Here is something that I’ve been pondering about quite a bit recently. A few years ago it was all bad news for bloggers who have jobs. Getting sacked because of your blog stuck fear into so many that it the concept even spawned its own word: dooce.

People who have been dooced are not in short supply. There was Joe Gordon who wrote unflattering things about his employers. Rather more unfairly there was Petite Anglaise, who was seemingly sacked for merely existing. Or something. And of course there is Heather Armstrong.

Because of all this, there is a bit of a fear about employers discovering your blog. I guess that is a bit old-fashioned now. More salient is the issue of MySpace and Facebook accounts being discovered. Blogs must seem relatively benign compared to some MySpace profiles.

Nevertheless, there is still a bit of a dilemma. What do you do if you are a blogger who is hunting for a job? I am getting to the stage where I am starting to think seriously about this issue. By this time next year I am supposed to have graduated and be doing a proper job. I now have to contend with the fact that large swathes of my personal life and opinions are out there in the open.

I’m not upset or angry about that. I was always aware that it would be the case. But it’s an interesting problem to tackle. It is pretty much accepted that nowadays employers will Google job candidates as a basic check.

True, you could blog anonymously. But I let that cat out of the bag years ago. Anyone searching for my name will find my website, this blog and my accounts for Bebo, Jaiku and Twitter — all on the first page of results.

Thankfully, while the general advice to blogging workers a few years ago was to keep it under your hat, nowadays I am seeing more and more people saying that having a blog is actually a boost to your career prospects. I am still not entirely convinced. Sitting in a Web 2.0 bubble, it is easy to say that blogging is great. But in my day-to-day life I still feel as though blogging is something that many people scoff at.

I mean, it is probably fair to say that blogging is a hobby for me. And hobbies are generally spoddy, right? Trainspotting, stamp collecting, fishing. It’s okay to be a nerd if it’s a hobby. Yet I would probably still be more comfortable listing ‘philately’ as a hobby than ‘blogging’. If somebody asks me what I did last night I will usually say, “Oh, nothing really. Just relaxed a bit.” But in reality I probably spent three hours blogging.

That is not because I am ashamed of my blog. Far from it. But the fact is that if I was to say to somebody that one of my biggest achievements was my blog, people would think I was the most utterly lame person alive. “Oh, you’ve got a blog? I had one of them once. So, who reads your blog? Your mum?”

The unfortunate fact is that for most people out there, a blogger is at best a wannabe writer who is not talented enough to be a professional. At worst, a blogger is a rambling, incoherent, narcissistic teenager.

The crux of the matter is this. You and I know that blogging can be a pretty worthwhile activity. But what does the person reading my CV think?

It could go either way I guess. I am in a hairy situation because my CV is rather bare. And as excellent as my current workplace is, I am guessing that it will take a bit more than filling shelves to impress potential employers.

The truth is that blogging probably is one of my better achievements. It has certainly been my main extracurricular activity over the past few years. So I think I will throw caution to the wind and stick it on my CV. After all, chances are that they will find it via Google anyway. I am also convinced that my years of blogging has given me lots of skills. That is actual skills, not M4D 5K1LL5.

Rhys Wynne has blogged about the skills that he has gained from blogging. And, via Rhys Wynne, I have also found this list of useful skills that bloggers have.

I mostly agree with them. I will explain why tomorrow.

Update: I have now posted the list here.

13 comments

  1. Thanks for the linky love!

    I didn’t really talk about it on my blog, but my current employers employed me because of the fact I blogged. I rarely talk about my job purely because it was so easy to find, and have only once got my fingers rapped for something I did online (which I disagree with from an SEO point of view).

    Of course, it’s not for everybody, but quality blogs should be added to your CV.

  2. I think a blog could enhance your job prospects (I say as a naive student, who’s never had to get a proper job). I’m not sure what line of work you want to go into, but I imagine if its something media-related that being able to explain that your work has received x amount of attention from the mainstream media would look excellent on a CV.

  3. Put your blog up if it’s relevant to what you want to do, and you think it reflects well on you.

    As for hiding things, I just try to maintain a level of “dignity” on sites where I use my real name. I have a different blog (actually a blog and a tumblog) where I use my real name and talk more about computing stuff (although I very rarely update them).

