Monday, December 05, 2005

Dear Abby v. Bloggers

Dear Abby is something which I read because it's in the newspaper. Truth be told, I prefer Miss Manners, or even Ann Landers, to Dear Abby, but it's there. Sometimes it's even entertaining -- in a morbid sort of way -- though her answers have gotten even less impressive since the generational change. Imagine my surprise when she addressed a topic near and dear to my heart: Blogging!

Well, being a short-sighted stick in the mud, as usual, she's against it. Not against it, as such, but against doing anything fun with it:
DEAR ABBY: Please warn your readers that their Web pages and blogs could stand in the way of securing a job! Just as employers have learned to read e-mail and blogs, they have learned to screen candidates through their sites. Many people in their 20s and 30s wrongly believe their creations are entertaining and informative. Employers are not seeking political activists, evangelizers, whiners or tattletales. They do not want to find themselves facing a lawsuit or on the front page of a newspaper because a client, patient or parent of a student discovered a comment written by an employee.
The job market is tight, and job seekers must remember their computer skills can either help them land a position or destroy a job prospect. -- CHICAGO EMPLOYER

DEAR EMPLOYER: You have opened up a line of thought I'll bet a lot of job applicants -- and future job applicants -- have never considered. Googling a name isn't difficult, and it could lead to an applicant's blog. Most bloggers write to be read, and invite people to comment. Thank you for the reminder that those who blog should remember that they are open to public scrutiny, and that if they apply for a job, everything about them will be considered -- including their blog. Prospective employers are certainly within their rights to make decisions based upon what they read.
Obviously, blogging anonymously never occurred to either "Chicago Employer" or "Dear Abby"....

Seriously, though, an employer who knows that it's legal to discriminate on the basis of religion, politics and personal attitude should also know that employers aren't really liable for the non-professional free speech exercises of their employees. If you want to respond, here's her online form!

Update: On the other hand, blogging professionally can be very productive, at least in the sciences.