Does blogging make you a better candidate for Microsoft?

Got an e-mail today from someone who asked “As a Recruiter at MS, would it make a difference to you if a candidate you were considering had a personal blog listed in their resume? Would you check out their blog?...Do you ever worry about identity theft? Or someone 'borrowing” your words?”

Fantastic questions actually. As far as I am concerned, as a recruiter, I think the best reason to blog is to be found in the first place since recruiters spend lots of time googling for talent. Beyond that, I guess I'd only be inclined to look at someone's blog that they've listed on their resume is if 1) they are someone I am interested in pursuing and I want to see if there are more details of their work or their strengths on the blog or 2) If there's something in their background that I personal find interesting (which I guess isn't too relevant).

So I would say that if you do decide to include your personal blog link on your resume, here are some “dos and don'ts”. Keep in mind, I am not saying these are general blog rules, but rather guidelines if you choose to include your blog link on your resume:

-DO take the time to write well. I realize that blogs are informal (and I've even noticed some typos on mine that I have declined to fix because that feels like cheating), but just make sure there aren't any glaringly obvious grammar or spelling rules that you make over. This is especially the case if strong communication skills are a requirement of the positions in which you are interested (take that, grammar police!).

-DON'T include super controversial topics. In general, this could give an employer the impression that you would bring that controversy to work and that is counterproductive. We do expect people to have interests and stuff going on outside of work, so in general, I think blogs are a great place to air your opinions on whatever...but just not when you are linking it to your resume.

-DO show the human side. A resume doesn't give us a really good idea of who you are as a person. And we are looking to hire a real-live person, not just a resume. Hobbies and interests, your travel journal, pictures of your pet or child(ren)...all stuff I think is A-OK to include. You may want to think twice about including things like pictures from your bachelor party or the moldy thing growing in the back of your refrigerator (I think you get my point here).

-DO include details of work projects, continuing education, etc. If the resume is the teaser that gets us interested in your background, your blog can provide some additional details. Don't provide anything that could be considered a breach of any confidentiality (or other agreements) you have signed or shows any lack of loyalty for previous employers. I would say in this regard, avoid the temptation to cut and paste anything from any work product you have completed in the past. Just use the blog to describe your work in more detail.

-DO have an opinion. Especially when it comes to the field in which you work, express yourself. Think there's something Microsoft could do to improve a product you use? We won't hold it against you if we see it on your blog. In fact, we may even thank you for sharing your opinion with us!

-DON'T use your blog to document the questions you were asked during your Microsoft interviews. I think it's all fine and good to discuss the idea of puzzle questions, what they are, why they are used, etc., but I would really discourage you from posting any information that could assist someone in bluffing their way through some interview questions. We mix up the questions pretty well anyway, but there's something about posting them online that may be perceived as being a little shady and probably won't reflect too well on you as a candidate (just my opinion here).

-DO blog regularly and during non-business hours. If your blog is not part of your job, keep in mind that your blog style could actually suggest some things about you that you had not intended. If you start a blog and then let it sit, employers could see that as a lack of commitment to your blog and wonder why the heck you would include the link on your resume anyway and whether you would exhibit the same lack of commitment to work projects as well.  Also, we have had some conversation here about those folks out there that have full-time jobs but somehow seem to publish a significant volume of posts during the day. Employers could see that as concerning specifically with regard to work ethic. I guess we just wonder whether, if we hired you, you would spend a bunch of your time at Microsoft doing personal blogging (keep in mind that my blog is part of my job and I am also not looking to make a career change right now, so I am not being a total hypocrite). <I also wonder whether you are supposed to include a question mark at the end of a rhetorical question.>

Ultimately, by including a link to your blog on your resume, you are extending your resume to include your blog content. Show us who you are and how you think, but don't show us everything.  If your blog content is in line with how you wish to be viewed by a potential employer, then do it. Maybe you think about having a professional blog and a personal blog that are separate.

As far as identity theft or someone borrowing my words, I guess I just keep in mind that anything I post here can be borrowed. Blogging is a pretty open medium and as long as someone links back or gives me credit for my opinions and info, it's cool with me. Since it's really impossible to know with 100% certainty who the person behind the blog or comment post is, I have not been too concerned with someone trying to pass themselves off as me. I figure if they do that, it would be to post something controversial and I would find out about it anyway.

Trust me, I understand the hesitancy to step into the blogging world. It took me a few days of blogging before I was willing to tell people what my last name was (hence the odd blog url...leigh is not my last name). I got over it though and have had a really positive experience doing it. So far, it's all good.

Comments (22)

  1. Interesting. I have also seen concerns about blogs from the security perspective. You hinted on this above:


    Don’t provide anything that could be considered a breach of any confidentiality (or other agreements) you have signed or shows any lack of loyalty for previous employers.


    I would make it bolder:

    – DON’T tell everything about your work environment, including product secrets, technologies, etc. that could be used to compromise your employer.

    Should be obvious, but a good reminder.

