Saturday, March 07, 2009

Are Potential Employers Finding Me Here?

My wife wonders if university employers have been googling my name and finding my blogs and/or MySpace, Linkedin, and Facebook and are deciding against hiring me because of my political ideas.

Is it possible that universities are discriminating based on politics? Likely?

Why wouldn't they want to hire someone who is pro-gay rights, pro-women's rights, and anti-racist? Why wouldn't they want to hire someone who truly believes in multiculturalism?

Or could it be my free market economics? Or the fact that I am pro-science, and take a scientific approach to my scholarship? Or that, in addition to being a multiculturalist, I also believe in human universals?

Anyone who is coming to this blog and then deciding not to hire me is, at best, acting unethically in my opinion. Certainly, I'm the kind of person who thinks you should be able to hire who you want, but at the same time, why would you want unquestioning unity of thought, either?


LemmusLemmus said...

It may be stupid and narrowminded, but unethical? Especially as you concede that anyone should hire who they want?

At any rate, I know why I blog anonymously.

Troy Camplin said...

I would say it's professionally unethical to refuse to hire someone for reasons outside of the explicit job description. Also, if the purpose of the university is to expose students to as wide a variety of viewpoints as possible, then most humanities departments are not living up to that even remotely. The issue of ethics and what should be legal are two different things.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with you, if you put something out there that is in the public sphere then you have to be prepared accept the consequences. Knowing something about search committees, looking at all available information on the person is fair game. How is looking at public information that you posted unethical? Don't you want more readers for your blog? You can always close you blog, change to an anonymous blogger, or one up their unethicalness by informing them that your not the same person as your blog.

Troy Camplin said...

Obviously I am prepared to accept the consequences, or else I would in fact blog anonymously. However, my positions on economics has nothing to do with my ability to teach people how to write fiction or poetry. If the job description is such that it requires a certain ideology (like if I was trying to work for Cato or the ACLU), then I would expect them to use my politics as a selection criteria. But political questions should not come into play for a position that is apolitical.

Let me ask you this: would it be unethical for a potential employer to not hire someone just because she is a woman, even though she can do the job and is the most qualified? Would it be unethical for a potential employer to not hire someone just because of their race? Religion? Most people would consider such selection criteria to be unethical -- so many do, in fact, that to do so is outright illegal. So why isn't it at least unethical for someone to use my political ideology as a way to select against me?

John said...

Of course they're finding you here--it's the first thing that comes up on Google. And I doubt they're taking the time to appreciate the subtleties of your worldview. I doubt they're consciously demonizing you, either. They're probably thinking that libertarians are on the fringe of politics, and biopoetics is on the fringe of literary studies, and neither have quite gained mainstream credibility or acceptance. You're very opinionated, even strident sometimes, and they're probably thinking, "Unorthodox + confrontational. Hmm... He'll probably be a perfect fit somewhere, but maybe not here."

There's politics and then there's politics. I think you're worried about the first kind, when it's the second kind that's hamstringing your job search. Perhaps you should start sending out fruit baskets and assorted teas along with your C.V.

John said...

Maybe you just need to spruce the place up a bit--a few more pictures, a few more poems, some softer words for the socialist idiots. Try to convey a stronger sense of positivity, vulnerability and open-mindedness. People love that stuff.

Just a suggestion. I like your blog just fine the way it is, but I'll probably end up 900 spaces behind you in the unemployment line for many of the same reasons.

Troy Camplin said...

I'm positive. I'm positively certain the socialists are wrong. :-) Pictures? Hmmm. More bunny rabits and flowers, perhaps? Or go for the gold and throw up some Melina pictures?

I talked to my brother about this, and I said I was in a bit of a catch-22. About half of the places I try to get into should love this stuff. Oddly, I get the feeling it is precisely those people who aren't looking for information about me online.

John Althouse Cohen said...

Richard Chappell has some thoughts about bloggers' fear that their blogging might hurt their chances of getting a job (this was written about academia, but could be applied to any field):

"I take it the idea here is that your half-baked thoughts aren't as impressive as your finished work, so putting the former on display may create a worse overall impression for Hiring Committees. I guess that's possible, but we need to consider (i) how likely it is that HCs would be irrational in this way, and (ii) how this balances against the likelihood that blogging will help you professionally.

"All else equal, I take it, people tend to be more well-disposed towards familiar names and faces, and participating in blog discussions is at least one way to get your name out there. (Compare the professional/networking benefits of attending conferences.) Plus there's always the chance that your thoughts might positively impress.

"Notably, even if your blogging alienates more people than it impresses, base rate considerations suggest that it's still overwhelmingly likely to be beneficial on net. Suppose, for example, that a Hiring Committee checking your blog has a massive 10% chance of being discouraged from hiring you, compared to a 2% chance of being encouraged to hire you when they otherwise wouldn't. The crucial observation is that the base rate is overwhelmingly weighted against hiring you to begin with: let's be optimistic and say that as many as 10% of your job applications will be successful by default. How does blogging change the default chances? Well, 1% (10% of the originally-inclined 10%) will be discouraged from hiring you, and 1.8% (i.e. 2% of the originally disinclined 90%) are shifted in your favour, for a net gain of .8%. So your overall success rate increases from 10% to 10.8%, even given the most unfriendly assumptions. It's easy to see that this happy effect is magnified if we are more pessimistic about our default chances, or less pessimistic about the ratio of impressed- to unimpressed blog readers. Plausibly, then, blogging is more professionally prudent than not. (Though anyone motivated by this reason alone would probably not do a very good job of it!)"