Yesterday I looked at the dilemma facing a blogging job hunter (ie. me). Should I put my blog on my CV?
Rhys Wynne and Rich Minx think that blogging gives you lots of skills that employers find desirable. The Devil’s Kitchen has added his thoughts here and asks if there are any more skills that anyone can think of.
I can think of plenty. Not all of these are necessarily skills that employers may be looking for. Some of the items show how I have improved as a person as well. Warning: I have removed my modesty cloak.
Here is the list.
Twenty reasons why I will put my blogs on my CV
Blogging has improved my writing skills
When I started blogging at the age of 16, my writing was awful. Over time, I have learned how to better communicate my opinions. Not all of that is just down to me becoming smarter as I get older. While I like to think that I am now a fairly good writer, I am still not a very good speaker (in fact, I may have become a worse speaker — my speaking grades were always my best in English). My recent appearance on the radio shows this.
Clearly, I have had a lot of practice at writing by now. But I have also learned from other bloggers’ bad writing. It is true that a lot of blogs are not very well written. As such, I have read a lot of bad writing. This has taught me the value of good writing. Reading bad writing teaches you how to write well much more than good writing does. So I have learned from the mistakes of others as well as my own.
It has taught me to be less narcissistic
Contrary to the stereotype of self-obsessed bloggers typing away to themselves in their LiveJournals, blogging has actually taught me to be less narcissistic. Over the years I have learned that if I write obsessively about myself, it is a massive turn-off for readers.
If you were to trawl through the archives of this blog stretching back almost five years (I do not recommend doing this), you would find plenty of terrible, self-obsessed, introspective blog posts that are unreadably embarrassing. You don’t find me writing as much about my personal life these days because these posts were almost always ignored by my readers.
This does not mean that writing about myself is a no-go area. This post, for instance, is all me me me. Writing about your personal life is necessarily bad. A lot of the time it can be really good; rewarding for both the reader and the writer. But this only happens if you have got an interesting story to tell and a deft way of telling it. I usually don’t have an interesting story to tell, and I have learned to accept this.
It has taught me to think about my audience
Related to the above point, blogging has taught me how to take others into account. Rather than using my blog as a place to let off steam, I now think to myself, “Will this be interesting to anyone else?” This is because my moody emotional rants were ignored by readers, and they usually looked embarrassing to me by the next day.
It has helped me build relationships and “network”
The blogosphere is essentially the world’s biggest social network. When I link to or leave a comment on another blog, and they do the same to my blog in return, essentially a relationship is being formed. As such, blogging has taught me how to cultivate important relationships better. (More on this below.)
It has made me become tolerant of other people’s views
While online communities are usually famous for their trolls, I think blogging has actually made me a more reasoned and civil debater. Reading blogs has also taught me much more about political ideologies and philosophy than three years of studying economics and politics at university. I now have a much better understanding and appreciation of political views that I do not agree with.
It has made me more thick-skinned
Even if I have become more civil, that doesn’t mean that others have. Anonymous trolls can say incredibly spiteful things, and even those who are not anonymous can be startlingly robust. Being the recipient of blunt comments and emails over the years has taught me how to deal with angry people when I am in the right and how to take it on the chin when I am in the wrong.
It has made me a better researcher
On a blog, if you are making a point you have to back it up with evidence for it to hold any sway. Over the years I have learned how to find what I am looking for. This might sound trivial. After all, anyone can use Google. But there is a knack to it. Plus, I have learned how to use various tools to keep track of interesting information. The number of long-lost articles that I have retrieved from my del.icio.us account is astonishing. In fact, I have done that very thing in the process of writing this post.
It has made me knowledgeable on an eclectic range of subjects
My blog covers a range of subjects. This can work against the blog, as it does not have a coherent purpose or unifying theme. But it has worked in my favour personally. Thinking about ways to blog about a day’s events or news or little random thoughts that pop into your head can get you thinking about a wide variety of topics in ways that you may otherwise not have.
It shows commitment
Despite the amazingly low barriers to entry, the blogosphere is still a tough place to thrive. Anyone who has started blogging knows this. In my first year or two of blogging, I was very close to completely giving up several times. It is a tough commitment for all kinds of reasons. Reading and responding to other blogs as well as promoting your blog are time consuming. Dealing with blogger’s block and those early days when nobody is reading can be demoralising. But I stuck at it and learned how to make blogging a routine activity.
It shows that I am good at time management
Again, blogging is difficult if you have several activities on the go at once. As my life has become busier in the past couple of years, I have also learned how to juggle activities and prioritise. If this means having to let go of the blog for a bit, then so be it.