  2. Good post Heather. I’ve always worried about including my blog. Ultimately I do it because it does speak of me. But, for recruiters who don’t understand that blogs are a snapshot in time it can be an… Interesting way of evaluating someone.

    It’s not like your’e seeing all the dozens of articles someone’s written. It’s more like you’re (often) reading a professional and personal diary in one. And that can be dangerous information to have out in the open.

    I’ve had several job opportunities fall through because people have read my blog and didn’t like how open I was with ideas or struggles or achievements. At the same time, I’ve had many more open up because of blogging.

    I won’t stop, but I am always nervous when someone says they’ve read my blog 😉

  3. Good and clear post. Don’t include your blog in resume if you are not stupid – it is obvious.

    But I didn’t like the following: If you write A this means B, if you write C it means D and E and if you write it in the business hours it means F and H. Looks like electric board. I saw triggers and switches in my mind. Who cares ? Write anything you want in your blog, just don’t link to it from resume.

  4. Chris Sells says:

    Yikes. I guess this page [1] didn’t do me any good then did it, Heather? Likewise with this picture [2]. I must’ve just squeaked by… : )

    BTW, Jeremy, I’m with you re: "I am always nervous when someone says they’ve read my blog." Being brand new to MS at the time and at the bottom of the management chain, I was quite taken aback when an infamous Sr. VP responded with "I’ve read your blog" when I introduced myself.



  5. Heather says:

    Chris-we consider you a category unto yourself anyway ; ) By the way, I did see the photo, but long after you were hired! I showed it to Zoe and we got a chuckle out of it…I hope that’s the reaction you were going for ; ) I guess I’m kind of relieved that I don’t have anywhere to host pictures on my blog. I could never compete!

    So my advice/recommendations don’t hold true 100% of the time for all people. Frankly, as much as we all want to be like Chris and Scoble (with all the fans and followers that come with the visibility) we aren’t.

    The advice just applied to us mortals. Unfortunately, now I can’t even link to my blog on resume because Chris gave the url of his centerfold ; )

  6. Anonymous says:

    John Dowdell at Macromedia

  7. Anonymous says:

    Lenn takes me to task…

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jim at Smithwise

  9. Heather says:

    Reading through posts from some referrers, I just wanted to make sure that it is understood that I do think people should blog about whatever they want (unless it’s not illegal to do so or causes serious physical injury to others; you get my point).

    The question is not whether to blog about these things, it is whether to provide the link on your resume. As a recruiter, I don’t search for blogs of people that I am interviewing as a regular exercise. But if the candidate provides a link on their resume I will check it out because I assume that it has some relvance to their skills or professional background since that’s kind of the point of a resume. I have not seen inclusion of blog links on resumes as a practice yet, but I suspect it’s not that far away. If you have stuff on your blog that you think could offend the recruiter or somehow suggest that you are less than a model employee, still blog about it if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend including it on your resume.

    It’s more a question of one’s judgement in providing the link on the resume than of the person blogging about the topic in the first place.

  10. JD on MX says:

    Blogs and job search: I’m guessing that many reading this either have their own blogs, or had one, or have thought about it. One of the Microsoft recruiting staff suggests ways that a blog might affect a subsequent job search….

  11. lenn® says:


    Thanks for your response in my comments. I really appreciate your perspective and hope you saw my comments on this post in the positive light that it was intended, which I think you did.

    I worry that the lines will start to get blurred between what is personal blogging and what is work related in the future as companies start to suggest guidelines for their employee bloggers. More than anything, I would hate to see Microsoft get sucked into some sort of negative issue or lawsuit because of a lack of definition of what it means to be "super controversial" on your blog.

    I agree that discretion in blogging is required, some people need to use more common sense even. When a company starts giving advice on blog content and does not carefully define the rules, it is tricky waters as you can see. This is a peeve of mine as you can see 😉

    Either way, thanks for sharing, for answering back, and for being out there. We need more of you at Microsoft and it is especially refreshing to hear from someone who does not write code all day at Microsoft. Keep it up, and realize just how powerful your words are. Scoble and I deal with this daily, welcome to a little slice of our world 😉


  12. Does blogging make you a better candidate for Microsoft? Heather Leigh over at Microsoft has an interesting entry about what you should be careful of when putting your blog on a resume. I think the idea of hiring people based…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Robert Olson agrees

  14. Anonymous says:

    Michael Hagel agrees…

  15. Anonymous says:

    Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter

  16. Anonymous says:

    Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter

  17. The more I read this post, and the more that I think about it, the more I agree with it.

    Blogging is becoming an additional online resume, for better or for worse. I believe it works for the better for the candidate and for the organization. A blog shows the potential employer off work interests, committment to a project, and communication skills.

    In the past, it was said that the completion of a University degree showed a committment to long term goals. I have always agreed with that view. I also agree with the opinion that regular maintenance of a blog shows a committment to achieving goals.

    I think bloggers would make first class employees for any organization. That certainly includes industry leaders and innovators of Microsoft’s stature.

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