Blogs and the Job Search: The passion, the shame, the irony

The blogosphere has been up in arms recently about Ivan Tribble’s column in the Chronicle of Higher-Ed “advising job applicants not to blog”:http://chronicle.com/jobs/2005/07/2005070801c.htm. Entitled “Bloggers Need Not Apply” Tribble’s piece was quickly cut into very small pieces by the academic blogosphere in an episode that demonstrated true power of peer review at the same time that it underscored the way the hiring process has a chilling effect on speech.

Now the Chronicle is, believe it or not, looking for columnists to document their job search. The ad I got via email reads:

The Chronicle’s Careers section is looking for graduate students, faculty members, and administrators who will be on the job market in the 2005-6 academic year and would be interested in keeping a diary of their job search. Since 1998, we’ve featured the job-market stories of academics in a variety of disciplines. They’ve written regular, first-person accounts throughout the year of their attempts to find a faculty or administrative job in academe, and in a few cases, a nonacademic job… If you have a flair for writing, here’s an opportunity to use it and get paid. We select about 10 diarists a year; each writes three to four columns over the course of the year about his or her job search. Besides doctoral students and Ph.D.’s who are looking for their first tenure-track job, we welcome submissions from other academics who plan to spend this year hunting for a new position, including adjunct faculty members, professors already tenured or on the tenure track, and administrators. If you are part of a dual-career academic couple, you are welcome to write a diary together.

The Chron has been running these diaries for the better part of a decade, of course. But the irony of advertising for people to blog their job search immediately after running a column about what a bad idea it is truly amazes me. Unless, of course, a column is ok but a blog is not. In which case I’m going to rename my personal blog ‘Golucolumn’.

Rex

Alex Golub is an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. His book Leviathans at The Gold Mine has been published by Duke University Press. You can contact him at rex@savageminds.org

7 thoughts on “Blogs and the Job Search: The passion, the shame, the irony

  1. One reason it might be worth considering doing — the irony of the offer aside — is to correct the awful imbalance of the job-search process. Hiring departments and job search committees often radiate a satisfied glow of despotic power that is utterly maddening. Whoever takes up the Chronicle’s call, I hope they use the opportunity to offer a salutary reminder to their academic audience that today’s lowly-worm applicants at particular institutions will, in many instances, become tomorrow’s esteemed colleagues across the discipline. From my own job search experiences, I have quite the list of memorable impressions of departments and individuals: some highly favorable, some definitely not so. It’s amazing how often the intoxicating “off with their heads!” experience of being a decision-maker in today’s tight market produces as an accompaniment a complete inability to think about a future shared with junior colleagues possessed of long memories.

  2. It’s not ironic. The Chron’s job search columns are pseudonymous, and the point of the article was not that blogging was bad for job searchers, but rather the foolish act of revealing personal information in your blog and then letting a search committee know about it.

  3. This passage from the Ivan Tribble article is, I think, an indictment of blogging as a whole, not just a gentle suggestion to refrain from divulging personal info:

    The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. 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.

  4. Rakehell: I agree that exhibitionist bloggers deserve little sympathy when the chickens come home to roost (and btw, the Chron is allowing, but not _requiring_, pseudonyms) but Tribble’s argument is not that the foolish act of revealing personal information in your blog is bad, but that having a blog is _in and of itself a bad thing_. As he put it:

    The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. 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.

    I agree with Ozma that despite these dangers, it’s a soap box worth jumping on for all the reasons she outlines. I would apply to write a column if I was involve in a traditional job hunt, but my own circumstances are a little complicated atm.

  5. Whatever happened to prudence? I blog about ideas and research: things I want to say to interested members of the public, and would be happy saying to a committee.

    G-d only knows there’s enough griping and sniping in the world anyway without adding to it: that stuff will eventually dry up and blow away. The ideas will remain.

  6. jeepers — I find the human side of blogging rather heartening. If the world of blogging were an entirely prudent universe, it would be too boring to visit!

  7. I agree with you Ozma (not that I’ve been actively blogging these days . . . life has kind of “happened” recently and kept me away from the PC for long enough periods . . .I’ll be back though!

    RE: prudence. The reason I agreed to come and blog was that it appeared to me to be a nifty intermediate between strictly academic writing (which can be a tad on the cold side at times) and writing an email to a mailing list. One needs to put thought behind the writing but it can have a more casual tone . . . it’s also an opportunity to go out on a limb, throw ideas around and see what kinds of reactions they get.

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