blog.jpgI’m asked often about whether maintaining a blog can help or hinder a career, or job search.

The answer: I don’t know. No one knows for sure, I don’t care what the social media gurus say.

There are so many factors that can go into your decision to blog. That means you have to do your own personal pro-and-con blogging inventory.

Take Eric Zinn.

zinn.jpgThis IT professional from Seattle is on his fourth interview for a director position at a financial data company in Atlanta. He was most recently a manager for Advaiya, Inc., and has been writing a personal blog called Epic Meandering.

Zinn emailed me this week asking:

Is it okay to maintain a personal blog? (I currently write http://www.epicmeandering.com and as such don’t have much of a “filter” on my words or style. I don’t share anything about “work” unless it is in concept only…never any specifics.)

Is it okay to twitter? (I try to keep my feed safe for work but I generally don’t tweet work related things.)

I’d rather not quit blogging or change the character of the blog content (I have a tiny but dedicated audience (<50 people)) BUT I'm happy to give up both blogging and twittering if it could be a career limiting move.

I think it’s great that he’s open to dropping his blog and Twitter for the sake of his career, but such drastic measure may be overkill.

This was my initial response to Zinn:

I’m all about free expression. I hate that we have to be careful with what we do on our own time these days.

That said, what we do on our own time in the social media space, however, can be so public that it has changed the playing field. After a brief look, I don’t see anything in your blog that could hurt your career or your relationship with your direct reports. but you never know how people will take things you write.

If you’re pondering a career change and write about it, your employees may suddenly feel there is no need to work hard for you because you’re a short timer. if you talk about being frustrated, even though you don’t mention your job, some might think its the workplace that has you upset, especially if there was a recent event in the office.

Here’s an example of how something i tweeted was taken totally the wrong way by a neighbor and good friend.

All that said, we all have to become more accustomed to our digital world and the idea that you may come across some personal information about your manager or your subordinates and not let that freak us out.

After a bit of back and fourth with Zinn via email I decided to blog about it and ask all of you what your take is on blogging, or twittering, and how these things might impact your job, especially if you’re a manager.

Again, I think each individual has to look at their own situation.

Zinn should bring this up during his next job interview. It may give him some insight into his potential employer.

We should start taking a stand as employees and try, whenever possible, to be picky about who we work for. If you’re applying for a job with a company that’s uptight about you having your own personal blog you need to know that. It might not be the type of employer you want to toil for.

What do you all think? Should Zinn get rid of his blog? And generally, when is it ever a good idea to blog? If you’re blog is more of a cyber diary you may want to think about buying a real diary and keeping it to yourself.

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