Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who Knows You Blog?

Sarah of GreenBean TeenQueen asked the question, "Who knows you blog?" and it got me thinking about blogging and professional development.

Lots of people know I blog. In fact, I think pretty much everyone in my personal life that I'm even somewhat close to knows I blog. My coworkers all know I blog and when I applied for the job I have now, I put my blog on my resume because I see my blog as a professional development tool.

Of course, my blog's a social tool as well and I've so enjoyed being a part of this wonderful community. But I think that with the growing popularity of social media tools in libraries, a well-maintained blog can be an asset in the job hunt. Here's why:

1. It shows off your social media/technical skills. Facebook and Twitter are hot. The better your skills with social media, computers, web design, etc., the more marketable you are. Social media's not going anywhere and many libraries have yet to jump on the bandwagon. You could be the one that takes them there!

2. If you review books, it shows that you're keeping up with what's being published. Bonus points if your reviews show that you can summarize a plot (good for booktalking) and you know what audience to which you'd recommend a book (good for readers' advisory).

3. Think of your blog as an extended version of your cover letter. The cover letter aims to explain why you should get a job in one page (or less). Your blog can be a place to show off the successful programs that you've done (or show what you've learned from unsuccessful programs). If you're still in school, your blog could be a place to share some of the projects you've worked on or programs you'd like to try someday. Or maybe you've read some articles on which you have opinions or you want to discuss what you're learning in your classes.

There are definitely a few things to watch out for if you're going to put your blog on your resume.

MAKE SURE YOUR WRITING IS PROFESSIONAL. I don't mean that it's of professional quality (though keeping a blog is a great way to practice your writing). I mean that you're not ranting about your unfair professor, posting pictures of the wild librarian party you went to last weekend, or posting private information about patrons. Remember that your Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media outlets you have should also be professional. If, in a fit of despair, you Tweet about how this is the worst day of your life, know that your boss (or potential boss) may be reading!

Your writing and the design of your blog are going to reflect on you. Make sure to proofread your posts before uploading them and make sure your blog layout is easy to read. Think about what you want potential employers to get out of reading your blog. Do you want them to see the programs you've done? Are you particularly proud of a certain post? Create links to these posts or sections and put them in an obvious spot near the top of your page. You can always rearrange after you get the job, but make sure the content you want them to find is in a place where they'll easily find it.

Be aware, also, that your potential new boss may not have the same feelings about blogs as you do. He or she may object to you posting something identifying which library you work at, for example. He or she may even ask you to take down certain posts. And would a library administrator reject you for a job because you blog? I don't know, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility completely. You'll have to decide what you're willing to compromise on and what risks you're willing to take. 

Of course, "going public" with your blog isn't for everyone. Should you include your blog on your resume? Well, that's up to you.

What do you think? Anyone else include your blog on your resume?