When you send me a resume, one of two things is going to happen:
1.) I'll send you a quick email expressing my thanks to you for sending your resume ... "However, your background and skills are not in line with my clients' needs, and I wish you the best of luck in your job search. Etc." As a career ecommerce recruiter, I only send these emails to candidates whose backgrounds have very little to do with ecommerce.
2.) I'll send you an email saying that "I like your background and I would like to know more about your personal situation: Why are you leaving? What is your compensation target? Given the right opportunity, to which cities can you relocate?" And so on.
I will also ask the candidate if they have a Twitter feed and a blog.
In 2008, a little flap arose in the blogosphere regarding resumes and whether or not candidates actually needed them. I won't rehash that debate here. Of course you need a resume.
But blogs can be incredibly important as well. A blog will help me understand if a candidate has a teachable point of view in their functional area of interest -- i.e. email marketing, organic and paid search, usability, affiliate marketing, and so on. A great blog can really differentiate a candidate (or a recruiter!).
But there's a downside, too.
If your blog is average, then I'll hold it against you. If you show poor judgment regarding what to put on your blog, then I will assume that you will show poor judgment regarding what to put on my client's website.
Remember: I have one of the only jobs in the world that allows me to visit my client's actual place of business without ever leaving my office. If a client calls me and wants me to handle their search, I only need to see their website to appreciate what they are trying to accomplish online.
So, the question for you ecommerce candidates is this: If you have a blog, what are YOU trying to accomplish online? Is it in line with my client's objectives? Because if you are applying for a director of online retail marketing role but your blog is about B2B marketing, for example -- then I know that as a candidate, you are essentially inauthentic. Your blog has ratted you out.
And it doesn't end there.
Your Technorati tags can betray you too. if your tags are for things like "real estate sales," "online lead generation," "sales presentations," and the like, then I will ask myself "Does this person really see himself as a director of online retail marketing? Is transactional ecommerce his first love?"
My clients want to hire career ecommerce executives, not just marketers who are applying to their jobs for reasons related to their jobs' and geographic or financial reasons.
Your blog roll will give you away as well. I have been a blogger since 2005. I have read hundreds, maybe thousands, of weblogs and I know which ones are the most credible in the areas of marketing and e-commerce. If you are not linking to the best ones, then I will wonder why.
Now then, clearly I have some updating to do on my own blogroll. But my point is that your blogroll says a lot about you, and you candidates should be aware of that. If you are going to be an ecommerce marketer, then everything about your blog needs to be top-flight in these ten areas ...
- Your blog should have a keyword rich URL -- This is first and foremost in personal branding and SEO-friendliness. The best blogs resemble online trade magazines, where the URL matches the industry, and the content matches the URL.
- Editorial platform and content -- Your blog should be a showcase for industry thought-leadership. If you are not a thought leader (yet!), then interview people who are and post that content online.
- Your writing style -- How are your articles structured? Are they easy to read? Do they flow? Are your arguments cogent and academically sound? Does your copy contain fragments, run-ons, and misspellings? It shouldn't. BTW, the world's greatest copywriters have long said that the best way to tell if copy is great is to make a ten year old boy read your copy aloud. If it sounds stilted and wooden when a boy reads it, then you should re-write it.
- The look and feel of your blog -- Do you use photos and videos effectively? What does your blog's imagery have to say about you and your industry? If I couldn't read, would the images and video still tell me that I'm in the right place?
- The navigation -- Is it obvious to the passerby how he should interact with you as a professional and as a jobseeker? Remember the AIDA model. When someone visits your site, they have obviously been made "aware" of you. Great! Now, how to you convert awareness to interest? (And how would you gauge that interest??)
- Your use of affiliate programs, such as Amazon.com -- This one's a "gravy" item, but it let's me know that you've got game.
- Your use of link bait and other forms of online promotion -- More gravy, more game.
- Your use of attention-grabbing, SEO-friendly headlines and subheads. This is all about SEO survival, and that's what my clients want.
- Your branding elements, which is something that I personally take very very seriously.
- Your reader comments and trackbacks -- Who is reading your blog?? Are they thought leaders in your industry? Are they engaged? Do they leave intelligent comments that contribute something meaningful to the discussion? Check out Kevin Ertell's blog, RetailShakenNotStirred. Kevin is doing everything right in all of the above areas. Kevin even has the branding elements down cold.
I could go on but I won't. My point is that if you have a blog, then make sure it actually provides support to your career objectives. Even if hiring managers won't spell out exactly what turns them off about your blog, just understand that the details matter.