Monday, February 25, 2008

See My Blog For References

Over the last few weeks of this course, we’ve picked up some snazzy lingo about social networking: crowd-sourcing, communities of practice, conversational marketing, and so on. But are you familiar with the term “dooced?” Apparently, the dangers of blogging on the job have warranted the creation of a whole new word:

Dooced: To lose one’s job because of one’s website.

The origin of the term is somewhat convoluted, but the basic idea is that a woman got fired from her job for writing stories about coworkers on her blog, We’re all familiar with this phenomenon (think Jessica Cutler of Washingtonienne fame, or Mark Jen’s Google scandal), so it makes sense to have a word describing it. But what about blogging even before you’ve secured the job? Could it win you gold stars in a fiercely competitive job market? Or could it become the barrier between you and that coveted corner office?

According to Joshua Porter, “the blog is the new resume.” Advocates claim that given two identical candidates, the one who includes a blog address on his resume is more likely to win the position. I can see how this could work. Employers receive hundreds of resumes for various positions, so any means to stand out from the crowd should be utilized. However, considering the questionable quality of many blogs, I wonder if this is in fact an appropriate strategy. As graduate students who may not have grown up using the internet from a young age, we’re probably a bit more cognizant of what is and isn’t appropriate – and thus more reticent about what we post online – than the high school/college crowd. For example, teenagers accustomed to using the internet from the age of three tend to be more comfortable posting intimate, personal information on photo-sharing sites, Facebook, Myspace, and the like. In fact, the issue of unrestrained internet-use by teens has received considerable media attention in recent years. In a perfect world, teens and tweens would curb their virtual showboating, or at least step up efforts to delineate public vs. private information. However, how many 14 year olds really think about future career prospects beyond vague notions of wanting to be a doctor or lawyer? I would venture to say that very few consider the day when a hiring decision might rest on information gathered from a Google search or Facebook profile. And unless great pains are taken to delete or privatize blog posts, those diary-like entries could come back to haunt them.

Even for those of us who do practice caution, what exactly do blogs tell an employer about a person? Mine would inform someone of my status as a grad student, the fact that I took a course on social networking, and that I’m able to string words into sentences. But my writing here is hardly exemplary; I’d much rather submit a formal paper as a writing sample. If your blog highlights quantifiable skills and is somehow directly related to the position you seek, I would certainly consider it a resume-boosting tactic. But if your employable “skills” resemble that of Joey’s, blog with care…


Olu said...

I have been really thinking about this more and more lately. If employers really start looking to see what you post on your free time as an indicator of whether or not they will give you a job, I think that is some form of discrimination. Reading someones blog and passing a judgment against them for the content could possibly lead to a discrimination suit. What if the person is qualified for the position and they ask why they was not hired, you definitely cannot say it is due to your blog. But I guess if you add your blog address to your resume you are opening yourself to allowing potential employers to learn about some of your views whether it deals with politics or religion.

Also, if that is the case will people start possibly copying other peoples blogs or just make up things to try to make them look like a better candidate. Kind of like what people do when they submit their resumes now. I guess it is just another crafty way to differentiate your resume from everyone else.

Javaid said...

Your point about knowing what to disclose on the web is really important because the younger generation of today may regret some of the content that they have chosen to make available for the entire world to see. The consequences of adding stupid and possibly career limiting content are serious. There's no 'undo' button available when it comes to Google. Heck, Google even caches old versions of web pages and you can get to those versions by clicking on the 'Cached' link under your search result. Since disk space is cheap, one has to be really careful about what they choose to disclose online because there's always a chance that it may be around long after one's career is over!