I’ve been contacted a few times by a few people recently wondering why their online career is not taking of as expected. Questions like, why did I not get that job offer or why am I not being invited for an interview. Or statements like, I’m just gonna give up and look for a regular office job.
One of the key reasons is that, employers have no idea if your CV is fabricated (most are), or a true reflection of your experience and ability. While, references can be contacted to establish experience it’s usually a referee that you had pre-arranged so they are going to give you a good reference anyways… So scratch that – it’s useless to me. Then there is the ability part. You need a way to showcase your ability. A portfolio is good, but what you really need to do is to establish yourself as an authority in that particular field, no matter what field you are in; this is where a blog can be helpful. It can help you build trust with a potential employer regarding your ability. So you say, I’m not an expert or authority in my field, well, if you think you are not, then you really need to get your ass in gear and make yourself one. You don’t have to be the best, you just need to be good at what you do. That’s good enough to blog about it, and good enough to get you hired. After all, that’s what employers want, they want to hire someone who is good at what they do.
Here’s what I generally do when looking for candidates on sites like oDesk or Elance.
- Eliminate everyone with less than a 4 star rating
- Eliminate anyone who clearly did not read the job description. (I usually embed a question or application instruction in the job description). You will be surprised how many people blindly apply without reading anything.
- I then eliminate candidates with poor a portfolio or dodgy(fake) looking client feedback.
- Then, if I’m lucky enough to still have applicants left, I look at who has their own website. And this is where the blog comes in to play….More on this in a bit.
- Based on what I find on their site, in combination with their portfolio, client history etc, I’ll invite one or more to an interview.
Okay, so why a blog, why not just a website with a portfolio, service description etc? A CV and portfolio etc is great, but it really does not let me get to know you or your thought processes, whereas a narrative such as a blog is a reflection of you. It’s your thoughts, your views, it’s basically the digital you. The You that I can get to know very quickly. Now I can tell you that I won’t read every post in your blog but I’d definitely browse/skim through a few posts to help me make my decision.
There aren’t a lot of people doing this at the moment. If blogging is not your core business then don’t spend all your time here. Drop in an article perhaps once a month or two. That’s totally acceptable. Keep it relevant to your sector and it will do wonders.
I can hear some out there saying, ‘Well, I’m in a profession that I can’t really blog about’… I beg to differ. I’ll challenge you…You tell me your profession and I’ll give you at least 5 topics that’s related that you can talk about. From data entry and research to graphic design and personal assistants, there is no excuse.
If money is tight and you can’t afford to, there are plenty of free sites out there that will help you get started quite easily. But, nowadays, hosting is so cheap, that I’d really recommend purchasing your own domain (which builds even more trust and adds a professional touch). WordPress is free and easy to use that I’d bet you can get started in less than 10 min. I’ve got a walkthrough that will take you through the process. You will probably have to spend a little more time than that to make it look and feel professional and trustworthy, but trust me, it is definitely worth the effort.
Let me list a few pro’s of having a website and a blog.
- You have extended visibility. Attract clients from all over the web, not just via contracting / outsourcing websites.
- It builds trust especially if you have your own domain name. I’ve nearly lost projects in the past for this simple reason.
- Tells the client that you are serious about your business.
- A blog reveals a little more about the person behind the CV. Make sure you keep topics relevant.
- A blog helps establish yourself as an authority in the field, no matter what field. It’s human nature. As soon as someone has the confidence to talk publicly, generally other people will listen and some will follow. As I said previously, you don’t have to be an expert in your field to achieve this. Actually, it’s probably best to start by assuming you are not an expert and use the blog to try and make you one.
Here are a few simple steps that you can follow to get up and running.
- Find an appropriate domain name. Here’s an article on how I do it for free. It can be a bit tough nowadays to get something appropriate and available. Once you find it, go and register it.
- Host it somewhere. I’d recommend Bluehost, but the choice is yours. There are plenty of hosts out there. If you want to use Bluehost, I’ve got a walkthrough here. Keep in mind that Bluehost will include a free domain name of your choice when you host with them.
- Install WordPress and find a theme. This pretty much a ‘one-click’ operation. So no technical skills required. There are loads of free themes which you can search for from within the Themes section in your WordPress installation. Try searching ‘Portfolio’ or ‘Business’ from the Themes section.
- Create a few pages.
- About Me – A quick intro to the real you. Add a front facing profile picture – helps build trust. And please don’t use fake pictures. It really annoys me. Keep it short.
- Services – A high level overview of the services that you offer. You may add pricing if you wish, but it depends on your sector.
- Portfolio – Showcase your work history (with client consent of course)
- CV – You can add an online version of your CV.
- Contact – You want people to be able to contact you.
- Blog – This is what will help potential employers get to know the real you. WordPress can very easily help you create a blog.
- Keep things up to date, especially if your circumstances change.
I’ve also put together a bit of info about WordPress. You will find a bit of a cheat sheet at the end of that article.
As you can see, there is not much to it. It does not have to be very fancy. I’d bet you would be done with the content in less than a few hours. It’s really low maintenance and costs next to nothing but the benefits are long term.
If you get up and running and want an opinion or some advice with regards to the look, feel and content. Drop me a not and I’ll try and take a look.