“Blogging isn’t writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.” This line from the viral thriller Contagion made me wonder if the writing bug spreading through the HR profession is making it difficult to stand out from the crowd and become a respected writer.
Like politicians and celebrities, HR bloggers can bypass the conventional media channels by using social networks to reach their audiences and build their profiles.
However, while anyone can hit ‘publish’, the battle for clicks, likes and comments will depend on your professional reputation and ability to use trade and social media to influence the HR conversation.
The competition in this two-tier news stream is not between your HR blogosphere and trade media coverage as they feed off each other to increase your credibility. The competition is with yourself.
If you want to be a writer and not a recycler of information, get writing and find your voice.
Spray and pray?
I spray my words of wisdom around the HR community, hoping they will inform and inspire and make me a HR superstar. Unfortunately, despite having followed the 10,000 hour rule of practising my craft to become an expert writer, I am not lauded online as a top HR blogger or influential practitioner.
It’s not fair, I want success and I want it now. The writing bug may be a strain of the modern fame phenomenon, causing me to believe I have the talent to be enshrined in the digital footprint of HR, even though I am not a mover and shaker in the business world.
Maybe I need to refocus, as if the adage “write what you know” is the key to success, it makes sense that popular and influential bloggers are established HR professionals first and writers second.
Their success in the workplace and exposure to changing business trends means they can write in an authoritative voice, giving credibility to their views.
To compete against this experiential mismatch, I provide a different perspective when dispensing advice on solutions to workplace challenges.
I am the mid-level HR professional in the coalface of organisational change, employee relations and business delivery who absorbs everything he sees and uses pop culture references to translate it into communicating the challenges, solutions and next steps for the HR profession.
Write like you have a purpose
“With electronic self-publishing, it’s become easier than ever to be ‘an author’. And harder than ever to get attention to your work,” says William Dietrich in his Huffington Post article The Writer’s Odds of Success
If I want to be among the popular bloggers, let alone an author, a moment of introspection is necessary. I may believe I am a talented writer but, like the unsigned rock star uploading his hits to YouTube, other people must like my work to validate my credibility. But I refuse to beg for likes. Publish and be damned and what must be, shall be.
My unfinished self-help book ‘If I fell off the career ladder, I wouldn’t have to go to hospital’ will be my guiding light on this journey. I have been there and done it, learning as I go, finding role models I want to emulate, and those I want to blow raspberries at when I finally achieve success in writing about the world of work.
You can do it too
The first word is the hardest and it doesn’t get any easier as you struggle to put your thoughts on paper. But persevere and eventually the words will flow, giving you a great sense of pride when your articles appear on the world wide web and readers from across the globe want to connect with you.
Maybe one day you will see your name in brackets as people reference your work to explain what’s happening in HR. So, if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, you can become a writer and stand out from the crowd. Just don’t give up the day job as it’s the inspiration for your writing.
Paul Carter is an independent HR blogger and Senior HR Consultant who has worked in HR for six years after spending 10 years in communications and committee management. He is CIPD qualified and writes HR blogs to encourage debate on how to make the world of work a better place. He has studied journalism and screenwriting and is always...