Will your blog get you screened out?

In the best job search guide online, I recommend you blog to show your talent and passion. But, that’s not the full story – I’ve screened out more job-seekers than I’ve hired because of their blogs.

To make sure no one ends up unemployed because they followed my advice, here’s a guide to making sure your blog doesn’t kill your chances of getting hired.

First, let’s look at the blogs that have killed my interest in a candidate – they’ve included a job-seeker:

  • promoting himself as an online marketing ‘get rich quick’ expert
  • with pictures of himself firing his automatic assault rifle
  • talking enthusiastically about his binge drinking
  • and a few with tragically ugly websites

There’s a lot of common sense advice to give about blogging which I’ll dish out before moving on to my favorite topic – the easiest mistakes talented writers are prone to make.

Don’t:

  • badmouth your previous bosses or employers
  • talk about religion, politics, or sex
  • post unflattering photos
  • babble – keep your posts short and sweet

Do:

  • post consistently and keep it up-to-date (once a month at least if job searching)
  • include your resume in an attractive format (word or pdf)
  • share your personal life (family, friends, pets, interests and hobbies) but keep it PG or G rated
  • be genuine – let your readers hear your thoughts
  • be positive – you can bleed some, but always find the silver lining
  • talk about what’s happening in your profession
  • keep an updated blogroll to show who you follow and read

Now, for the mistakes most easily made by talented people! That’s the presentation – your book cover. You can write great, meaty, wise, or brilliant content, but if the cover of your book is terribly dull, ugly or error riddled – many recruiters will write you off at the cover. Aim to fascinate with your blog‘s elegance. Give yourself some mystique!

First, your grammar and your spelling should be nearly perfect. Use spellchecker! Beg your friends and family to proofread you. Here’s why – easily preventable errors tell your future boss that you’ll need babysitting.

Second, you need a pretty dress. Ugly does not sell. If you’ve been told you don’t have much fashion sense, that’s a sure sign you’ll need help making sure your blog isn’t ugly. Sure, you can find a few examples of ugly blogs written by rich and famous authors like Mark Cuban. Don’t let those throw you off the trail.

Look at these fashion makeovers! Are those really the same women? By the way, if you don’t see much difference in the before and after pictures, you need to let someone else make your blog design decisions. Let me show you a few examples of good/great blog design, the simple and clean look you want for a professional blog:

If you’re using WordPress, here are some minimalist theme choices that will do the job:

So what does your blog look like?

Email This Page
Print Friendly
0saves
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

  • Katie

    This article has definitely opened my eyes to the importance of blog presentation. There’s always that factor of relative anonymity on the internet that can act as a double-edged sword. On one hand, bloggers can freely post their unfiltered thoughts with very few people knowing who they actually are. However, on the other hand, anyone can see that blog, including potential employers. While it’s important to put part of yourself into your blog, you don’t want to put in too much in, lest you start turning yourself off to those people who want to hire you.
    As someone who’s just getting started in the job market and loves blogging, this is incredibly helpful advice, and I will definitely consider these points in the future.

  • Alexa

    I think this article is beautifully stated. It is concise; however, there are more issues with what people post
    on their blobs than just the ones listed here. I believe it is important to maintain a professional appearance because when a company hires you, you are now a representative of that company. Therefore, if you do not present yourself well, than the company you work for may be affected by your actions. Many high schoolers and college students fail to realize that their actions have an impact on their future. Especially when discussing the internet. Posting about how you skip all of your classes looks incredibly irresponsible to employers. My dad, since the first day I joined a social media site, has warned me that all of my actions have consequences. At first I was unaware of how crucial it was to watch what I post, but now, especially with witnessing the unprofessional posts of others, I am fully aware. Every child should be taught this lesson.

  • Wes Albright

    I loved the no bull information. It is refreshing to hear a professional speak in common straight forward terms. Do not candy coat things. That doesn’t help any one in the end. This is very similar to what I had been taught as an interviewer but much more in depth: Can they do the job, will they do the job, and will they fit in? Of course this is much more detailed. This was an enjoyable read. I have already bookmarked a couple of the other sites to look at. Thanks so much.

