When I was involved in marketing my consulting business, I learned that if I differentiated myself from the crowd, there was a higher likelihood to win a client. This is really useful advice for getting recognized anytime we are competing for an opportunity.
For the past few months, I have been making suggestions to a young college graduate looking for a job. This young lady has shown that she is capable of doing good work as evidenced by her college grades. Her major is in social science rather than technical and those jobs are harder to find. My suggestion? Distinguish yourself from the crowd.
First, what did she do well? She said she enjoyed reading and writing. With that in mind, I suggested that she write to get 'recognized.' Start simple and write a blog; write up small articles for publishing in local newsletters; submit articles to electronic newsletters. Offer to write a column in a community paper. The goal? Build up a body of writings that are in the area of your expertise or area of interest. Once you have a set of articles, these are used as part of your 'resume' when submitting for a position.
Here is my suggestion on writing:
- Do the following without thought of a publication. Do it just so that you can gather your thoughts on a topic.
- Draft up a set of topics that you feel you have expertise and insight in. Mull them over and consider which would be most relevant based on current events.
- Pick and outline ideas for one of the topics.
- Write it up – about 700-1500 words only. Depending on the publication, that’s the size of articles they want.
- Find local publications (print or electronic) that may have interest in what you want to say. I started publishing by writing a column for a local (district within DC). They were receptive and we got four articles published before they shifted gears.
- A publishing consultant once said that if you want to become a subject matter expert in eyes of readers, you have to work your way up. Start with community papers with very little screening to get started.
- Once you get published, you use these publications to move to a next level by showing the higher level publications your prior article(s). Each publication gives you credibility since a third-party deemed your writing was worthy. The publication itself is a testimony to your subject matter expertise.
- If you find a trade association that fits your interest, that is a great place to write an article. It has the dual benefit of being in your field of interest and getting yourself known (quickly)! However, you will probably be expected to join the group. Joining your professional association demonstrates that you are serious. At this point in your career, this would be a distinctive mark of membership.
- As you reach out for a job, I would work in parallel to write article(s) as I note above. Each time you can get in for an interview or learn about what a firm needs, it helps you to focus what you want to say in a future article. Timely articles will be impressive for your next interview.
The electronic media is a very good place for new writers. Online publications are essentially national (actually worldwide), so that’s good. Because they need articles daily, they are good bets to get articles published. Definitely try a bunch of them. Also, many do not have restrictions about your article going to several sources at the same time. Hence, send your articles to as many outlets as you see relevant. I once had the same article published in three web places during the same period. The printed press is a little more difficult to break into, except for local papers that don’t have a large corps of writers.
Check out blogs in your areas of interest to get an idea what people are writing. This will give you an idea what you might do with a blog. Another thought. Read books and blog what you read.
UPDATE: This young lady just submitted an article for publication and had a blog published as a guest blogger in her areas of interest. She is on the way to differentiating herself from the crowd!
© Baldwin H. Tom CMC