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Saturday, October 4, 2008

how does blogging affect job-hunting?

A reader writes:

What is your take on having a blog and how that might affect your career, especially if you are job-hunting?

I blog as a hobby for about five years now. I have a political blog where I often deal with controversial topics and issues and which I sometimes take staunch positions. It is well-written (I don't rant and rave -- this is where I do serious writing and reflection) and I try to be thoughtful in my posts. I also am linked to several nationally-known bloggers and have a growing readership.


My question is: as a hiring manager, what is your take on a potential hire having such a hobby? Would you hold their writings against them -- especially if they deal with controversial political and cultural topics? I make an effort to be anonymous and use a pseudonym but my true identity can easily be found out using a simple Google search. I do not mention any of my employers at all in my blog posts and tend to avoid topics that have to do with my employer's business. That said, I am not sure if that is enough precaution to keep me out of trouble.


Depends on the employer, and depends on how controversial.

Here's where I come down on it (and this is only my personal take, not representative of all employers): If someone is writing about a controversial issue and they're doing it in a thoughtful, calm way, then regardless of which side of the issue they're on, that's fine with me. But if someone is ranting, or so extreme in their views that they're scary (and that's subjective, of course), or just offensive, it's probably a deal-breaker.

Also, if I know about a candidate's blog, it's going to become part of their application package whether they know it or not. I'm going to look at it for evidence of how their writing is, how they use logic, what their judgment is like, and generally who they are -- like a MySpace page, it's definitely not off-limits. This could help or it could hurt, depending on the blog. (Side story: I actually once saw the blog of a candidate who had blogged about her interview process with me. It was well-done and it helped.)

In any case, personally, it's more about the type of thing above than whether or not I object to the particular views the person is espousing. In fact, I would rather not have a staff with identical views anyway.

However, it's a risk. Plenty of employers won't agree with me and if they disagree with your views may hold it against you. To some extent, this is human nature. Some of hiring involves personal chemistry.

Additionally, you need to be prepared for employers to require you to discontinue the blog once you're on the job, or at least give you rules about what you can and can't write about. In some fields you just can't have an outside blog that showcases your individual opinions. For instance, if you work on a political campaign that's moderate and you have a blog where you occasionally display more radical opinions, that's a problem for the campaign and they're going to make you shut it down -- because many people will see it reflecting on them even if it doesn't actually. So if the blog is important to you and you don't want to find yourself choosing between it and your job, it might even be worth asking about before you take an offer.

Anyway, this is a huge topic and we've only scratched the surface. Anyone else want to weigh in?

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello

Thanks for answering my question. As I suspected (and feared a little bit) I pretty much agree with your assessment on the risks and potential downsides of having a political blog as a hobby to my career prospects.

My career is non-political and my professional role is a technical one. I am not an extremist in my views and am actually quite moderate but that is a relative term depending on the person. One person's "moderate" may be another's "radical."

That said, how open should I be about having this hobby on interviews? Should I come right out and say it and perhaps close the door on myself prematurely before I get a chance to prove myself? Or should I wait on revealing until the talks are serious and/or I have an offer in hand?

One good thing: it is very open at my job and with my current employer about my blogging hobby and I have never been reprimanded or gotten in trouble because of it. I have a disclaimer in my blog that I will never mention my work or work matters in the blog. My big fear is that other potential employers may not be so tolerant.

Rachel - I Hate HR said...

I wish I had an answer for this one.

Since I don't proofread or put hours of thought into my posts it's not something I'm going to outright advertise to an employer. Obviously if they search my name it will come right up. But will they search my name? I don't bother Googling anyone where I currently work. Although I will check out their websites if they list them just for fun.

I think one good way to use your blog while job searching is to write about the jobs you are applying to and why they would be a good fit for you. It's like having a direct link to the employer without being overbearing.

Anonymous said...

Is there any reason why your blog has to have any identifying details about you? When I blog, I make no mention of who I am, my age, my gender, and take great care not to bring up my name, my city, or my industry.

Ask Rosezilla said...

I kindof think it helps, personally. I only started getting the work I wanted when I put my blogs and writing on my resume. Of course, I live in NYC and being hyphenated (writer/singer/doctor/garbageman) seems to put people at ease. For some reason, being "just" something isnt big in this town.

I think the flipside is that if your geographical area/potential employers hold your being an interesting, well-written, multi-dimensional person against you, it may not be the place you want to live/work.

The Office Newb said...

I started blogging to have a portfolio of work to show employers and put the URL right on my resume.

All interviewers read through my posts and asked about it during interviews. My co-workers are now some of my most faithful readers.

That said, if your blog has nothing to do with work and you do not mention details about the company that you work for which could possibly leak corporate secrets, I do not think you need to disclose your hobby during the hiring process unless you'd think it would help your chances.