Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Friday, September 10, 2004

A couple of people have e-mailed me recently to ask whether I think they should put their weblog address on their resume. Thought I'd throw the question out there and see what people's thoughts are. Here's the essence of what I wrote back:

My advice would be not to mention it in your resume. But not because you're necessarily hiding anything, but because I don't know what benefit you'd get from mentioning it.

But let me give you a better answer than that.

1L year, when I was still new at this blogging thing and didn't really think too much about who was reading, I sent some resumes out for summer jobs, mostly because everyone else was, and I didn't really know what I wanted to do... I posted something like, "I just sent about a dozen resumes to places I'm not sure if I really want to work at." Three days later I got an e-mail from an administrator at one of the places I'd sent my resume to that said, "Thanks for your resume. According to your personal web site, it looks like you don't want to work for us. Best of luck in the future." And the initial reaction was, "oh sh** -- what have I done?" And that lasted about 15 seconds, and I realized that she was being totally fair, and that was totally legitimate, and I shouldn't have written that -- and she had every right to read that and be angry at me. So that was a good lesson to learn -- and a fair way to learn it, since I really didn't want to work there, so... well... okay.

Last year during interviews I wrote a lot of posts about interview season but was pretty careful not to mention any firms specifically, and, really, I never felt particularly tempted to since they're all basically the same and I was talking about the interview process, not the individual firms anyway. I didn't say anything about my weblog, but if it had come up I would have discussed it -- my feeling was that since it's not anonymous, it's not like I can "hide" it anyway. And it's right out there in the open on the Internet -- clearly if I felt I didn't want anyone to find it and link it with me, I'd write anonymously. One lawyer at one firm found it -- he googled me, which he told me he did during the interview. I didn't get an offer from that firm, but I have no reason to believe it had anything to do with the weblog -- the interview with that guy went well; some of the other interviews went less well, so I figure it was those -- plus it wasn't like I got an offer every place I interviewed anyway, so I don't feel like I can put the blame on the weblog.

I'm not trying to make enemies. I hope I've been fair with the stuff I've written about this summer -- I think the firm I was at was a fine firm; I'm just not sure working a law firm generally is what I really want to do. But if I was going to work at a law firm, I'd go back to the one I was at. So it's not like they were evil or anything. I liked a lot of the people, I had a comparable experience to everyone else I've talked to who was anywhere else. But, anyway, over the summer, I know some of the other summer associates were reading my weblog -- and I know at least one of the recruiting people knew about it. Someone mentioned it in front of a partner one day by accident too. So I don't know if the firm really ever even thought about it one way or the other, but it's not like they told me to stop writing or anything like that.

But -- they could have. And I think it would have been totally legitimate for them to tell me they were uncomfortable with it and would rather I not write in it. Because even if I hadn't written anything negative about the firm, the potential was there -- in ten seconds I could decide I didn't like something and post about it and hurt the firm. I wouldn't, at least not by design -- but there would be the potential, and I could totally legitimately see that worrying them. Especially before they knew me -- like in an interview. It's one thing for them to decide halfway into the summer that a weblog is something they didn't like the idea of someone having, and have to personally tell me to stop; but it's a lot easier for them to decide after an interview, before they even know if they like you and trust you as a person, that they shouldn't even take the risk this can come back to hurt them.

I also think there's a difference between an anonymous blog and a non-anonymous one. The anonymous ones, to me, are like people are hiding something to begin with -- that if it's found, people will assume it was anonymous for a reason. So I think firms would be more upset to find those. But still -- I'm not sure there's a good reason to volunteer the information, at least not before they get to know you and see you're not going to use your Internet forum badly. They want people who want to practice law -- the weblog shows you like to write, that you think about stuff... maybe a weblog all about issues of law that you'd be working on... but summer associates and young associates don't really need to "think about the law" so much as just understand what the papers have to say and how to read them... so even then... for a clerkship, probably it could be helpful if the blog is good and substantive, I would guess maybe... but for a firm, I'm not sure.

Just my thoughts. I don't know if there's really a right answer or not.