Five Things I Believe About Blogs as a Career Tool

Everyone, regardless of profession, should be using a blog to record their employment experience. Resumes dumb down years of experience to one page, failing to capture or oversimplifying the whole story.  A blog that records, semi-regularly if not daily, your thoughts on your job experience, initiatives you've taken, self assessment compared to goals of what you think your ideal performance should be, and potential mistakes and what you've learned from them would go so much further to constructing a complete picture of what you bring to the table.  Blogs are a great record of your demonstrated ability to think strategically and to communicate with written word--two of the most important attributes that employment candidates need in today's sales and service focused economy.  There will be a time when blogs are almost as commonplace as resumes and employers check the blogs of the top resumes screened out as an interim step between the resume drop and the interview invite. 

Blogs are much better tools than social networking sites to connect to others in your industry.
  Social networking sites are focused on the connections themselves, which is as forced and feels just as unnatural as networking for the sake of networking.  No one wants to be seen as the person "working the crowd" to see whose cards he or she can get or how many they can dish out.  Network development should be an incidental outgrowth of sharing of interests and connections should be earned by impressing others with your ability to bring something interesting to the table.  Blogs allow people to demonstrate, before you make a connection, how insightful you can be about your field of interest.  A great comment on the blog of someone else who is established as a thought leader may drive them to comment about your ideas, as well as drive traffic to your own blog and give you the chance to earn the respect and credibility of people in a great network.  You can get tapped into a group by the sharing of ideas, as opposed to feeling like you are walking around with "hat in hand" when you are pinging strangers for connections on a social networking site. 

Blogging helps you become a more insightful worker.  Anyone who has written a book will tell you that the process of writing turns parts of your mind on that pay more attention, pick out insights, and develop theories about the subject you are focusing on.  Your "mind's eye" looks for things to write about and attempts to come up with interesting things to write about.  Plus, you find yourself striving to be consistent in what you think and write, because putting all your thoughts "on paper" challenges you to match them all up in some kind of unified pattern.  You can't write one thing here and contradict yourself later.  The same thing happens to people who start taking up photography.  Whereas you might have missed lots of interesting visuals in your world before, part of your mind is now on the lookout for things that might make for an interesting photo, making you more observant. 

Blogging can be a positive outlet for people who are dissatisfied by their jobs or "between jobs."  A professional blog can be a great way to create something that keeps you thoughtfully engaged in your career in the face of a bad employment experience.  Blogging might help you seek out ways to make your job more interesting or help connect you to people who are undergoing the same frustrations.  Written in a careful and positive way, it can also turn into a great discussion of suggestions you've made to improve your situation or the systematic things about your position that make it difficult and how employers might examine their structure to improve things.  (Of course, you don't want your professional blog to be a long list of complaints about your company or boss that might reflect poorly on you or get you fired).   When you are not working, a record of thoughtful discussion of research is a better and more impressive use of your down time than not having anything to show for it except unsuccessful job searching. 

Blogs need better ways of searching the "About" page.
  Standardized fields like industry, college, years of experience, areas of interest, etc. should be tagged in a way that allows me to pick out, for example, all of the Fordham graduates blogging in the investment field.  This is incredibly easy to do and it would go a long way to making blogs more functional social networking sites as well as make it much easier for new blog readers to quickly identify who they would like to start reading.