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Lately I've seen a number of application developer job postings with a dedicated field for personal blog site.

I was wondering how important keeping a blog and generating tech related content is for career development? How does having one/not having one effect your potential for getting hired?

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closed as not constructive by Yannis Mar 8 '12 at 13:02

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Interesting read on this subject: How to Write More Clearly,Think More Clearly, and Learn Complex Material More Easily -- –  Svish Dec 15 '10 at 18:45
@Svish, an interesting resource, but the contrast was killing my eyes. Thanks for all of the great answers so far everyone! Keep them coming! –  Ben L Dec 15 '10 at 20:03
Worth the read either way in my opinion. –  Svish Dec 15 '10 at 20:17
@Ben, I totally agree. The author of this presentation has failed in his fifth step of the writing process. Although, it's not a bad paper altogether. –  Deiwin Jul 23 '12 at 10:12

6 Answers 6

up vote 43 down vote accepted

I find that it's not blogging per se that makes you a better developer, but rather it's the practice at explaining things to other people. When you write up a blog post, you generally are compelled to learn more about the subject you're talking about or at the very least to explain it coherently. If you can explain it coherently in a blog post, you can explain it coherently in person and thus your communication skills just got better.

You are better able to articulate your opinions and knowledge, which is a very helpful thing for career advancement.

Other than that, an up-to-date blog shows that you are active in software development and take time to learn and share knowledge with others. If you have a blog but you haven't updated it in a year, don't put it on your resume without at least resurrecting it with a regular series of posts. In terms of a direct effect on your hiring potential, having a blog might help increase your chances or lower them depending on the blog's quality.

So the bottom line is, if you have something to say, go for it. If you don't, don't sweat it.

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Spot on, especially that last sentence. If you try to force content out of yourself, it will be obvious. –  Maxpm Dec 15 '10 at 14:13

I find keeping a blog forces you to update frequently, which may or may not be a good thing.

On one hand, it might leech valuable time from the day. On the other, it can grant you fresh perspective. Forcing yourself to explain things in a way the outside world can understand can lead to you understanding your own code better. It also might make you more productive, because you feel obligated to fill your blog posts with new content.

As far as tutorials go, I usually keep a text document on my desktop with a bunch of neat tips/tricks for myself that I made or found on the Internet.

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Great point on using a blog to help yourself out. I have such a bad memory that I've resorted to being way too detailed in my commit messages, but I recently decided that blogging + writing tutorials will help me remember how I solved particular problems, or my thinking behind a particular design. –  Dave Dec 15 '10 at 14:05

Keeping a technical blog can be very helpful as it lets potential employers become familiar with your coding style and philosophy, but it's not a requirement. On the other hand, certain controversial positions may also put off potential employers.

That said, it's probably best to keep a blog for its own sake and not just to further your career. If you're posting because you expect it to improve your chances of getting hired, that will show up in your posts.

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You need to give forward. It's like giving back, but earlier ;)

In the realm of marketing, it is called the Reciprocity Principle. If you give someone something, they will want to give you something back.

I'm not trying to brag here, but this is what happened to me.

I started a data mining blog and Youtube channel (100,000+ visitors), and because of it, I got a job lecturing at one of the best schools in Canada, was asked by the #1 data mining company to consult for them, and have people from around the world asking to give me money to show them how to do stuff. It's pretty great. Yesterday I worked with a doctor from South America to mine patient data, which might save some lives down the road.

Pick a niche. Become an expert. And just give it away for free. No ads. No $100 whitepapers. Just give it away, and people will think you're smart and nice and awesome. And they will ask for your help, and offer to pay you. When you apply to a company and they ask "why should we hire you?" and you say "because I have the number one blog on [topic x], and get x thousand hits a month, and everyone comes to me for expert advice", well that's pretty hard to argue with.

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I find it's not so useful for the job scene (mind you I have nothing to back that up really). But in terms of interacting with your community and your peers around the world having a blog is pretty darn valuable. It's definitely aided in getting me getting my first book deal and being invited to speak at conferences etc, and that's despite my blog not even being really that good (to be blunt)! :)

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I was wondering how important keeping a blog and generating tech related content is for career development? How does having one/not having one effect your potential for getting hired?

having one is helpful. these days, the first thing someone does is google your name. if your name shows up in some technical areas, then +1. it's not just blogs though. it can be forums, open source version control comments, mailing lists, etc.

it's not hard to get started. what i do is whenever i solve a problem or have an insight on something, or even just want to comment on it, i write a little blog entry. do i think i'm saying something important or meaningful? of course not. for us non-nihilists, it's a tough mental leap to start blabbing publicly when we know that what we are saying is of little value.

there's an important flip side of this. keep personal information to a minimum. you never know what sort of thing is going to turn someone off. for example, by law (in the US), an employer can't ask if you have children. if you expose that you have 8 children on facebook, they just got around that law. something you think is innocuous today might harm you down the road. once you post it, it's there forever.

you have to judge the risk / benefit. if you think it's really important that everyone sees that picture of you mooning the senior citizens, if that's more important than getting the job you want down the road, then by all means post that picture.

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