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Monday, March 02, 2009

Blogging and Your Career

I have heard many stories about job applicants who are rejected because of drunken photos of themselves that they have posted on the Internet.

Don't worry. I have no plans to start posting pictures of my wild parties. However, I started a blog recently. I know that it is common for prospective employers to search the Internet to dig up dirt on job applicants, so I am wary of putting too much personal information, good or bad, on my blog. My concern is that some employers might refuse to hire me because of my political, religious, and ideological views. Is this a valid concern? What suggestions do you have for blogging so that I do not hurt my future career? Thanks for your advice.

Ahh, internet anonymity. A subject near and dear to my heart. Obviously I'm someone who was concerned because I didn't start out blogging under my real name. (Incidentally, although I don't blog under my real name, I write under my real name, Suzanne Lucas, at US News.)

So, the answer to this is very important to me. I can't give you a definitive answer, but I think I would be hesitant to put my name out there if I was putting information down I didn't want to come up in a job interview.

I came to the realization that the next time I'm on a job search, I want to work for a company that likes Evil HR Lady's views. If they don't, I really don't want to work there. (Unless I get desperate, then I'll deny, deny, deny!)

But my blog is related to my job. I'm very careful not to comment on companies I've worked for or even specific industry related things. I want everyone reading this to know that my views represent MY views and not any company's views.

You aren't looking to do a professional related blog. You're interested in politics, religion and ideology. Can that hurt you? Sure. Especially if you take super whacko views on something.

Would I be careful about what I put in the internet? Absolutely. Would I want to know before hiring someone that they held a firm belief in the the flatness of the earth and want Kansas to be declared the center of the universe? Umm, yeah.

Would I advise recruiters and hiring managers to scour the web looking for any bit of evidence of what a candidate writes? No. Would I label a recruiter remiss if she didn't run a google search on the candidate in addition to a background search? Yes.

So, can your blogging hurt you? Yes. Be careful what you say. Blog anonymously, but as you do so, remember that your anonymity is really a false sense of security. It's not THAT hard to figure out who someone is if you really want to know.


Tom LaForce said...

Anyone who decides to start posting anything on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. better be thinking two things. First this stuff can and will be found. Second, it is next to impossible to take it back once it's out.

Kimberley said...

My rule is never, ever blog about my job.

Erica said...

I was trying to blog anonymously at first, but I just kept thinking of what I would do or say if I my secret identity was revealed. I decided that it was a false sense of security, and now while I don't blast my name everywhere, I don't pretend to be anonymous any more. If I wrote it, I will have to stand behind it.

Daniel said...

I've got disagree on this. Blogging with my identity known is a great liberator. I'm not trying to hide anything.

But with my identity known, I place certain rules on myself - never talk about my workplace or my clients, and never try to be a flame thrower.

It might not win me viewers, but I sleep very easily at night.

Amy said...

Good topic. I think that moving forward, the Web will only become more transparent. With that comes a certain cognizance about what you're putting out there. Yes, I agree that it's smart to be careful to consider your audience (potentially millions of people) and think about what you say and do (as you would offline).

But I also think that with so many recruiters and employers searching for candidate info, it's a great opportunity for job seekers to market themselves and their personal brand, and to get their work out there on the Internet and showcase their talents. Employers will find these things too -- and being proactive will only help candidates in the long run.

The Office Newb said...

I started a blog during a job hunt precisely to show to potential employers. I used my name and photo (so employers would know it was really me) and just approach each post with "would I want my employer/mother/coworkers to read this?"

Beth Robinson said...

Yes, you might not get hired by some companies.


You might be looked on favorably because you've already demonstrated your ability to think logically, your communication skills, your perseverance (if the blog has been around more than a few months), potentially your marketing skills in bringing in readers, your ability to be discreet if you are careful about how you bring up work and and and

I can go on.

Your blog topic and the style you write in (trash-talk vs. professional, for example)are going to determine how strong each side of that AND is.

talentedapps said...

Maybe I wasn't paying attention before and I'm the last to notice but I wanted to comment on how happy I am to know of your work at US News and your real name.


