Becoming a blogger: Why YOU should document your placement year
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Becoming a blogger is all the rage and it’s easy to see why. Depending on the chosen field, bloggers are considered influencers, thought leaders, experts or just generally interesting and inspiring.
You can write about any industry, any experience. For example, your travels, what you’ve learned, who you’ve learned from, what you’ve watched or read, as well as your thoughts on the industry, what works, what doesn’t… The list is endless.
In terms of what it takes to get into blogging, there are no rules. It does take a bit of courage to put yourself out there in the public domain, but it’s hugely rewarding and surprisingly accessible; there are no qualifications needed!
You don’t need to be a website designer, or even be a particularly good writer! It’s more about personal style, as opposed to how qualified you are to write in the first place: i.e. what you have to say and how you choose to express yourself.
So, why is documenting your placement year such a good idea?
There are many benefits to blogging about your placement year. Here's a simple list:
- It can make you infinitely more employable
- It can help amplify your career progression
- It can boost professional and personal development
- It can widen your professional network
- It will help develop your own 'personal brand'
- Others can benefit from your experience
I know what you’re thinking. How can blogging achieve all this? Well…
Getting your foot in the door
Apparently, as many as 80% of employers Google the names of prospective employees before asking them to attend an interview.
That might sound a bit scary, but imagine how impressed they'll be when they find your professional blog full of opinion, insight, and experience. Therefore, starting a blog will instantly increase your chances of an interview.
With the above in mind, make sure your blog is easily found. Do a little research into how to appear on Google (this is called “SEO”).
You can increase the chance of appearing in Google by simply calling your site your own name. For instance, “JoeBloggs.com” or “JoeBloggsBlogsAboutBlogs.com”. Also, include a link to your blog in your CV, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles if you have them.
Like a portfolio, writing about your experiences on placement or as an intern allows you to showcase your proudest achievements. Meanwhile demonstrating:
- Commitment to your personal development
- That you care about your career
- Eagerness to learn and/or consider yourself knowledgeable
- Willingness to put yourself out there
Above all, it tells a hiring manager, “this is someone who is willing to get off their backside and do something”.
When it comes to interviews, you’re bound to be asked about “a time you solved a problem” or “went above and beyond” in a previous role (they’re a bit cliché for a reason).
If you’re keeping a journal, you’ll have loads of stories to choose from and because you’ve already documented them, you’ll have no difficulty articulating the story like a boss.
Basic competencies required to land yourself a great job
According to a recent survey by FordeCloud, a common complaint made by employers is that applicants lack skills or experience. 44% to be exact. This point aligns neatly to a survey conducted by PayScale which claims that 44% of managers feel writing proficiency is lacking amongst graduates.
Nearly all professionals write constantly in their roles in one form or another, be it emails, reports, proposals, or otherwise. Improving your written communication skills is essential and should never be overlooked.
Writing about your placement year will showcase and improve your writing, both of which are so important in terms of your professional development and career progression. If grammar’s not your strong point, don’t worry. With excellent tools like Grammarly readily available online, there's no stopping you.
Attitude: more important than skills
A good recruiting manager, especially one hiring graduates, will know the following rule:
"Hire for attitude, train for skill"
Of course, anyone can say they have a good attitude and a hiring manager knows this. Actions speak louder than words and there aren’t many better ways to demonstrate having a positive attitude than documenting your placement year or internship.
Writing in the public domain forces you to put yourself in your reader's shoes. Before you know it, you're assessing your situations objectively, from someone else’s point of view. That sense of perspective will help you learn and develop at an accelerated rate.
Whether you’ve had a good day or not, writing about your experience will help you distill your thoughts into something useful and productive.
Networking & building a “Personal Brand”
We all have an personal brand to an extent. It’s essentially the collective perception of “you” and it can be very powerful, especially in a professional setting. Likewise, you can build a personal brand for yourself online through your writing, through guest posting on industry publications and through social media.
There is no better time to start than at the beginning of your career for all the reasons above. As your career develops, you will be able to transcend into thought leadership, positioning yourself as a trusted expert.
Furthermore, online writing is very social. Over the course of time, you will develop a strong professional network. This will open many doors and could lead to some really exciting career opportunities.
So, how do you get started?
The place to start is to decide on what platform to blog on. Boring I know, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.
For a quicker-start, you can use a simple hosted service like WordPress.com, or Blogger. Just sign-up and follow the instructions. You can get going in next to no time, however, they’re a bit limited and you won’t own the URL (something that matters more at a later date).
If you’re feeling a little more ambitious (but only a little!) check out Squarespace, which is really growing in popularity.
The king of the blogs is still self-hosted WordPress. If you’re willing to put a few extra hours in, it’s worth it because it’s more professional and you’ll learn tons from the process. There’s loads of support and guides online so it’s not that hard to pick up (I was able to do it after some research and a few evenings).
You’ll have to buy a domain name which is pretty easy and affordable (depending on the URL you want). Then get hosting from a company such as TSO Host who do a ‘one-click’ WordPress install that makes life much easier.
Also, I recommend getting a decent theme from ThemeForest (paid or free) which will help in terms of getting the design you want for minimal effort.
Not ready (or too eager) to build your own site?
That’s ok. Try reaching out to existing sites and asking if they will let you write for them. A great place to start might be a student magazine or newsletter.
Alternatively, see if a few friends are willing to get involved. You can share the costs and all chip in to build something together. The more hands on deck, the quicker the site will gain momentum.
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