Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To blog... or not to blog... that is the question


P2080106
Originally uploaded by Tidewater Muse.
Rob Darrow asks, "Do blogs help or hinder job prospects?" He comes out in favor:
blogging is a way for a person to share who they are - their beliefs, their ideas, their thoughts and dreams. If postings deal with ones beliefs, ideas, thoughts and dreams, then I think it can only enhance future job prospects. I would hope that people today who are hiring educators in a variety of positions would consider it a plus for a person to have a blog.

On the converse, let’s say an employer reads a possible job applicant’s blog and doesn’t like what he reads? In all jobs, we often talk about a “fit” for the job and the applicant. If the potential employer does not like the applicant’s blog, then the job is not the right fit.

I think a blog is one way of showing a potential employer more about who you are as a person than a resume or letter of application or letters of recommendation.
Mr. Darrow's notion of "fit" is one of my big points. I'm looking for a job, but I don't want to take just any job. I want to work somewhere that is a good fit... and, frankly, if any of my online writings turn off a potential employer, then the school isn't likely going to be a good fit with me and me with it.

Steve Poling at Mr. P's Blog notes,
I don't think the danger is that I will say something controversial and ruin my reputation. I think the danger is in someone on a job search committee misinterpreting something I say in my blog or presume something negative about me because of my blog.
Another in favor, mostly.

And then, Ivan Tribble over at The Chronicle of Higher Education, that set off this string, nukes the whole idea:
What is it with job seekers who also write blogs? Our recent faculty search at Quaint Old College resulted in a number of bloggers among our semifinalists. Those candidates looked good enough on paper to merit a phone interview, after which they were still being seriously considered for an on-campus interview.

That's when the committee took a look at their online activity.

In some cases, a Google search of the candidate's name turned up his or her blog. Other candidates told us about their Web site, even making sure we had the URL so we wouldn't fail to find it. In one case, a candidate had mentioned it in the cover letter. We felt compelled to follow up in each of those instances, and it turned out to be every bit as eye-opening as a train wreck.

Don't get me wrong: Our initial thoughts about blogs were, if anything, positive. It was easy to imagine creative academics carrying their scholarly activity outside the classroom and the narrow audience of print publications into a new venue, one more widely available to the public and a tech-savvy student audience.

We wanted to hire somebody in our stack of finalists, so we gave the same -- or more -- benefit of the doubt to the bloggers as to the others in the pool.

A candidate's blog is more accessible to the search committee than most forms of scholarly output. It can be hard to lay your hands on an obscure journal or book chapter, but the applicant's blog comes up on any computer. Several members of our search committee found the sheer volume of blog entries daunting enough to quit after reading a few. Others persisted into what turned out, in some cases, to be the dank, dark depths of the blogger's tormented soul; in other cases, the far limits of techno-geekdom; and in one case, a cat better off left in the bag.

The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one's unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world? It's not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it's also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.
And it all just spirals down from there.

Well, I'm blogging, and I have been blogging, and it's probably a little late now.

One of the things about blogging that I like is that at least I control the content about me on the web, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Google me, and the stuff you mostly find -- if it's this Peter Stinson and not another Peter Stinson, of which there are several -- I control the content. And if the content is content that turns off a potential employer, my candidacy ought to be squelched; the fit isn't going to work.

Gentle reader, what do you think?

1 comment:

Dr. Delaney Kirk said...

I would agree with you that we do (and should) control the content on our blogs. I caution my students to think about this when putting information out there that in my time would have been written in my diary that came with a key and hidden under the mattress!