A recent article expresses disbelief that bloggers would risk their employment prospects by divulging information about themselves on the Internet. I express disbelief at this disbelief.
"Well, we were going to hire you for the position, but then we read your blog."
Yesterday I read a discouraging article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about the influence of a person's blog on their prospects for getting a job.
It's routine in these times for employers to use Internet search engines to get some more information about job applicants. In this article, there are several examples given of how a person's blog tanked any chance they had of getting the job they applied for.
The tone of the article is, "How can you be so stupid, blogger?"
The particular examples given are pretty petty, and surely shortsighted. This committee did not hire a person because he seemed on his blog to be too interested in computers, and the committee worried that he might therefore take off for a job in that area as soon as one became available.
Huh? Not hiring someone because they have a hobby?
These human resource folks are making a serious error, which is to assume that the unknown evil is better than the known one. The candidates who don't have blogs have hobbies and unusual views about things too, and I bet they even swear sometimes. They put their pants on one leg at a time, they just don't tell anyone about it. HR doesn't know about it, because those candidates don't have blogs.
If you've ever been involved in hiring anyone for anything, you know that the practice is mostly arbitrary. When done on a large scale, the people doing the hiring are often floundering, looking for any acceptable reason to differentiate some of the candidates from the others. So, they latch on to things like this.
Apparently the best person for the job is the one who gives the least information about themselves. The ideal candidate will take it to the next level, actively covering up all information about themselves that exists on the Internet. In order to get the job, you must not let HR know anything beyond what is on your resume and what they extract during the interview(s). You may have an "Interests" line on your resume, but just say something quaintly impressive and unrelated to future employment prospects, like, "Martial arts."
How will I deal with this? First, make sure I don't say things I later regret on the Internet. That's not a bad principle for life anyway.
Second, I'll probably just avoid talking about work, because that's a general thing any employer might be wary of --- if you've complained about your past jobs over the airwaves, then you'll probably complain about this one too. I like my job anyway.
Third, only apply for work where people understand that people are people, who are capable of behaving themselves just fine at work despite what they may think or do outside the office. Better yet, apply for work at places who consider this practice of technologically enhanced communication and social-network community building to be a skill, worth practicing.
Here's a couple of random resources to see who's got dirt/information on you:
And more scary PI resources can be found on del.icio.us.