Do you know what skills and abilities employers want from graduates?  Awareness of the business.  Communication.  Problem-solving.   Initiative.  Team work.  Professionalism.

Everyone can say that they have what it takes.  But without the evidence, the words in your CV are just—words.  To be convincing, you have to prove your skills.  How? Start a blog.

It’s a tough job search game out there…

We’ve all been there.

You earn your university degree and think your degree certificate is an ‘I Owe You’ to be exchanged for a decent graduate job.  That’s partly how a degree is sold to you, right?

Unfortunately, the reality can be quite different.

Not least since the 2008 global financial crisis, university graduates have been faced with a very tough job market.  On the whole, millennials have suffered much higher unemployment rates than the general population.  At the same time, the number of university graduates worldwide is increasing.

This means that as a graduate applying for a job today, you’re having to overcome the challenges brought by struggling economies—and fierce competition.

The truth is, no employer cares about your degree as much as you do…

One mistake that I see graduates make in their CVs is they focus too much on their degrees and too little on the actual skills and experience employers want.

Of course, your degree is important:  Your application may go straight into the no pile if you don’t have a degree, or don’t have the right degree.  But what employers are most interested in is this:

Can you do the job and are you the right person to do it?

If you have relevant work experience, great!  Your chances of getting an interview go from almost nill to almost guaranteed.

But what if you don’t have work experience?  Or you do, but so do the other candidates?

How can you stand out and attract a hiring manager’s attention to get an interview?  At the interview, how can you show your skills and knowledge, and prove that you’re motivated and interested?

Start a blog. 

It could be the smartest career planning move you’ll make in 2017.

Here’s why.

If you do it right, blogging can help your graduate career in at least 6 ways.

#1 Blogging helps you prove your skills.

Remember this:

Good communication is one of the top skills employers say they want from graduates.

This is why far too many job applicants say in their CV “I have excellent communication skills”.

Employers read this and think, “I’ve read this before!  Anyway, where is the evidence?”

What you don’t want to do in your CV is sound like everyone else.  Otherwise you won’t be noticed and you’ll get rejected before you’re given a chance to prove yourself.

You’ll also don’t want to say you have skills unless you can give examples to back them back.

You can avoid both mistakes by introducing your blog in your CV to let your articles speak for your abilities.  This is the best way to prove that you have the skills that the employer is after.

#2 Blogging helps you improve your skills.

Blogging may not be for you if you really don’t like the idea of sitting at a desk for an hour or two and putting your thoughts down on paper.

But if you are hesitating because you’re worried that you can’t write like a pro, I can assure you:  No blogger starts out as a pro, they become one.

Speaking from my own experience, if I look back at the very first blog post that I wrote exactly two years ago, my style was more stiff and less personal—in all honesty, I think I was trying to hide my voice.  And there were important writing rules that I hadn’t completely mastered yet.

We become good at something not by avoiding it.  But by doing it, over and over again.  That’s how we become experts.

So, if you want to become a pro blogger, start a blog.  With every article that you write, you’ll see great improvements and will get closer to your aim.

#3  Use your blog posts to express your career ambitions.  

If you match your blog topic to the career field that you want to enter, you can show what you know, what you’re capable of and what you’re really interested in.

Again, you don’t have to be the expert—yet—and you certainly don’t have to have all the answers.

What you’re doing is you’re positioning yourself as someone who cares and who is aiming to be a future expert and thought leader in the field.

Also, and this is really important, a very positive side effect of blogging about your niche is you will learn more about it and will develop more expertise.  You also find out which areas you enjoy the most or are better in. This can help you specialise, which in turn can be an advantage when you apply for a job.

#4 Your blog.  Your voice. Your personality.  Your brand.

Employers want to hire people who will fit into their organisation.

But how can they tell if you are the right match?

Before the interview, only your online presence can give them an idea.

But you have to shape your online identity and the impression that potential employers will get about you.

I was listening to an interview with an HR expert a few weeks back.  His view was that it is worse for job candidates not to have an online presence, than to have one that’s not perfect.

Use your blog, together with other online channels, to show your best qualities.

Present yourself as the professional, analytical, smart, creative, personable, funny, energetic, problem-solving talent that you are.  Prove that you don’t hesitate to put yourself out there and that you’re someone who is keen to learn and to develop.

#5  Your blog activity will help you build your professional network. 

People like to connect with people who have similar ideas and interests.

Writing a blog, you can attract the attention of professionals who work in the field you want to enter.

So, while other job candidates may resort to sending unsolicited emails or making cold calls (that are never answered or returned), you may find that people start asking you to connect with them. Also, when you do send a connection request to someone, they’re more likely to accept it—because they can see your activity online and that you have something valuable to contribute.

Needless to say that the networks and connections that you create may lead to career opportunities.

For example, someone who knows your profile could send you details of a job that they think you should apply for.  Or, if you already interact with staff from a company and you apply for a job there, you’re probably more likely to get an interview.

#6 Your blog can help hiring managers overcome their doubts. 

A hiring manager looking at your CV or interviewing you, may have doubts or objections as to whether you’re suitable.  Your job is to help him or her overcome their concerns by addressing them.

Your blog can help you do just that.

Let’s imagine this conversation, either between you and the hiring manager, or parts of it going on in the hiring manager’s head (normal, not crazy).

“You say you’re an excellent communicator—can you give me some examples?”

Please take a look at these blog posts I’ve written. To me, it’s very important that I communicate my ideas as clearly and succinctly as possible.  I regularly receive comments and feedback from my readers who tell me they enjoy my style and find my posts helpful.  I also invite comments and suggestions on how I can improve further.  If you have read my posts and have any feedback, I would very much value hearing it.

“How do I know that you’re really interested in this business sector?”

I’ve been blogging about this niche for a year.  You can see my articles, here, here and here.  It’s been great to write about these topics.  Not only because I could spend my time working on something that I’m very interested in.  But also, I’ve been able to learn more about the field. Let me give you a specific example about something that I’ve learned recently…

“Can you give me an example of a problem you’ve solved?”

Whenever I write a blog post, my starting point is: Who will read this article and why should they care?  What problem will it help them solve?  I think about a very specific question my blog readers might have.  I then do my research to find out about the relevant information.  Once I have a good overview, I write my post with specific actions they can take.

“Can you give me an example of your ability to work in a team?”

Through my blog, I collaborate with a other bloggers.  We really work together as a community.  We exchange ideas, give feedback to one another, consider different points of view and promote each other’s work.  It’s been great to collaborate in this way as I’ve learned a lot, and I am pleased I am able to help others with my insights and tips.  I’ve also learned to reflect on the feedback I receive on my work, and to give feedback in a way that’s helpful and not hurtful.

“Can you give me an example of your ability to lead and convince others?”

Every time I publish a blog post, I have to get readers to take action, for example to comment, like or share. I’ve learned that you can only convince others to do something if they benefit from it as well.     So, you have to be able to involve people and to inspire them.  I do this is by inviting questions or suggestions at the end of each post.  Also, it’s really important that you show you appreciate your audience. This is why every time someone comment on or shares one of my posts, I write back to say thank you.  This has turned some of my followers into real fans.

Are you sold on the blogging idea?

Want to get started?

If this post has piqued your interest and you want to start your own blog, there is great news:  Starting a blog is easy.

Anyone with a computer and an internet connection can start one.  Cost? Zero. There are a number of free blogging sites out there, like Blogger.com, Tumblr, WordPress.com.  The only capital you have to put in is some energy, ideas, creativity and time.

So don’t wait.  Because the employers won’t.

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