65

Since the FCC repealed the net neutrality rules on the US, telecom companies in emerging countries are preparing to pressure politicians to do the same. I happen to live in an emerging country, and in advance to the proposals, I'm planning to start a campaign to warn people and explain the situation, basically my country's version of this site: https://www.battleforthenet.com/

But I'm worried that this can have repercussions in my career. I don't plan on working in telecom companies, but I've heard (not from trustable sources, sadly, so this is at best speculation) that online activism can leave a bad impression on recruiters.

If I ever start this campaign and it turns out to be successful, will it hurt my employability (from a web developer perspective)?

EDIT:

The duplicate candidate specifically states bad online activity. Campaigning for net neutrality is hardly directly bad, that is mostly opinion based. I don't think the linked question chosen answer is a valid solution to my question.

  • 13
    This seems mostly opinion-based - we can't really tell you whether some future potential employer (or recruiter) will view this positively or negatively (it also obviously depends on how easy it would be to find out about this campaign when searching for your name). – Dukeling Dec 18 '17 at 13:05
  • 2
    @Dukeling I disagree as the most voted answer adresses a lot of valid points, despite saying that it's impossible to predict recruiters behavior. I think it's a solid answer, I'm just waiting the standard 24 hours so people in different timezones also have the chance to answer. – rschpdr Dec 18 '17 at 13:14
  • 9
    This is exactly why activists often use pseudonyms. – Crazymoomin Dec 18 '17 at 14:38
  • 28
    Supporting net neutrality is about as much en vogue as it's ever going to be in IT circles. If you're not applying for work at telcos it seems unlikely that most technical people would hold that against you, more likely they'd see it as a plus point. I would certainly if I saw it on a resume here. – Voo Dec 18 '17 at 15:40
  • 3
    The Dilbert cartoon illustrates that any employer with half a brain can invent a legal reason to fire you if the real reason is illegal. It also implies something that is not true in USA: that our constitution prohibits the government from suppressing ideas (prohibit does not equal prevent!). Absent other laws, an employer CAN fire you for expressing an opinion detrimental to the business. I am aware of one company that warned publicly of dismissal for making the company look bad on social media. And did so more than once. And this was a “good place to work,” not a draconian sweatshop. – WGroleau Dec 18 '17 at 22:55
109

Can online activism hurt my employability?

Absolutely. But it's largely impossible to predict to what extent. Public activism, whether online or not, can negatively affect your profile as a job candidate. Supporting a controversial topic (such as NAMBLA) would get you rejected from most jobs. Supporting movements with controversial methods (like Antifa) would likewise reflect negatively on you. More broadly, employers might wonder if you're so politically active that it will impact your ability to do your job (or work overtime) or if you'll bring that kind of activism to work with you (by trying to recruit colleagues). And sometimes an employer may simply disagree with your political stance which could cause both conscious or subconscious bias.

Your political activism will simply be another data point that a hiring manager gets to consider. Some will think it's net negative, some will think it's positive. You may lose out on certain jobs that you'd otherwise have been offered and you may find contacts or get offers that you wouldn't have gotten without being publicly active. Most hiring managers won't find out about your activism or won't consider it important.

Generally speaking, if your employment opportunities are few, I would encourage you to err on the side of caution and limit your public activism. But if you have an in-demand profile and if you aren't worried about potentially increasing the time your future job searches could take, there's no reason not to be publicly politically active.

It should also be said that the country and industry you're in does matter when it comes to this. Most "Western" countries and most modern industries (like web development) have grown considerably more progressive and tend to respect the private nature of an employee's off-work activities. Employee protection laws also help in that regard.

Finally, keep in mind that not every hiring manager will be googling his candidates. You should be aware that some do and that your colleagues can also look you up so you want to make sure your online profile is relatively clean, but it's unlikely to come up in every job application.

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about specific organizations, political positions, and events has been moved to chat. Further discussion of these topics in comments will be summarily deleted. – Monica Cellio Dec 19 '17 at 15:40
22

Any type of activism can hurt your employability. Employers are looking for "safe bets" when they hire someone. They are looking for people who will not hurt the image of their business in anyway.

It doesn't matter what job you are looking for, the employer is going to look you up and try to find out everything they can about you with every public resource available. If they see something they do not like, this will hurt your employability.

If I was hiring someone who appeared to be head of a particular activist group, my first few questions would be:

  1. What else does he disagree with and will he campaign against something we do not have a stance on?
  2. If we let him go, will he campaign against us?

In the end, I would hire someone with similar qualification who carries no risk.

  • 9
    Employers are looking for "safe bets" when they hire someone. - Citation Needed (for the record they look at risk vs reward. Companies are more willing to take great risks when there is a great reward potential) – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 18 '17 at 16:27
  • 3
    A lot of that risk can be mitigated by HOW the OP conducts himself. If he is promoting an idea and pushing an agenda, but still civilized and professional, that will seem much more palatable than an activist that is... well... scary and unpredictable. – Ask About Monica Dec 18 '17 at 19:52
  • Or they like people who side with themselves... – rogerdpack Dec 19 '17 at 0:25
  • 2
    @IDrinkandIKnowThings I don't think what you say really disagrees with the answer. The answer does say "I would hire someone with similar qualifications who carries no risk." If they can't find anyone else of similar qualifications, the situation is different, but do you really want to be considered behind everyone else with similar qualifications? It's one thing if you have some niche high-demand skill, but that's not incredibly common for web development. – reirab Dec 19 '17 at 6:10
  • @reirab - I do not disagree with the whole answer just the incredibly inaccurate claim of avoiding risk completely – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 19 '17 at 16:33
11

It can both hurt and help your employability - it depends on whether a potential employer agrees with your stance or is able to at least see past their disagreement to acknowledge your passion and drive.

