Most recruiters will google you, so it’s worth polishing your profile in a blog. You could even end up with a job in the industry of your dreams
Eamon Fitzgerald felt he was becoming a corporate slave. When he realised his work at Accenture was stressing him out, he decided to pursue his real passion by blogging about wine.
The result, My Grape Escape, landed FitzGerald not one but two jobs in the industry of his dreams.
FitzGerald, a 27-year-old from Dalkey, carved out a new career for himself by applying for a job at Decanter magazine and drawing its attention to his blog.
“Once they saw that I ‘got’ social media and that I clearly had a passion and drive for wine, as evidenced by my blog, they offered me the job,” said FitzGerald, who moved to London last year.
Then, while representing Ireland at the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Vienna in 2010, FitzGerald bumped into Rowan Gormley, the owner of Norwich-based Naked Wines. Gormley said he liked the Dubliner’s blog and, two months later, persuaded him to join the company. FitzGerald now works as a wine development manager, scouring the globe for the right winemakers to supply Naked Wines.
“I saw blogging as a way to learn more about wine, to make contacts, and to escape from the stressful world of IT consultancy,” he said. “Wine is such a complex subject, discussed at length by bores, so I wanted to communicate it in a fun and jargon-free way.”
Not many bloggers go on to achieve the fame of Perez Hilton, the razor-edged Hollywood gossip columnist, but blogs do provide the platform to showcase your talents properly and interests to potential employers, according to Jonathan Campbell, the chief executive of Social Talent, which trains recruitment agencies on how to find candidates through social media.
“Blogging isn’t for everyone but it is a nice way to put your digital footprint out there,” Campbell said. “It adds more depth to your CV by showing who you are, the way you think, and what interests you.
“These days, hiring managers and recruiters will google your name anyway to see what’s out there. So instead of them focusing on pictures from your days at secondary school on Facebook, you can create positive noise with a blog that is polished and geared towards how you want people to see you.”
Some bloggers do not even have to apply for work — they are approached directly. Despite not having any training as a chef, Donal Skehan was asked by an Irish publishing house to write a cookbook after his food blog, Good Mood Food, caught its attention. Kitchen Hero, his follow-up book, was accompanied by a cooking show on RTE, and the 25-year-old has emerged as a celebrity cook.
Aisling Keenan, 23, was offered a job as staff editor of U Magazine after writing a magazine-style blog. It was spotted by an editor at a national newspaper, who gave her a weekly beauty column, which helped Keenan when she applied for the U job.
“I had been doing freelance writing work and it dried up, so I set up a blog on WordPress for free, just to keep myself in the habit of writing,” she said. “At first, the only readers I had were my parents. But I learned to get more involved in the blogging community, by leaving comments on blogs, for example. At its height, I was getting 9,000 views a month.”
With more than 175m public blogs worldwide, many of which are poorly written and designed, attracting attention for a blog is not an easy task.
“To stand out, you have to have a strong voice and keep your content engaging,” Keenan said. “You’ll get return readers and they’ll post links to your blog on Facebook or Twitter.
“The key to a great blog is not doing it to get followers or recognition. You should be doing it because you’re passionate about what you’re writing about, not to get money or freebies.”
The most popular platforms include Google’s Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, TypePad and Posterous Spaces. All of these platforms encourage users to complete a profile or biographical section with a location field. That is all a recruiter needs to find candidates online, Campbell says.
“There is a blog platform for everyone, depending on your technical skills,” he said. “With Posterous, you just have to email your text to an email address and it creates your blogpost for you. Setting up a WordPress blog requires more advanced knowledge of different styles and layouts.
“Your LinkedIn profile allows you to have links to three different sites; your blog should be one of those. On Twitter, when you tweet something longer than 140 characters, you should provide a link to your blog.”
Sinead Smith, 21, was hired as a social media manager by a recruitment agency straight after college after setting up Viva Adonis, a beauty and lifestyle blog, with her friend, Dee Foley. She found the job advertised on Twitter and used her blog’s success to show how well she could handle social networking.
Both Smith and Campbell warn that poor writing and spelling errors on a blog can put off a potential employer.
“My new boss was impressed by how well I could write and communicate,” Smith said. “Writing sets the men apart from the boys. People put posts up that they haven’t bothered to spell-check — even though we were all taught from primary school to go back over our work.
“So many bemoan the lack of followers they get and they don’t know that this is why. In terms of standing out, it’s the quality of the content, rather than the quantity of posts and pictures, that matter.”
Make enough of an impact with your blog to start paying the bills and you may find you are the one doing the hiring. Last year, Hilton was offered $20m (€14.5m) for his website PerezHilton.com after it became one of the most influential blogs on the web.
Bob Flavin, who last year set up a car review site called Thenextgear.com, hopes to be making a living out of it in the next couple of months. After working in the motor trade, the 39-year-old was made redundant in 2008 from his job managing the import and wholesale of designer bathroom parts to high-end hotels.
When he received no response from the 400 job applications he sent out, the car enthusiast decided to focus on his blog. It features videos of Flavin test-driving cars while reviewing them Top Gear-style, describing one model as “the Starship Enterprise of Fords”. The videos have attracted 400,000 views on YouTube.
“Cars had always been a background passion for me since I was a child,” he said. “When I was made redundant and found there was no more work, I thought I’d start a blog as a pastime. The car manufacturers started taking notice of it and asked me to test cars. It’s really taken off.
“The car industry has changed massively; car manufacturers rely on websites to draw customers to a dealer. That’s where my business comes in. Independent blogs are very important to it.
“I’m looking for investors and for sponsors of the videos. I think I’ll be able to make a wage from it in a couple of months.”