Don’t Blog If You Want Work

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article in its “First Person” section called, “Bloggers Need Not Apply.” In it the author warns that if you want a job, don’t blog.

Ironically, the author is publishing his personal opinion and experiences under a pseudonym online. Perhaps, since he’s not publishing in reverse chronological order, he’s safe from censure. His bio line is not suprising: “Ivan Tribble is the pseudonym of a humanities professor at a small liberal-arts college in the Midwest.” (muffled report of a self-inflicted gunshot wound…)

“Don’t get me wrong: Our initial thoughts about blogs were, if anything, positive,” he says. I bet. He continues: “The pertinent question for bloggers is simply, Why? What is the purpose of broadcasting one’s unfiltered thoughts to the whole wired world?” Now, of course, to bloggers this is not the pertinent question, it’s the least pertinent. But it does give a window into the mind of the kind of people who wind up on hiring committees and harmonizes nicely with his initial condescension.

For bloggers, the most important thing the author says is this: “…it’s best for job seekers to leave their personal lives mostly out of the interview process. ” That, sadly, is the truth. Unfortunately for some of us, it’s a truth we’ve been slow to learn.

“The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself,” continues the author. “Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum. ”

(Just as the fact that a candidate has never beaten a coworker about the head and shoulders with a salami is no guarantee he won’t do so tomorrow, I suppose.)

Eventually, blogs (now up to 12 million, according to the blog search engine Technorati) may come to be accepted in the same way that “web sites” are now (and weren’t before). But for now, a blog is a liability. I may wind up deleting mine, even though it has provided me an editorial freedom that has been personally liberating. But liberty is encouraged most, I think, when it remains safely abstract. On a bumper sticker, for instance, or as a reason for war.

(Ugh. That last bit was nearly smug enough to qualify me as a pseudonymous author for The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

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