Career Track

Workplace Experts and Novices Share in the Blogosphere

Mary Ellen Slayter
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 31, 2005

Frustration inspired Redante Asuncion Reed, 34, to start his blog about the realities of being a liberal arts grad in the job market.

His site, , has become a gathering place on the Web for those having trouble making the transition from star student to the cold reality of the job market. And that's the audience that Reed, who graduated with a degree in sociology from the University of Vermont in 1994, was looking for. The most important reader of all? His little sister, a sophomore majoring in English. "Instead of lecturing her or giving her advice, I just tell her to go read my blog," said Reed, a publications program manager who lives in the District.

With people blogging about every other aspect of their lives, it's no surprise that many of them turn their attention to the workplace. Workplace blogs include intensely personal tales of woe and triumph, collections of news about the workplace, and advice from "experts" on a variety of topics.

Blogs of the first type are too numerous to list and rarely noteworthy. If you're curious, though, pull up some random sites on Livejournal, . Chances are that you will stumble into recent grads complaining about how evil their bosses are, with direct quotes of every criticism reported in real time.

If news is more your thing, check out the Job Blog sponsored by the Boston Globe. That site, , is a roundup of news items, interesting studies and commentary related to work.

Finally, there are plenty of advice blogs out there, and many of them are quite good. The official blog for the Future of Work, , offers some interesting takes on workplace issues from the perspective of human resources officials. Louise Fletcher, a professional résumé writer, runs a blog on her Web site, , that discusses general job search issues. If you want a corporate take on your workplace questions, try a company-sponsored blog, such as the one run by Microsoft recruiters at .

Reed's site could best be described as a mix of those types -- lots of news, a few book reviews and stories from his own struggles to gain a foothold in the job market.

Thinking about your own work-related blog? Here are a few tips to get you started and keep you out of trouble:

· Find a niche. You're more likely to build an audience of dedicated readers if you narrow your field rather than trying to write about everything. A narrow focus will also make it more likely that search engines such as Google will steer the right people toward your site. Reed said one of the most common ways people find his site is through searching for any combination of the words "liberal arts degrees," "worthless" and "frustration."

· Get linked. Reed tracks his viewers through the use of SiteMeter and counts other bloggers among his most loyal readers. The best way to increase the number of people linking to you is to offer to link to them in return. If you come across other blogs related to yours, send the writers e-mails asking to be included in their blog rolls. Commenting on other people's blogs will also help you build up your name recognition on the Web.

· Update often. The fresher your content is, the more frequently you'll get visitors. More frequent updates will be more time-consuming, of course. Reed said he posts new articles every two weeks, which is an eon in blog time. (My own attempts at blogging have always fallen short on this, too.)

· Don't get too personal. Resist the urge to chronicle the daily happenings in your office. Chances are, they're not that interesting to anyone but you, but they can definitely get you in trouble. You should assume that every past, present and future colleague or potential employer will read every word of your blog. That doesn't mean sugarcoat everything, though, Reed said. "You have to walk a fine line between revealing the truth" and keeping yourself out of trouble.

Weightier Topics

Did you gain or lose weight at your first job out of college? How did you react? If you're willing to share your story for a column on the subject, e-mail me at .

Join Mary Ellen Slayter at 2 p.m. Aug. 5 for Career Track Live, an online discussion of issues affecting young workers, at

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