We are all in sales.
Perhaps your history is one of selling products. Perhaps, you built a career selling services. Right now, what we are selling is ourselves, our value to an employer.
How many of us have lamented, if only I could get past the damn computerized gatekeeper and talk to someone, I know I can sell myself – my immediate value to the company. The truth is that even with the electronic application systems, a large number of hires are able to bypass the system due to their connections. It’s why we are encouraged to develop a large LinkedIn network. It’s why we are encouraged to go to industry chapter meetings. It’s why we network with PSGCNJ.
LinkedIn provides a distorted sense of reality. We think that just because we have linked up with someone they will remember us and advocate on our behalf. Yeah, right. I just returned from an industry conference where I presented on the issue of eliminating opioids in workers’ compensation claims. I collected about 80 business cards (not counting the duplicates or triplicates because neither of us remembered that we already exchanged cards.) I was able to make notes on the back of some of the cards. I was sure I would remember the person and the conversation. By the time I got up to my hotel room to enter the contact into my app, some of the contacts and conversations were already forgotten. Linking in with them will probably be nothing more than an opportunity to fill some empty time.
But what if… what if you could keep your name in front of all of your contacts – and their contacts. You can. It’s called blogging. By way of background, while I practiced law for 25 years and was the go-to person for brief writing and presenting in two different firms, it did not come easy. In my final semester of college, I went up to the writing professor with the simple proposition, “I promise to attend class every session and give it my best effort. In return, all I am asking is for a “D”; a passing grade. My cumulative average is high enough that I am getting into law school provided I pass this course and graduate. Please, just give me a passing grade.”
Make no mistake, blogging, or at least at the level that I am advocating is a serious – a professional endeavor that provides a hidden opportunity. Writing a brief for a court, a report for management, or even basic business communications usually requires a focus on grammar and structure. Blogging on the other hand does not.
Blogging gives your audience – including the hiring manager – an opportunity to meet you before and as the hiring process begins. Your next employer gets to see your breadth of knowledge as well as your communication style. Actually, you can come off better in a blog than in real life. In real life you may use the phrase, “youse guys.” In a blog, you have the opportunity to correct it before hitting the Send button. (Yes, using the phrase “Youse guys” is not a good thing.) In general, blogging permits less formal grammatical structure. Most blogs are a written transcript of a verbal process.
Every job posting seems to require “strong verbal and written communication skills.” It is so ubiquitous that when I visited a manufacturing plant, the company had its openings posted on the wall outside the cafeteria. There were numerous listings for machine operators. The posting required strong verbal and written communication skills. I went out onto the production floor after receiving my extremely effective ear protection. The machine operators were not allowed to bring anything such as a pen or pencil into the production area to avoid it landing up in the food product. No writing. Minimal speaking (or shouting as it was). But the “strong” communication skill appeared in the job posting. Being able to post that you regularly blog is proof that you actually do have strong communication skills.
When I started blogging I had less than a handful of followers. The few friends who knew what I was going through. By the time I landed my job with Mars (yes, the folks who make Snickers and M&Ms) I had over 1,200 followers. In my first live interview that resulted in my getting the job offer, the interviewer, a significant person in the organization, told me that my blog had drawn his attention to me. My words were the foot-in-the-door. Ironically, I was told that if I landed the job, I would have to make my blog disappear. Fair deal. About three years into my employment, I was asked to develop an internal blog to promote the risk management and claims management department.
So, how do you blog and get the blog read? That, my friend, is the topic for next month.
About The Author:
Jeff Marshall is a senior-risk management and claims management professional. His roles have included claims manager for Mars, Incorporated, director of risk management for the School District of Philadelphia, deputy director of risk management for the State of New Jersey, and senior trial counsel/section manager for in-house counsel of a major workers compensation insurance company. Jeff is a widely-published authority on risk and claims issues including, the cover story of Claims Litigation Management (CLM) Magazine’s July 2022 issue ( The U.S. Supreme Court Decisions that could affect insurers) and presents on the national Claims and Risk Management stage including his October 2022 Ted Talk-style presentation at the national ClaimsXChange conference on reducing and eliminating opioids in workers’ compensation claims. Jeff’s original participation with the PSGCNJ was in 2015.