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Does blogging really help your career?

klamping profile image Kevin Lamping ・2 min read

I love the community here and the fact that we can openly share ideas between one another.

But I keep hearing/reading from various sources (not specifically here) that one of the great benefits of writing tutorials/blogging is how much it helps your career through connections and such.

I feel like this is akin to people saying how free work is all about "exposure" or that "it's great for your portfolio!"

Aside from maybe helping me get my first job out of college, I can't recall a single interview I've had where they cared about what I've written.

They may care a little about side projects, in that it checks the box that you're willing to work outside of work, but the difference between having written a single article and having written 500 articles seems to be nil.

I'm not trying to be selfish and stating that there's no point in doing this if it doesn't advance my career. There are many, many reasons to write that I find very valuable (and I'm sure many of you would agree with).

I guess I just wish people wouldn't give that specific advice without evidence to back it up. Blogging won't land you a job, at least not in the near-term. It takes months (even years) of effort for it to start to have any professional effect.

What are your experiences? Has writing here (or elsewhere) helped you land that killer job? Am I completely wrong in my objection?

Edit: These are awesome responses everyone! It's helping remind me that while we may never hear "You wrote this blog post therefore you're hired", it helps us learn the soft skills needed in interviews and communication in general.

Discussion

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Ben Halpern

Writing has really been everything for my career. It's lead to an incredible amount of opportunities. Honestly, I can find out so much more about someone if they've written than purely from the code they've purported to have contributed. Writing provides backstory, context, and demonstrates a willingness to share the knowledge.

But it was years before writing became part of my career. I'd have done it sooner if I had the motivation and confidence, but I got along fine without it. Ultimately you'll do well if you're willing to practice the craft with care. Don't write if it isn't fulfilling.

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Davide de Paolis

Writing provides backstory, context, and demonstrates a willingness to share the knowledge.

exactly. especially for companies looking for employees who match their culture fit, a quick read a some blog posts may tell more about the attitude, the motivation of the candidate rather than a bunch of commits to opensource or pet projects.

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Jen Miller

tell more about the attitude

I think these two comments above me are well said.

It also gives a better sense of depth of knowledge then code. And for someone who reviews candidates, it's definitely seen as a plus.

I would say attitude is double edge sword though. Some bloggers are incredibly egotistic and almost shame and embarrass the reader. Blogging about something your passionate in is one thing, but taking the "I'm a advocate" to justify rudeness/bullying is another....and the #watercooler talk among my colleagues is that nobody wants a rude a-hole on the team 🙄

I think it's a balance, you need to be who you are. But once it's public, it can both help and hurt.

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Ben Halpern

Absolutely. I definitely look for compassion for the reader and excitement to teach in one's writing every bit as much as I look for technical expertise.

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Thomas H Jones II

Oof... My posts tend to be full of attitude: frequently, what's caused me to write was something that was annoying to research and solve.

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Jen Miller

hi Thomas,
I think that's fine because we're expressing frustration, which is normal. We're not robots.

To me, regarding "frustration", I personally think there's a difference between:

"Spent 3hrs trying to center a div, I hate jQuery. I wish it was easier. This is how I did it. Wish there was a easier way...." kind of thing.

VS

"Here a stance about (insert tech, politics, dev community, best practices) and if you don't agree, then you are a bad person and need to change. Look at my likes and followers and see how everyone else agrees with me."

The thing is, I don't think a person should necessarily change who they are or how they write just for their career. Expression is a important part of each individual.

But when the question is, "will my blog help me in my career". If a candidate constantly extrudes arrogance, putting down those that do not agree, and one-way communication, I'm not sure it helps (in general) 😕.

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Thomas H Jones II

If you're the writing type, maintaining "personal" and "tech" blogs is generally a good idea. Preferably, doing it under unique userids to reduce the likelihood that you'll blog to one when you meant to blog to the other.

Then again, I generally try to maintain a fairly strong firewall between "work" me and "personal" me when it comes to online presence. In both cases, my attitudes will definitely still come across. It's mostly a topics-separation (my politics doesn't generally have bearing on how I approach technical things and technical stuff tends to bore/confuse the people that read my personal stuff). That said, "pure rant" (i.e., stuff that doesn't include "how I solved or worked around this problem" type of content) tends to go on my personal blogs.

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Thomas H Jones II

I've been a habitual writer from early on:

  1. If I can write something I've recently learned down in an explanatory fashion, it helps solidify that learning in my memory.
  2. If the thing I learned was something obscure, if I've written it down in a blog, then I know that I only need search my blog for that bit (and, bonus, it's already in an explanatory format) rather than hoping I can reconstruct the Googling process that allowed me to learn it in the first place (which with links dying over time, can be problematic - especially for edge-case stuff)
  3. When I inevitably get asked a question about something at work, if I've already blogged it, I can respond to the person with a "here: read this" rather than having to engage in the back-and-forth of a full explanation.

