BY JEANINE "J.T." O'DONNELL AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: Lately, I've heard people talking about blogging as a way to advance their careers. They can't be serious, can they? --Andrew
DALE: I know how you feel, Andrew. When blogs were new, I eagerly began visiting them, but soon decided they were written by people with too much time on their hands for readers with not enough to do. But then, one of my favorite business/motivation writers, Steve Chandler, started one that was a joy (it's at stevechandler.com), and that led me to reconsider, and to eventually conclude that, like the Internet itself, blogs have evolved toward mainstream usefulness.
J.T.: It took awhile for most businesses and media outlets to understand how the Internet and blogs could complement traditional media. For example, Dale and I have a blog (www.jtanddale.com) where we are able to provide all sorts of additional advice and information that can't be included in our weekly Q&A's. You can even subscribe, for free, to have all the new content e-mailed to you. That's true with most of the useful blogs. Speaking of which, you can easily find lots of options by checking out www.alltop.com, a new site by Guy Kawasaki and his partners.
DALE: If that name sounds familiar, that's because he helped develop the Macintosh computer and has written several books.
J.T.: Exactly. His new site summarizes top blogs, by category, including career topics. He came up with a cutting-edge visual format to make it easy for visitors to skim each blog's content and identify posts that are of personal interest.
DALE: So, Andrew, that's the first way that blogs can help advance a career -- providing advice.
J.T.: And to lead up to the second way they help, let me point out that many hiring managers now Google potential employees to learn more about them. You've probably heard about people cleaning up their MySpace and Facebook accounts so employers don't draw unwanted conclusions. Nowadays, however, job seekers are taking it a step further by creating search results that provide professional credibility. They do this via blogging.
DALE: In your case, Andrew, you'd choose a subject where you'd like to establish your reputation/expertise. Say you're in market research and you have lots of ideas on how to best present ideas to management. If you start a blog on the topic, right then -- the day you start -- you've declared yourself an expert, which means you can pitch yourself to give presentations at association meetings or submit articles to the professional newsletters.
J.T.: If you're not ready to commit to writing a blog, start by posting comments on others' blogs. By offering well-articulated commentary via a post and listing your real name, employers will have links come up in their searches. When you start posting, there are two rules to follow: No. 1. Don't be negative, condescending or hostile. Hiring managers will look at how you choose to write in the public forum of a blog as a good indicator as to how you'll act within their organization. No. 2. Don't be self-serving. If you come across as just trying to do some personal marketing, you'll be seen as an opportunist. Instead, treat it as a real opportunity, and you'll see it advance your career.
Dear J.T. & Dale: Almost all interviewers will ask during an interview, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" Is there a good answer to such a bad question? -- Trish
J.T.: Who can honestly say where they want to be in five years?
DALE: Wait -- you can't start getting judgmental about the interviewer's questions, or the negativity will seep into your response. You have to treat every question as a great question.
J.T.: Doing that, I'd say something like ... "Experience tells me how quickly things change these days, and I'm sure that will include this company and this job. However, I can say that by working for your firm, I hope to become the best at _____ by building my skills in _____."
DALE: That tells the manager you're committed to personal development and that you embrace change. A good, helpful answer ... so maybe it was a good question, after all.
* * *
Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of the consulting firm jtodonnell.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.
(c) 2008 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.