferable to my new position.
Excellent SEO/social media/web editing skills.
I dabbled with Klout for a while before I got a little skeeved out by how much information and access they had to my online life. How did I learn about Klout? Bloggers. And of course my Twitter presence is almost entirely book-related, though I tend to listen more often than participate. Still, I could point to those things, plus knowledge of Google Analytics, Google+, Facebook and LinkedIn. Web editing? I do that nearly every day on Blogger. And SEO was another one of those things I learned about via Bloggiesta.
Even though blogging taught me the skill set for this job, it’s important to acknowledge that I’d already built trust and community in the company through my 3+ years of previous employment. I was/am lucky, but I also paid my dues. I’d like to think that anyone who forms key relationships and proves themselves hard-working could do the same.
I hope this is useful: for those who question if there’s any benefit to blogging aside from engagement with the community and free books, and for anyone who wonders if blogging counts as professional development if you’re not interested in going into publishing. Even if you think your real world job isn’t remotely related to blogging, you could be developing the skills that will lead you to the perfect job. I’m living proof.