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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Repost: Job Blogging - Is It Safe?

Back in the ancient days before the omnipresence of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, I started this blog with the dual intentions of writing about my job search and my photography hobby. This was around February of 2006. Shortly thereafter I found a job and other things to write about. Unfortunately the economic downturn and high cost of health insurance put me back on the job market in 2009. But one of my very first posts in this blog was "Job Blogging - Is it Safe?"

This morning I came across an interesting article in Net-Temps' latest issue of their CrossRoads newsletter entitled How Social Media is Muddying the Waters for Job Seekers by Teena Rose. In the article she mentions a recent survey of hiring managers commissioned by Microsoft that reports 70% of  U.S. respondents have rejected a candidate based on their online social profiles.

Hmmm ... Well, I'm not saying that I'm a prophet or a visionary or anything like that - actually my view back then on the potential of social media was a trifle more optimistic, but any tone of smugness detected here IS intentional- ha! :) Anyway, I thought it might be appropriate to revisit my thoughts on the subject back then. So here they are - probably in need of some modification in light of how social media and its use is unfolding:

The internet although widely used is still relatively uncharted territory for employees and employers. Exploring the unknown does carry some risk and this understandably makes people nervous.

For example. I am not and never have been a prospective employer so I am just imagining the following scenario:

Suppose you are an employer interviewing a prospective employee who tells you they are a blogger. Does this information make you worry about issues such as discretion and confidentiality and liability, not to mention "too much information" - ie) inadvertantly showing your hand to competitors or letting trade secrets slip out onto the internet? You may ask yourself, will this prospective employee be discreet and use good judgement? Is it even worth the risk?

These are real concerns. I remember a couple of years ago when I was working retail at our local mall. Our employer, a major retailer, told us to watch our conversations when we walked through the mall - particularly they didn't want other competitors to know too far ahead about upcoming promotions and sales. Now, carry that concern over to the internet and you can begin to see the problem ...

Moving on to the other perspective, that of the interviewee, say me, for instance, who in turn may be thinking ...

They asked me to bring a sample of my writing/web work. Should I even tell them about my blog? Will they trust me or will that make them nervous? I did write about cutting back on the job search while my husband recovered from open heart surgery - will they look elsewhere because I sound like I'm too old and too much of an insurance risk?

These worries are not so far-fetched - or are they? Faced with the unknown, one can't help but wonder...

But let's move to the other side of the balance sheet and consider some of the benefits of job-blogging.

It does allow you the blogger to offer another opportunity for prospective employers to get to know you under more candid circumstances than the formal interview. Certainly it gives employers a chance to observe you over a greater period of time. Also, a job blog can offer another source of information to employers to balance out the background checks and references and recommendations from previous employers. It certainly gives you an opportunity to answer and be heard. To have a voice.

Finally, because of the social nature of blogging and other online communication tools, you can offer employers the opportunity to see you at your best and at your worst when it comes to dealing with other people. Now what prospective employer wouldn't love to see that? :)

To employers I would say that because the internet is uncharted territory, we need people who are willing to get out there and explore and break new ground. So perhaps it's worth the risk? To those worried about trust issues, I would say that inherent in democracy is the belief that people are able to self-regulate and indeed function best that way. However, this also suggests that education, accountability, responsibility, and ethics should play a major role in a free society.

So ... to job blog or not to job blog?

Well, I'm not done with this topic but I am done with this post (for now at least). Can any of you think of additional risks and benefits of job blogging? I'd love to hear your perspective. In the meantime, happy Job-Hunting. It's a jungle out there! :)

JuneBug

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