Job hunting, hiring & corporate blogging: Interesting piece in the NYT today regarding the role of weblogs in the hiring process. Read it and what I say next may make more sense.
I’m speaking now as a CEO (which, despite being included on a few “CEO blog aggegrators,” I rarely “speak as” on this weblog).
A few years ago (over three, but still recent enough for the term “weblog” to be known by a few nerdy types), I (and a few readers of this weblog) started another company. [It turned out not to be the best of times to start a company with “dot-com” in its name, but that’s another story way too many people have heard, and lived through.] During my stint away from Hammock Publishing and immersed in that other company, I discovered [and in retrospect, it seems strange that I would be the one to discover it] that an employee was maintaining a weblog.
Now, imagine one of those open (yet funky) loft-like dot-com spaces where 25-or-so people are all sitting behind computers at 6-foot folding tables spread out over a few thousand square feet. Strangely intimate, yet such an environment creates an emotional privacy that only having no walls (even the cubicle kind) makes one understand. And then, imagine that the person who started the company and whose passions, intellect and financial commitment are, how do I put this, over-stretched, discovers that a young employee, in her first real job, is discussing on a weblog her fears of what her company’s prospects are.
This young employee was obsessed with certain schadenfreude-oriented websites devoted to corporate layoffs and failures. Indeed, she became online pals with the founder of one of the better-known death-watch sites. As she never really identified herself or her employer (but one didn’t need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure it out), I never considered asking her to stop. In fact, I doubt she ever knew I was aware of her blog (which, to be honest, was primarily about her online gaming life — for which she appeared to have a “following” of a couple-dozen middle-school fans).
I’m sure if I’d asked, she would have quit making references to her work-specific fears and concerns, but I viewed her blog as a unique way to understand a different perspective of what I was going through in my own life and work. Why would I want to cut that off if I didn’t feel it was having a direct, negative impact on the company? (Let’s say, we, like so many other companies at the time, were being buffeted by gale-force winds and this employee’s weblog was not even on the list of top-100 things I needed to worry about.)
If she had been revealing any business secrets or threats, I may have felt different, but she was sharing personal fears and hopes and wishes that I found encouraging (she liked her colleagues and what the company was committed to) and frankly could relate to (she feared what was happening to other companies would soon happen to hers).
Ultimately, I had to lay her off. Ultimately, I had to lay myself off, also. But I guess the experience helped to influence my early understanding of blogging.
Recently, I’ve started noticing some bloggers I (what’s the term? “follow” “subscribe to”) listen to are going through the process of career beginning, changing or pondering. Some are doing so publicly, while others are being more discreet.
One young blogger I discovered through my nascient interest in podcasting, Tim Germer, is just starting out but I believe his blogging and podcasting should help convince a wise corporate communications or marketing executive in the Northwest or Santa Monica (see, I even know where he’s job-searching) recruit him to help figure out how to use blogging and podcasting to better engage in conversations with employees and customers.
Another blogger I enjoy reading (except for his Kerry posts 😉 ), is Russell Beattie, who is openingly blogging his departure from a company and his entrepreneurial journey to the next opportunity.
Another blogger I follow, Hugh McLeod (gapingvoid.com), is writing a book and pitching it on his blog. By the way, Hugh, despite his proclivity for resorting to the f-word as a crutch for “I want to say something clever yet shocking here” provides some of the most insightful management and marketing ideas I encounter each day.
I agree with the NYT reporter. Weblogs provide “outsiders” with a unique insight into a company’s psyche. And weblogs provide a means for a company to peer past the surface of job seekers.
Interesting development to follow.
rexblog bumper music: Getting to Know You (Fred Hersch)