    Wes

  • Maria Sans

    I thought that this was a valuable lesson for someone like me just starting out in the job market. I am starting college in fall and really never considered how my “blogging” could affect my future. I will consider the sites that I choose to blog on more carefully and really review and think about what I am writing. Social media is a big part of my life and and don’t think that I would stop completely, but I will make sure that I consider who might view my ramblings one day.

  • @huttondl

    All sound advice… One question though… where would one start?

  • http://twitter.com/christopherjanb Christopher Benitez

    Compelling article, Eric! You certainly focused on the blog being a “book cover.” I wouldn’t say I disagree, but a blog can work even if it is designed sufficiently. I guess your blog should depend on your career path. If you’re a designer, then your blog should exhibit the best design practices for you to make an impact in the job market. For people with non-design related careers, I think they get a free pass for not having the greatest “book cover” out there. Just my two cents :)

  • Colby Cooper

    Eric,

    The title of this blog summarizes my thoughts during a month-long backpacking trip I journeyed on throughout Europe. At first, I debated whether or not to blog about the trip, because I questioned the need to express my thoughts externally via social media. I wondered too if my own babbling would expose the ‘real me’ that my social media friends aren’t guaranteed to experience daily. Without doubts or concerns, I initiated my Tumblr account via Facebook and began with Day 1 of a 30 day voyage throughout Spain, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. I committed to keeping the spelling of my blog without errors to be correlated with my business degree skills I am obtaining at the University of Kansas. I have gone on with my blog since, adding daily scipts about my college social experiences, my academic pursuits, and my health and fitness mentality. Thank you for the tips that will encourage an improvement in my own blog!

    Colby Cooper

    • http://www.internetinc.com/ Eric Shannon

      Bravo Colby!

  • http://www.muschamp.ca/ Muskie

    First of all, thanks for taking the time to talk to me and for writing your job search guide. I tend to agree with most everything you say. I think the two biggest problems with blogging and social media in general are: how you present yourself when things are not going great and not being overly self-indulgent in your writing.

    Length, spell checking, poor grammar are symptoms of self-indulgence in many cases. Knowing your audience is important but so is knowing your medium. You have to self edit and write against your personal preferences sometimes in order to communicate effectively with your target audience in your chosen medium.

    Potentially more dangerous or damaging to your career is giving up too much of your personal privacy or even your soul. Some people may applaud you for being open or honest. They may even be facing the same challenges or illness, but employers they can be ruthless. If you’re going through a difficult time in your life or have had difficulties in the past, some employers won’t want anything to do with a potential problem. There is a reason countries forbid screening questions based on age, sex, or religion. The longer you’re online, the more you blog, the more you update Facebook, the less privacy you have and it makes it easier for employers to screen you out.

    Blogging or social media in general is definitely a double-edged sword. It can work for some people, industries, and professions, but it can also work against other people and is still not embraced by all employers and industries. How you handle yourself under adversity matters. How you treat people matters. I worry for some of the folks growing up today who’ve always had the Internet, have always had social media and haven’t learned from the mistakes of others. I dubbed this next generation, Generation Z, for ‘zero privacy’.

    I too keep trying to help people achieve their own personal goals and avoid making mistakes I’ve made. Blogging is easy, but blogging well, with a purpose is not so easy. Here are my latest top 10 tips:

    http://blog.muschamp.ca/2012/01/27/what-is-really-important-when-self-publishing-online/

    • http://www.internetinc.com/ Eric Shannon

      was a pleasure speaking with you Andrew. having been through a long illness myself, I know the challenge of blogging about personal problems. you are a great writer with sharp insight and that’s very rare. you should be able to turn that into something rewarding…

  • http://www.internetinc.com/ Eric Shannon

    hi Julia, as a job seeker, I don’t think your blog needs promoting – you just want to link to it in your cover letter and resume. As for my preference, I use WordPress and like it a lot. It has become an industry standard so I don’t think you can go wrong with it.

JustJobs.com chosen for Forbes.com top 75 websites for your career

Follow JustJobs on Twittervisit our facebook pagesubscribe with RSSFollow Me on Pinterest

Job Search

About the author

avatar

In 1997, Eric Shannon launched the first job board for bilinguals who speak English/Spanish at LatPro.com. Eric still serves as CEO of LatPro Inc., developer of JustJobs.com. He lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two girls.

Top