A couple days ago, a headline in my IEEE Job Site newsletter caught my attention: How a Personal Blog Can Boost Your Career. (Being a blogger, things like that do catch my eye.) The article mentioned several ways in which a blog can help you, a couple of which I believe are more relevant for engineers than others.
Let’s start with where I disagree with the post. I am not sure that I buy into the whole “personal brand” idea, but I also take issue with one of the final comments: that your blog probably isn’t going to replace your resume. The first is a matter of opinion, and in engineering, I’m going to guess that more manager-types are going to be interested in results and not your marketing je nes sais quoi. (I could very well be wrong on this, however, which is why I’m an engineer and not an HR person.) On the second point, however, I recently found an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing how many companies, particularly in tech, are moving away from resumes and want to see your online presence instead. Hence, I do think blogging is definitely a step in the right direction. On the other hand, blogging strictly as a marketing strategy doesn’t tend to go over well, as many companies have found out and thus dropped their blogs. So keeping your blog real and not just using it to market yourself is probably a good way to keep readership.
With that out of the way, what things might be relevant for engineers? The last three points of discussion were the most relevant: knowledge advancement, relationship building, and demonstration of skill. Knowledge advancement is really what it sounds like: learning new things to make sure you sound sufficiently knowledgeable about your topic area. I can vouch for the fact that, on the rare occasion I decide to put a technically meaty post on my personal blog, I spend a lot of time learning and thinking about things in a very deep way. Relationship building is probably just a different way of saying “networking”, except you’re using an electronic signature rather than the good old-fashioned business card. Not only can you network with people who read and comment on your blog, you can also network by leaving comments on other people’s blogs. (In fact, that’s how I ‘met’ a good number of my fellow EngineerBlogs bloggers.) Finally, demonstration of skill is just that: showing off your work. However, it can also show off your communication skills, your ideas, and even your general demeanor.
My observation is that all technical bloggers seem to use their blogs for relationship building (or maybe ‘networking’). However, it seems like the academics are a bit more focused on that than many of the ‘practicing engineers’ who blog. Many of the best engineering blogs feature technical know-how.
So would you consider starting a blog to improve your employment and networking opportunities? Do you think the benefits outweigh the potential problems with blogging? If you have done so already, do you think it’s been beneficial?