Here’s how to use blogging to build a credible voice in the field where you want to work.
If you want to use blogging to get ahead and reach your goals, check out BrazenU’s newest bootcamp, Secrets of an A-List Blogger. This exciting one-week online course will give participants inside access to top blogger, bestselling author and successful entrepreneur Penelope Trunk. Whitney Parker, the author of this post, is co-hosting the event.
Like many of you, I left my liberal arts education with the daunting challenge of finding a job relevant to my degree in international affairs. Among my college friends, I counted French majors, history buffs, women’s studies experts, urban designers, foreign policy gurus and even philosophers. Growing up in a rural area, I was in the wrong region to pursue my interest in international affairs, and in a field that had few entry-level openings for new college graduates.
My close college friends were not in much better shape; even in 2003 there were relatively few positions open for people who had just graduated. So like my friends, and like many recent graduates today, I relocated to a bigger city, took jobs that were slightly less than ideal just to get that “foot in the door” and actively sought out positions that would give me the expertise that I always wanted.
Looking back more than eight years later, I wish someone would have told me that I didn’t need to wait for a job or title or promotion to become an expert. I didn’t need to get a job as a research analyst to write about international affairs, nor did I need to work at a prestigious government agency to start making a difference.
The secret I wish I would have known then is that blogging can accelerate your career in whatever direction you want to take it. And you can start today, whether you’re still in school or schlepping lattes at Starbucks while applying for your dream job.
I’ve seen the impact blogging can have for young professionals first hand. In the past eight years, I’ve held management roles in Washington, D.C., and New York City for various public and private sector employers, and I’ve seen people get hired for having a great blog. I’ve seen friends make successful career pivots using blogging as the basis for change. I’ve met dozens of people who have successfully leveraged a blog to change careers.
Here’s how they do it
If you are “underemployed” — stuck in a job that doesn’t really challenge you — you can probably spare an hour a day to think about the issues you really care about, whether that’s urban planning, photography, French literature or the latest fashion trends. It doesn’t take any high-tech knowledge to start a blog on WordPress.com or Tumblr. If you get in the habit of writing once, twice or three times a week, that’s enough to start building a credible voice in the field you want to enter.
Pretend you already have the job you really want. What would you be expected to comment on in an expert fashion? Try to develop that expertise through research and writing in your spare time.
When your dream job finally opens up, you’ll have already taken the initiative to develop a new substantive expertise. You’ll have a relevant set of thoughtful articles to take to a job interview. And as an added benefit, you’ll have gained a tangible online presence and technical skills that are highly sought after in today’s economy.
So don’t wait for your next job to get inspired. Embrace your passion now and start building expertise through blogging. That could be just what you need to position yourself for your dream job.
Whitney Parker is vice president for user experience at Brazen Careerist and co-host of an upcoming bootcamp on blogging: Secrets of an A-List Blogger: A Week with Penelope Trunk. If you’re ready to learn how you can make the most of blogging for your personal or professional career, sign up here.