Sadly, being busier than I used to be means that I do not blog as much as I used to. Hopefully I make up for this by going more in-depth when I do post.
I still aim to write at least a few posts per week. During busy periods of your life, it can be difficult to dedicate enough time to your blog to stop it from going dormant. Keeping this in mind has improved my time management skills.
It has improved my self-discipline
I don’t like to have draft posts sitting unpublished. If I have an idea, I want to get it out there. In essence, the deadline is now. This can mean blogging when I am not in the mood.
It shows that I can meet deadlines
This point does not apply so much to this blog, which has no strict deadlines (only deadlines in the vague sense of the two points above). But Scottish Roundup is a different matter.
At Scottish Roundup, a post is due to appear every Sunday. When it is my turn to write the roundup, I like to stick to this deadline strictly. The only way to do this is to spend Saturday night writing the post. It’s not the most fun way to spend a Saturday night. But I have a deadline to meet, so I’ll meet it.
It shows organisational skills
Admittedly, I do not write every post at Scottish Roundup. I have brought on board other regular and guest writers. This means getting in contact with people and arranging who will be writing when, as well as discussing suggestions for improvements to the website.
It shows enterprise
I can hardly take full credit for the idea of Scottish Roundup. I took inspiration from the Britblog Roundup and the Scottish Political Blogs Review. But I took the initiative to tweak those previous ideas to create a new website. I also had to work to promote the blog and encourage other bloggers to participate.
Also, it is one thing to write for a publication (be it physical, online or whatever else). But it is quite another to set up your own publication and for it to be moderately successful.
I have also learned how to make money from blogging. It is not a great deal of money, and nowhere near enough to even begin to dream of becoming a professional blogger. But it is surprising how much you can earn from doing something that you enjoy.
Attention from the mainstream media
As a direct result of this blog, I have appeared on Radio Scotland three times and this week Radio 5 Live was added to the list. (There have been a few other missed opportunities too due to me not checking my email often enough and not having reception on my phone.) This blog has also been mentioned on BBC News Online, The Guardian, Telegraph.co.uk, Slate and The Herald. (Details on the Best of page.)
It has made me learn HTML and CSS
I also had to design the theme for Scottish Roundup. I have designed several other themes and templates for my blogs over the years. The design of this page, as well as the writing on it, is all my own work.
It demonstrates computer literacy
For obvious reasons.
It has taught me about search engine optimisation
Search is mega important these days, and every company in the world wants to come at the top of relevant Google results. Over the years I have learned the various techniques that can help achieve this and I have gained a feel for the sort of things that Google likes about certain websites.
It has improved my problem-solving skills
Because when something (in the template, with a plugin, etc) goes wrong, I need to take a long hard look at it, work out what has gone wrong, why it has gone wrong and how I can fix it.
It is not all good news though. Obviously the good outweighs the bad, otherwise I wouldn’t do it. But I have to recognise the downsides.
Three reasons why I might not put my blogs on my CV
Besides the ones I wrote about in the previous post.
For me, blogging hasn’t been social
I mentioned above that blogging has helped me forge relationships. But these are all online relationships. Of all the great bloggers that I communicate with, I have not yet physically met a single one of them. The closest I have come is a few times when I was spotted by other people, but I didn’t realise until a comment was left on my blog! Also, I have never attended a blogmeet.
On the bright side, this is not the case for everyone. Otherwise, blogmeets would not exist. Perhaps this is more a reflection of my personality rather than the fact that I am a blogger. I am a natural introvert. Plus, it is surely only a matter of time before I meet another blogger.
Am I getting enough fresh air?
Okay, this is another unfair stereotype about bloggers. But I do mean this half-seriously. I mentioned above how difficult it can be to juggle various activities when you have a blog. So say you enter a busy period of your life. You have a number of extracurricular activities, but because you are busier one of them has to go.
Maybe you like going on walks, occasionally visiting the pub with your friends and reading books. You also like blogging, and you are keeping in mind that readers may desert a dormant blog. So, which of these spare-time activities will get dropped? Sadly, it is natural that other mind-expanding and important activities get squeezed because you are prioritising your blog.
It only shows how I operate on my own terms
Okay, so I can meet my own deadlines. But what about a deadline that someone else sets me? I can write about my own opinions. But would this necessarily make me good at, say, copy writing or journalism?
In essence, being a good blogger demonstrates that I am a good blogger. But does it necessarily demonstrate that I would be good at doing similar work for other people? Possibly not.
So, what do you think about all of this? Is some of it a bit pie-in-the-sky? Are there any other pros and cons of putting blogging on your CV?
I should point out that several suggestions have already been posted on my previous post on this issue.