My coach told me to blog. What now?

But I’m Not a Writer

When I work with clients in my career coaching practice, I always give them “homework.” They usually eagerly accept my assignments, even those that are challenging or time-consuming.

Add descriptive wording to the jobs listed on your LinkedIn profile? Sure thing, coach!
Quantify your accomplishments in your resume? Will do, thanks for the tip!
Email three people in your desired field to ask if they’ll grab coffee? Consider it done!

OK, now post a short article on any blogging platform about a topic related to your industry or job?

*Panic-stricken, frozen look of terror*But I’m not a writer!

In the olden days (pre-2000), only Real Writers™ could get published in journals or newspapers, so only Real Writers™ felt empowered to share their opinions. The rest of us posted rants on social media or opined to our coworkers, but that was about it. Then came Blogger and WordPress, followed by a tsunami of content which included (sometimes) high-quality prose AND (more often) drivel.

A Real Writer™ uses a fountain pen and almost always has a moustache.

A Real Writer™ uses a fountain pen and almost always has a moustache.

Today your résumé tells potential employers what you’ve done, but they also want to know what you think. They want to learn your thoughts about the evolution of your industry, the innovations in your area of expertise, and your views on where the field is headed. They don’t necessarily need you to agree with them on these issues, but they want to see evidence that you’ve given them some thought.

So what should you write? You’ve got another session with your career coach coming up, but the blank screen fills you with dread! Here are some ideas.

Then vs. Now reflection

Think about where your industry was 10 years ago, 5 years ago, and 1 year ago. What has changed? Do the changes affect how you approach your job? Do you think there will be more transition in the future? What do you see looking down the road ten, even twenty years from now?

Pro vs. Con debate

Name any industry and there is at least one heated debate that has continued for years. When I worked in the environmental conservation field, it was “strict protection” versus “sustainable use,” with lively arguments made on both sides. In each industry you can find a similar topic to weigh in on, and these posts are often enjoyable to read and to write.

Advice to your younger self

“If I knew then what I know now…” These posts are best when accompanied by self-deprecating humor. “If I had known my first blog would only be interesting enough to warrant 7 posts, I wouldn’t have spent so much time on it.” (Yes, I did indeed write a short-lived blog about my dog. It was drivel.) The danger with this format is coming off as a know-it-all, so be sure to keep some humility about you and express appreciation for those who have helped you along the way.

Roundup posts

I am an avid reader of roundup posts, where someone who took the time to read several articles on a topic is generous enough to share their impressions, along with links to the original posts or resources mentioned. This type of post is a terrific way to acknowledge leaders in your field, especially if you tag them when you share the post on social media.

Thoughtful Rant

Yes, it’s a good idea to use your blog to express a passionate opinion, as long as you can support your views and are willing to engage in conversation about them. Before you hit ‘Post’ make sure it’s OK if a potential hiring manager reads your views before deciding to bring you in for an interview. I’ve written rants advocating for equal pay and the need for more diversity in STEM. I gave each of these topics a great deal of thought prior to writing these posts, and I would not want to work somewhere that didn’t respect the views I have on these issues. I included links to the sources I rely on to back up my arguments, and I intentionally leave the comments open to indicate my willingness to engage in dialogue.

Keep it positive

It’s important to consider that anyone may read your post. In many states, you can be fired for writing about your place of employment or your coworkers in a negative way. It has happened. In the immortal words of Heather Armstrong who earned notoriety when she was fired for blogging about her work life, “BE YE NOT SO STUPID.” Keep it positive when talking about your employer and colleagues.

Where should you post?

Where you think you would be most likely to be seen. My favorite places to write long-form content aside from this blog are Medium and LinkedIn, but you should consider your own industry when deciding where to share your perspective. If you decide to write a blog post after reading this one, please share a link with me! I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Finally, I’d like to say thanks. Thank you for reading this blog, for sharing it with your network, and for commenting here or on social media. As much as I enjoy working at home with only my cats to keep me company, it’s gratifying to hear from those who read and appreciate my words.

If you're anticipating a career shift this year and would like to work with a career coach, drop me a note.

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