http://romugaboriau.com/salary-raise/

How One Blog Post Led Me To a 28% Raise

When I decided to write one blog post a week for 2016, this was just an experiment to improve my writing.

I never thought blogging could lead to a 28% raise!

Now let me explain, my boss did not decide to give me a raise because of my writing effort. As a matter of fact, he probably has no idea I’m doing this during my spare time, but other people noticed.

I use social media to share a lot of my writing, including LinkedIn and Medium on which I repurpose my content to increase my reach. One benefit I didn’t anticipate was the visibility I gained towards potential employers.

Then, I got a few emails from talent acquisition managers and other recruiters. One got my attention.

I’ve always been interested in the software industry so I decided it was worth talking to Andrew. He did a great job telling me about the new path Sage was taking. After a few phone calls, I was set up for an on-site interview with the team.

Before going there, Andrew advised me to take the free trial, and this is when I decided to go all out!

A few months prior, I had an interview with Layla Grayce, a small ecommerce player in the furniture industry. I already created a blog post for their CEO as a way to show how I could bring value to her company, while giving her a chance to answer some rapid fire questions.

Even though it didn’t lead to anything, I used that article as a template for the one I created for Sage.

The blog I shared with Sage was so well received, my interviewer decided to share it with the rest of her team on Chatter. She said “this is exactly what we’re looking for in a candidate”. She was impressed I went above and beyond by including clear recommendations and great insights.

Before diving into best practices, let me tell you about one of the biggest benefits of blogging as a job hunting tool: YOU control the conversation.

One of the most frustrating things during the interview process is that you never know what’s coming your way. It can be challenging to get ready to answer every possible questions. I even remember past interviews during which we didn’t talk about anything related to my skill set.

This is why that blog had a big impact: it was tailored for the interviewer, and it helped me guide the discussion where I wanted it to go.

If you’re interested in using that technique before your next interview, here are some best practices you should consider.

Be Personal

Even though we’re getting use to personalization via email, it’s a great feeling to read an article that was written for you!

In my case, it was easy to throw the reader’s first name in there since I only had one reader at a time, the interviewer. The intro of the blog and the rapid fire questions were the two main sections that were impacted by my personalization strategy.

The featured image I created for the blog I shared with Sage

Intro: By including a visual and her first name, the interviewer knew right away I created a blog answering her needs. I made sure to use a conversational tone by using the word “you” as needed. Depending on what you’re applying for, I also recommend inserting some links to key resources like your resume, your portfolio, other blogs or projects you might have done that can showcase your talent.

The featured image I created for the blog for Layla Grace CEO Wendy Estes

Rapid fire questions:

In that section, I asked specific questions about several topics:

  • Work environment
  • Marketing strategy in place
  • Details about the job position itself

I also wanted to show the interviewer I did my research about the company, and about her!

It turns out my future boss started working for Sage after a few years of owning her own marketing consulting firm. That’s why I asked her “What made you decide to work with Sage after launching your own business?”.

During the interview process, I took the time to update those personalized sections every time I had to meet with a new person in the company.

Go the extra mile by doing your research

For a long time, I used to think it wasn’t worth spending too much time researching a company I might never work for. I obviously missed the point!

If you decide to create a blog post for your next interviewer, your objective should be to prove you’re willing to go the extra mile to show how much value you could bring. Displaying your creative side is good, but it’s crucial to take the time to learn about the company, their products, their history, and their marketing.

Here are a few steps you can follow:

  1. Take their free trial if any
  2. Call sales
  3. Read their brochure
  4. Subscribe to their newsletter
  5. Google their brand name and other related keywords to see what organic and paid search results come up
  6. Use tools like spyfu.com and compete.com to get a glimpse at their web stats.
  7. Write recommendations from a marketing perspective
  8. Write feedback from a user experience standpoint, not only for the website. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and share your thoughts about all points of contact.

Following this procedure, you will find great insights to make recommendations in your post.

You could also find other original ways to go the extra mile and provide value. For instance, I created a playlist of podcasts Layla Grayce‘s CEO could be interested in!

Recommendations about making recommendations

Don’t be afraid to point out the obvious: Focusing on bringing value doesn’t mean you shouldn’t point out the obvious. What’s obvious to you might not be obvious to them as we all have a different perspective. For example, I told Layla Grayce’s CEO they should “engage and start conversations with [their] audience” on social media. I feel like most of us know that, but by scanning through their social network profiles, I felt like this wasn’t utilized enough.

Be bold: The best way to showcase your expertise is to tell it as it is! Pick your words carefully, but being blunt will reinforce your ideas. For example, I told Sage that “as a user, clicking twice in a row on two different CTAs was confusing.” When talking about Layla Grayce’s blog, I said “there’s too little content, no keywords, no links.” Being real can sound like you’re being harsh, but if the interviewer doesn’t take it the right way, it’s probably someone you don’t want to work with. Still, make sure you don’t come across rude, which is why you should consider the next bullet point.

Balance out positive and negative feedback: Even though the examples above are not negative per se, it’s crucial to share the good things you’ve seen, could it be the signup process for the free trial, the ease of use of a product or website, or the social media strategy. For example, in my post, I mentioned the free trial signup for Sage One was very easy as they allow you to use your Google or Facebook account.

Have you used blogging during an interview process? What other techniques have you used?

Now go out there, blog, and make a great impression!

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Originally published at romugaboriau.com on April 17, 2016.

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