Thursday, December 4, 2008

Safe for a while longer

As we sat around at work today nervously awaiting news as to who got laid off, this post on essential steps to take before you're laid off caught my eye.

The advice made sense: figure out how much less you can live on, build your network, build your skills.

And this one: blog under your real name about your profession.

My name is uncommon. If you google my name, you get me and a school nurse. I've been quite reluctant to use my full name on the web: I haven't joined LinkedIn---another thing I'm supposed to do before I get laid off---because it's useless without the personal information and I just don't like the idea of being in another database.

I blog here a bit. I certainly don't take it as seriously as Michael does.

But I hadn't really thought much about blogging about math and editing and education until I read the advice to blog about your profession as part of preparing for a job search. Of course, quilts and origami can fit nicely into the mix.

Blog under my own name. Blog only the things I would want an employer to read. Blog like a professional writer. Blog like my career depends on it rather than as if it might get me fired. Hmm.

You folks, our readers, mostly blog under pseudonyms. What do you think? Privacy vs. name recognition. T'is a puzzlement.


Amy said...

Hey, I'm glad it wasn't you today.

I post to lj entirely about pregnancy and fanfic. Oh, and concerts I've gone to. I cannot imagine having anything to say that would be professionally relevant or appropriate. But then I have trouble coming up with things to say *at work* that are relevant and appropriate. I also never read any blogs that have any work-useful content. I don't even know if there is a labtech blogging community, although I suppose by the law of the internet, there must be. But honestly it sounds sort of boring. What would we do, compare what we keep in our hoods?

tapas said...

If you google my name, you get quite a lot of hits and the top ones (the first several pages in fact) are my work stuff. Many of my scientific publications and a lot of the conferences and workshops I'm involved with have a significant web presence. So I get plenty of web advertising already.

I blog in a forum that isn't associated with my full name so I can talk about food and movies and video games without it showing up when someone is looking for my professional stuff.

Jed said...

I've been out of touch with most of the online world for a while, so I only just heard about the publishing industry meltdown, and particularly about your company. Now that it's a couple weeks later, how are things? I'm sorry to hear about all that -- I knew things were potentially difficult at your company, but I hadn't understood that things would go so badly so soon.

As for blogging: I think that article you linked to puts a little too much emphasis on it. Sure, for people who have lots of professionally relevant and interesting things to say, blogging can serve the purpose of making them look good professionally; but when employers Google a candidate, I suspect most of the time the goal is to make sure the candidate isn't hiding something wildly inappropriate that's likely to come up later and cause problems. I don't think most employers would say "Gosh, you look like a great candidate on paper, you have many years of relevant experience and rave reviews from your colleagues, but I'm afraid since you haven't published interesting blog entries three times a week for the past two years, we just can't hire you."

I can certainly imagine a context wherein two similarly qualified candidates are applying for the same job, and (all else being equal) the one who has a popular and relevant and entertaining blog might potentially have an edge. On the other hand, if the blog is too popular, the blogger might be seen as a potential liability: the employer might worry that they might spend too much work time blogging, or that they might blog about work stuff that shouldn't be made public, or whatever. There's still a lot of distrust of blogs out there in the world.

And if you have one blog under your full name and another under a pseudonym, you may have to be careful to be sure that nobody ever links the two. Even if you don't link them, if someone else does, it may show up in Google.

Another option is to never post anything publicly online, under any name, that you would be embarrassed about your employer knowing about. I more or less try to adhere to that, though I probably have lapses. But a lot of people would be unhappy having to restrict themselves to such topics.