    I don’t think I’d come across too badly where I use zootm, but I do swear a little too much so I try to put up an “artificial” separation between the two. I think the most important thing to remember is that in general the internet is a public medium unless you specifically tell it not to be, and if you don’t want employers or potential employers to see what you’re writing you’d better hide the stuff or dissociate your handle with what you write.

    I’m currently jobhunting (for the second time this year – woo!) and I don’t pay it too much mind, though. I’m sure there’s dirt there if you’re willing to dig, but in most cases it’s pretty trivial.

  4. Ah, Joe Gordon: it was his case that started me blogging, back in 2005. He drinks in my favourite pub, Cloisters, from time to time and has often given me some good book recommendations…

    DK

  5. I agree with most of the points above. Obviously if your blog is a pile of ranty shit then it is probably not a great idea to put it on your CV.

    I don’t necessarily think that having a blog would be good only if you wanted a media-related job (although that is an obvious area). I’ve been writing a whole list of skills that blogging has demonstrated and helped me improve. The only reason I haven’t included it on this post is because it is so bloody long!

    As for the issue of what is wise to say on a blog (or the internet in general) or not, I have had a little rule in my head for a few years. I only write something on my blog if I would be prepared to write the same thing on a billboard on the street. It’s easy to think that your blog is hidden away, but it’s not really. Unless you are really good at keeping your anonymity, people will find it.

  6. I’m setting up a ‘blog’ for my current main employer-we’re a marketing firm and publish a small monthly trade magazine, so we’re going to run the site using WordPress. I’m also building blog solutions for a couple different clients, in some cases they wanted a ‘blog’, in others they just want a simple site that they can add content to easily and have a news feed.

    I don’t put that I ‘blog’ on my CV, but I do tailor it to a potential employer, and normally list a few key skills I’ve picked up from blogging–it was those skills that got me my main job over the other applicants. SEO, usability, content management, editing, proofreading, writing. All good to have.

    One client was also impressed I was top google result for tony blair murderous bastard. Plus I’m also top result for my name, and I’mv ery happy with the results that come out under it as well, so anyone snooping finds public me, which is good.

  7. >Obviously if your blog is a pile of ranty shit then it is probably not a great idea to put it on your CV.

    If it is in your name, then they will ask you why it is *not* on your cv. What are you hiding?

    Two points:

    Rather obviously, the best option would have been to think about that before you started (as you say). I cover this (plug) in my article in Iain Dale’s book.

    However, I suggest tailoring that section of your cv with each application, along with all the other sections. I’d go for three options, depending on employer. In your case you can choose to emphasise this blog or the scottish roundup (which demonstrates successful management of virtual teams and media experience – as of last week).

    1 – Emphasise the blog as key in your skills summary.
    2 – Include it , but not on the front page.
    3 – Don’t include it but be prepared to explain why.

    I don’t see either of your blogs as embarrassing, unless you apply to FoE (Motor racing).

    I’d also make it clear that you will withdraw the obvious namecheck on the blog if they require, and will be sincere about not blogging about work or violating your contract, but that you are not prepared to stop blogging (unless you are). And that you run 2 out of the top blogs in the world/UK/in Scotland.

    Once you choose a policy, stick to it unless you have major reason not to.

    Matt

  8. If it is in your name, then they will ask you why it is *not* on your cv. What are you hiding?

    That it is none of their concern, perhaps?

    My blog is not on my CV and have no plans to include it. Nor, for that matter am I prepared to explain why – beyond that it is nothing to do with work, just as my other extra curricular activities are nothing to do with employers.

    What I do outside of work remains there. If employers wanted to look at my blog, they can. If they try to pry into my outside work activities or seek explanations as to why I do not mention it, they would be reminded of the firewall I keep between the two.

  9. It does depend on your profession I suppose. In marketing, advertising, New Media, or Politics, I would say it was a plus.

    If it was in public services such as Education, Police or Health, I’ll bet your prospective employees might be slightly more twitchy.

  10. [...] is a question posed by Doctor Vee yesterday and picked up by the Devil’s [...]

  11. I think yes, you should put your blog on your CV, of course if it is good
    one and intresting

  12. My blog is not on my CV, largely due to a lack of space. I do mention that I co-admin a forum though.

  13. I think blogging can help – but only in certain industries, e.g. media and communications, comedy, social stuff.. but not really accountancy or banking.