The great thing about a blog is you can shape it into whatever you want it to be, from a personal website to an online journal to a professional portfolio. And when it comes to your job search, not only can you make it clear that you’re looking for work—you can also show that you’re highly qualified.
Here are a few easy tweaks you can make to your blog to increase your chances of getting hired:
1. Create pages that mirror your resume headings
Think about how your blog is structured. A monthly archive, topical categories and list of recent posts can be helpful, but there might be a better way to frame your work.
Traditional resume headings such as “Education, Experience and Awards” are a good place to start. Create pages that organize related information—not to duplicate your resume, but to expand upon it with links to presentations, multimedia and other web-based work samples.
2. Rethink your landing page
What does your home page look like? For most blogs, the entry point is the most recent post.
But if you’re a little behind in blogging or add new posts infrequently, a static landing page might be a better way to introduce your blog as a professional portfolio. This format might also make it easier to showcase your resume pages (see above).
3. Choose a professional theme
This one is easy to do, and there are hundreds of great-looking themes available through free blogging platforms like WordPress.com and Blogger. Try a few out and consider each from your prospective employer’s point of view.
Keep your industry in mind, too. A financial advisor’s theme choice might be different from one selected by an elementary school teacher. Ask a former colleague or someone working in your industry to review your choice and provide feedback.
4. Add links to your professional profiles
Are you active on LinkedIn? Do you use Twitter or Facebook in a professional way? Your blog can serve as a hub that connects all of these accounts in one central location.
List all of the places where you have an active online presence, from profiles to reading lists, and evaluate each one for inclusion. Choose only those that involve career-related posts and conversations and represent you well in a job search context. Add these as widgets or create a list of links on your About Me page.
5. Say “Hire Me.”
This is a popular component of freelancers’ blogs, but it could be a helpful addition to any job seeker’s site. Tweak your About Me page to include the fact that you’re seeking employment, or add a new page to present your pitch.
Include your contact information, your areas of expertise and the kind of work you are pursuing. SixRevisions.com offers 30 creative examples.
6. Do a little housekeeping
This one is especially important if you have an existing personal blog that you want to retool as a professional resource. Review everything from your layout and color scheme to recent posts and pictures. Do they present the image your target employers are looking for?
This is another good opportunity to seek feedback from friends and colleagues so that you can ensure your blog is sending the message you think it’s sending.
7. Include your blog URL in your email signature
And anywhere else that might be in the view of your current network (such as your business card, social networking profiles, etc.).
After you’ve taken the time to prepare your site for a job search, the next step is to get people to take a closer look. Google recommends adding the URL to your email signature as one of a variety of strategies for promoting your blog and using it to further expand your network.
What else can you do to make your blog an active part of your job search?
Your blog, like any other website, requires maintenance and upkeep. Check it periodically to make sure links are working properly and your message is still current. And, of course, keep it up to date with new posts and recent accomplishments.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a bit and explore the features and functions of your blogging platform. You may even improve your technology and design skills while you’re at it!
Melissa A. Venable, PhD, is a contributor to OnlineCollege.org, where she writes from her experience as a course designer, instructor and career advisor in higher education. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.