It's just a habit that makes life easier. Plus, it's kind of cool when someone tells you "your page was the first google hit" (or you look at your blog's analytics and see how many people around the world were drawn to your blog for a given bit of information). It's really funny when it's someone at work posting into a Slack channel, "I'd run into this problem, so I hit Google, and the first result I got back (or first result that explained it in an easily understood manner) was in your blog".

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Jen Miller

Plus, it's kind of cool when someone tells you "your page was the first google hit"

That is very cool feeling, I agree.

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Davide de Paolis

it's also very cool when you google for a solution you don't remember anymore and you find your own post! :-)

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Thomas H Jones II

That too. Though, usually, my inability to forget means that I usually remember "I know I wrote something about that, once". Usually, though, I'll think "it was a few weeks ago" and it turns out to have been a few years ago. :p

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Ryan Smith

I think it comes down to writing blogs because you want to, not for career growth. It can be good for exposure but not if treated as a chore. The quality won't be there if the person is not that into it.

I think the best way to grow your career is to grow yourself. That could be through study, experience at a job, side projects, or blogging. Blogging gives a developer practice in written communication, which is a large part of any job. Having the ability to take something complex and explain it in writing is not always the easiest task. It also helps reinforce your own knowledge by having to explain it to others. It takes time and isn't a guaranteed win though.

It can lead to "exposure", which can lead to opportunities, which can lead to jobs. There are posters on this site that I only knew through their posts, have seen them show up as guests on podcasts, have seen them become podcasters themselves, or have seen them speak at conferences. I think that will benefit them greatly if they go job hunting.

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Kevin Lamping Author

That's a great point that blogging/writing improves soft skills that will directly translate over to job interviews (or even just making connections).

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Kevin Pennekamp

I don't know if my blogging will be good for my career or not, but even after a few posts I am gaining value. I am improving on my writing skills, learning how people read my writing. I learn about using tools that improve my writing. I try to create my own visualisations that help my blog. These can be diagrams, but also just digital drawings. Improving this skill helps me making concepts more clear to my clients. Important for this is learning to structure your thoughts and put it on paper. Last but not least, you learn so much from blogging. You have to do research for more technical blogs, which will give you some new insights. But comments/questions from others, for instance here on dev.to, gives you new insights or new topics to research yourself!

So blogging itself might not directly give you opportunities (although it will for many), it is also a great way to improve various skills that can impact your career.

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Jen Miller

I truly think it depends on what you want to do in your career. For certain types of organizations, 'exposure' will help out more than others.

In all honesty, I don't write blogs for my personal job searching, however:

When I evaluate candidates (by the time I see them, they are already though the recruiter and HR), I do checkout a person's website (if they have one) to see what else they work on.

I can tell you that having a blog helps for sure, especially if the blog topics have a connection to technology stack used in the job the candidate is interviewing for.

It can also show your perspective on mentoring and teaching.

But if someone is cramming out 100 articles per year, no interviewer will go though their entire history. So everything has its limits.

I do write blogs articles, but for other reasons (to learn, help, mentor, have fun).

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Mitch Stanley

There are two key benefits of blogging for me:

  1. It helps reinforce what I've learned.
  2. It's a great refresher when I inevitably come up against the same problem 6 months down the line.

As for my career, it hasn't opened any doors but I think it did help show my skillset.

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Max Ong Zong Bao

Besides helping in exposure which takes in terms of years for personal branding perspective, it helps you to develop the ability to communicate better by writing well.

Most of our development work is in written communication and it requires us to write to provide context.

There are tons of companies like Stripe or Airbnb, which use one's ability to write clearly as part of a gauge in understanding the developer's ability to communicate their idea to get a point across.

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Mike Ekkel

I'm absolutely convinced about the positive sides blogging can have for my career. Whether that's through gaining valuable connections or simply helping me understand new concepts. I've been struggling to get started, though.

Yesterday I listened to this Syntax.FM episode where Wes and Scott go into blogging and how it can help you, how to go about it and what to keep in mind. It's actually been helpful for me in that it gives me a clear image of how I should tackle this.

The most important thing with blogging, at least for me, is: what do you want to get out of it?

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Nick Trierweiler

You have a typo in your post: "The may care" should be "They may care".

I still think blogging is valuable even if it hasn't helped you yet. When you do get noticed, will help you keep interest. I don't think blogging is a good way to get noticed anymore, as there are so many bloggers out there. However, if you can get noticed some other way, blogging goes a long way towards keeping their interest and demonstrating your knowledge. As others have said already, writing code and writing about code can demonstrate different things which the reader may find to be valuable to them.