On the other hand, where it may hurt your employability at a particular organisation, you may find they wouldn't be a good fit for even without the activism giving them misgivings.

Some issues are highly controversial, but I'm not sure net neutrality is one of those issues. All in all, if you're passionate about it, be vocal about it - just don't break any laws. You may find it opens more doors than closes them.

  • Exactly! On nearly every topic, for every person who takes offense at your position there will be another person who admires it and another person who doesn’t care either way. – Kent A. Dec 18 '17 at 13:10
6

It depends.

I worked somewhere where it was in the terms of employment that if you were ever identified as one of their employees while engaging in any political activity, you were done. Nice and vague. I withdrew from social media entirely when I worked there. It has been my experience that this can break three ways.

  1. Other companies may have specific policies similar to the one I mentioned above, so you would have to research which they are.
  2. If your activism goes against a certain industry, consider yourself EXTREMELY unlikely to get or maintain a job in that industry, as it will come out in a background search.
  3. If you apply to an agency or company that shares your views and is active in the same cause or causes, it may prove to be an advantage.

However, in general, you are most likely to encounter #1 and #2, as most companies are adverse to drama and/or getting their name out in public in any way that does not put them in a positive light.

Of course, your decision is just that, your descision, but this is what you face. If you decide to proceed, then your future job prospects will likely be in area #3 with activist companies that share your views.

  • 1
    In most Western countries, such a employment condition would be void as it violates the freedom of speech. (US of course excepted, as employer rights trump employee rights). In the EU, it even is discriminatory while hiring. – MSalters Dec 18 '17 at 15:50
  • 1
    @MSalters Those same countries will throw you in jail for a video you did with your dog as a joke. Braille has their own labyrinthine regulations to get through applying European standards to Brazil is a bad fit. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Dec 18 '17 at 16:00
3

I interview candidates (technically I am not the hiring manager, but more often than not my decision is an important factor for the hiring manager).

  • Typically I only look into the information which the candidate provided (CV etc), the only exception would be to look for his/her PhD thesis or other publications (typically via researchgate), we do not google canidates
  • I personally would rather see it positive that the candidate has an opinion on something like net neutrality - especially as a web dev - and in my experience people who raise such opinions have a higher potential.
  • In my personal experience the people who were activists were much more diligent in making sure which opinion they represent at any given moment.

Obviously that is only true when the position is really opinion based and neutral to the goals of your prospective employer. One i reviewed a candidate for an R&D position where it (unintentionally) came to my attention that he was part of a religious community being opposed to evolution theory. In this case it did not matter (his other experiences were not right), but I am not sure that I could have kept this from my evaluation.

  • I'd tend to agree - activisim might mean a better candidate, especially if their sentiment approximately fits with the companies own views on a subject. However, it depends what you call 'activism'. In other words, if you're the guy drawing the posters or going on lawful protests then that's probably a positive for you, but if you're the guy going to violent/unlawful obstructions, or even was the guy they send to TV interviews on weekends, then perhaps not. – Ralph Bolton Dec 19 '17 at 11:22
  • Not sure whether this justifies a separate answer (or might you want to incorporate it into your answer Sascha?) I see at least the potential for online activism to improve employability by showcasing some of your skills, particularly people skills. Like open source development, where you demonstrate your work, technical and with people, in the open; or in Germany, where being an employee representative at a company which is often considered harmful to careers, but some have been promoted by managers impressed with their negotiation skills (zeit.de/2008/16/C-Kompakt-Betriebsrat). – michaeljt Dec 20 '17 at 10:27
1

I don't know about Brazil but from what I seen at jobs so long as you aren't part of extreme political groups, then you should be okay. I would say a lot of your peers in web development probably dislike the net neutrality repeal and you might find some of them are actively part of some group as well.

So long as your views aren't tied to violence or hate speech, I really can't see how that would negatively affect your employability. Granted making a big deal about it might but having a few articles online or attending rallies probably won't hurt your chances unless you are participating in violence. Just make sure whatever group you are part of don't have a history of violence or hate speech and as always, exercise common sense when discussing politics at the office.

  • The ideology of what constitutes "extreme" can vary quite a bit. Simply counter-protesting neo-Nazis can get you labelled an extremist. – user234461 Jan 3 at 17:46
0

Of course it can.

But it may not.

It may even help in some cases.

Authenticity comes with a cost, but unless your views are going to create a direct conflict of interest from day one, then I might suggest that you're better off without the employer who doesn't want you because of them.

0

"The duplicate candidate specifically states bad online activity. Campaigning for net neutrality is hardly directly bad, that is mostly opinion based."

Presumably everyone who is politically active considers the cause he is working for to be good. I have a hard time imagining someone saying, for example, "I am actively campaigning for drug legalization, though I think that if drugs were legalized it would be a disaster for this country." The point is not whether YOU think it's a bad thing, but whether a potential employer thinks it's a bad thing.

As others have noted, if the employer thinks it's a bad thing, he may or may not count it against you. An employer might say, hey, what he does on his own time is his business.

But it stands to reason that, whatever the cause, some number of potential employers will disagree with you on this cause, and will be unwilling to hire you because of it. Without a lot more information I can't say how likely it is that this will be an issue for you, how likely you are to apply for a job with a company where the boss disagrees with you on this, and where he disagrees strongly enough that it would affect whether he would hire you.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.