GeekMBA360 said...

I think if someone is interested in using blog as a personal branding tool, he/she should separate personal blog from professional blog. There is way too much professional risk for sharing too much personal information.

My recommendation is to use a pen name to write your blog, which will reduce your risk, and protect you privacy.

Anonymous said...

I once worked for a small privately owned company whose owner Googled every job applicant. In reviewing resumes I found one that seemed like a great fit for our needs; when I broached the owner about the applicant he dismissively replied that the guy had referred to himself as an "avatar" and he sure as heck didn't want any avatars in HIS company. So, EHRL is right, if you wouldn't want to work for a company that disagrees with your bloggings. However, if you want an opportunity to at least get an interview, use a nom de plume or be very careful about what you say!

Holmes said...

Companies can be so small-minded when it comes to these issues. They are more worried about whether you might peruse a website with scantily clad women on it (yes, I know- ostensibly for EEO reasons, but their fervor in pursuing such crimes usually isn't on par with, say, cutting waste and fostering an innovative environment), or if you do have a drunken picture of yourself somewhere. They are surprised to find that people are flawed? And isn't someone showing one of their minor flaws better than someone who hides their major one?

HeatherRadish said...

I have a common first name paired with a common last name--there are almost 400 people on Facebook with my whole name (and another two dozen if you include my common middle name, which I don't). Most of the ones with profile pictures of them drinking half-naked are obviously too young to be me, but some of them don't have a birth year or city listed, or list my city--anyone who has just done a phone interview would not know they are not me. Many of them also express strong political and religious viewpoints quite opposite of my own. We won't even mention the assorted women with my name on government sites that list liens and criminal charges--again, there's no way to know that someone with my name and my city is not me.

If I don't get an offer because they thought the chick with my name from my city with the pictures of the bong in her profile was me, I'll never know, so how can I be proactive about it?

Junior said...

So funny that I came across this post through and was JUST talking about this exact issue with him last week...

I use my blog as an avenue to direct traffic to my company because the two go hand-in-hand - I'm a finance blogger and I train accountants, the line that divides both is thin sometimes. As long as we don't have an exclusive deal with the Federal Reserve who I bag on constantly I'm ok, right? Well at least for now... came to the point where my personal project was getting enough attention to warrant a disclaimer (that the author's views are hers and hers alone) - as much as that should be a given, it isn't always so obvious to readers.

I value the freedom on my personal project and have an understanding with my company that the two may merge every now and then but need to be careful that I don't criticize our student base (would never dream of doing so) or talk smack about some accounting firm we've got a deal with.

Transparency as it pertains to the Internet has a long way to go. And I imagine that in the years ahead we'll all be forging new ground in that arena.

For now, I agree completely with what you're saying.

Anonymous said...

If you use your name on the web, and you're inclined to writing a blog or comment on others' blogs, etc., you should be aware that some employers will judge you based on the quality of your thought, the quality of your writing, and the quality of your spelling.

This is more important for higher level jobs, so if you're looking for professional work, everything you post should be professional looking and sounding.

Your competition may be out there blogging as well, and (assuming other things being roughly equal) if they do it better than you, they get the interview.

Once we get to know someone, we can overlook foibles. But first impressions matter, so be sure of yourself as you post on the internet.

Pro said...

This is how I made a job:

Mike Miller said...

Can Video's hurt me too?? I have done one and uploaded to and applied to some jobs online. So far no responds, so I wondered.


The Constant Complainer said...

First time visitor. You have an interesting blog.

This particular post caught my attention. You're right; it can always be found!

I blog as The Constant Complainer for example, but anyone doing due dilligence could find out who I am, where I live, what domains I have registered, etc.

So the point is - just like you said - be careful people.

As an HR Professional, the first place I look is on Facebook, My Space, other social sites and blogging areas. I can easily locate that stuff, because I blog and know where to look. LOL. But the same should be the case in my own situation too. LOL...

VivaFilipinas! said...

Most people are just careless, they think they can compartmentalize their online persona from their professional lives.