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Jason C. McDonald

One of the benefits to writing for me is how much knowledge I acquire in the process, both from my own research and from reader feedback. For example, since I've started the "Dead Simple Python" series, I've learned a lot I never knew about Python (among other things).

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Max Ong Zong Bao

Love your articles it's really awesome. I always look forward to it whenever it is published.

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Thomas H Jones II

Personal blogging as specifically career-enhancing (i.e., a difference-maker in whether you land a given job)? Probably not - but likely depends on your career-path.

Blogging is one of those things you do for yourself. If others find value in your writing great ...but it's just gravy.

That said, if you're looking for an excuse to avoid writing, you're really only hurting yourself. Often times, the difference between the guy who gets the promotion and the one who doesn't is in how well you communicate. The more frequently you write, the more practiced you become at it. If promotion isn't a concern - which is to say, you feel that your financial advancement-path will only ever need to come through job-hopping - then how well you write likely isn't a concern.

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Rehan van der Merwe

Fully agree with what everyone says, but really thought there would be more stories were blog posts help advance careers. One of my early blogs got shared on a popular newsletter by someone quirky and witty author known by most of the AWS community. Someone in America noticed, I took the job offer, starting next month and might be making my way there permanently within a year or two.

Soon there after I got approached by a few companies asking me to write blogs for them. My intentions were to contribute back into the community, and I have always found it very fulfilling in helping and teaching others, just sharing in general.

You never know what might happen, I for one never though my next career shift would be because of my blog. So don't dismiss the idea, but also don't set your hopes to high. What goes around comes around.

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Dan Newton

I'll let others write some more formulated and expanded answers, while I keep mine short and sweet.

Blogging is great. It has helped my career greatly, making me better at writing code and explaining ideas. With the extra bonus that I have improved my writing skills.

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Alexey Migutsky

I've published an article with my personal experience of writing articles in an undisciplined way and what opportunities it brought to me.

Hope it adds to the picture!

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Omri Gabay

It does help your career, but I feel like websites like this and others have become too focused on blogging for the purpose of just improving one's branding and not to actually share interesting information.

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Maher Alkendi

For me writing a lot of the time is a way to:

A- Prove to myself that I understand the concept well enough
B- Share something that helped me with others

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Facundo Corradini

Writing helps your career in many ways:

1) It helps you cultivate the intrapersonal skills and linguistics-intelligence related skills. e.i. it improves your communication, which is the most important "soft skill" any developer needs. It helps on keeping your team together and your code maintainable.

2) It helps to really learn a concept. Sure, to write about something you need to understand it first, but getting a concept into words is a great way to really make it "click" in place. Furthermore, you might find edge cases, better practices or alternate approaches when researching for your article, which is always great.

3) It helps to get valuable connections with other devs, which can be a great source for job opportunities and to start building a reputation.

4) It will help companies (or actually, the recruiters and devs interviewing you) understand your personality and what you're passionate about. Your articles can tell more than your code or your words both when it comes to being a good culture fit for the company as for being a good technical fit for the role.

Honestly, there are companies out there where the interviewing process is extremely robotic, where you'll be talking to a recruiter that has a million other resumes to go through and senior devs that will be interviewing you with absurd trivia and challenges without ever looking at your background, so whatever you've written might not be of direct use in those.
But others will really take the time to check what you're all about and find the position that better suits you.

So blogging not only helps on landing a job, it helps on landing a good job.

I'd recommend all developers to blog, specially in such a welcoming and awesome community as Dev.

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James Hickey

In my last two job interviews (both of which led to offers), I highlighted some writings that had been featured by Microsoft which made a big impact on the interviewer.

I've had lots of developers reach out to me on various platforms mentioning that they enjoyed an article I wrote and wanted to connect.

In this article, I talk a bit about what I call "Leverage Points" and how they can affect your reputation, landing a job, etc.

I've found blogging to be a huge career boost overall 👍

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Gregor Gonzalez

No and not really. I have a simple programming blog. I have always liked to write and I have several blogs. I have written 3 programming books. I like to help and where I work I always do manuals and documentation for fun.

It has never helped me. Before entering this last job, the manager told me "that's good" and that's it. Nothing more

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Jan Stamer

As a software architect a major part of my work is communication. Writing articles and giving talks proves my communication skills in and outside my company. That helped a lot in getting a decent job.

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Olivier Chauvin

Depends on how you blog. Write about something you're passionate and knowledgeable about. Don't just write because you want to boost your SEO by putting too many keywords into the post.

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C.S. Rhymes

Maybe not blog posts specifically, but I’ve been told by people they have read one of my books during interviews.