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I'm looking for a job and I have an offer I am considering. The company seems like a nice place to work, I like the team, I can make a contribution and also learn something. The unusual feature is that the company's software product primarily supports an adult entertainment web site.

I have no moral qualms about the work, and my research suggests that the adult site is legitimate and is not mistreating the sex workers or their clients. I have no problem telling people what I'm working on. But I can see where other people might raise an eyebrow.

  • How will having a position with a company like this affect my future job searches (resume, applications, etc)?

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

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    Yes, it will limit your future career options. There will always be someone who will make an assumption about your morality based on that. The same also applies to working for the military. Or Big Pharma. Or in gambling. The question is how much will it limit your career options and anyone here would be guessing. – pdr May 1 '13 at 19:06
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    Is the company name very obviously tied to that industry? This probably would affect how it's perceived, at least on a resume/text job application... – enderland May 1 '13 at 19:26
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    I cleaned this post up and made it more appropriate for the site (jokes intended). This is also not necessarily specific to software engineers but rather anyone who works for such a company in any capacity. – enderland May 1 '13 at 19:30
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    @enderland: Nothing has changed, IMO. "Will my moral choices now affect my options in future?" is asking people to be prescient. We don't know who the asker will want to apply to 5 years from now. The only question here that can be answered is "Will discounting an entire industry now limit my options now?" which is, obviously, a yes. – pdr May 1 '13 at 20:07
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    This is all a matter of presentation. No one needs to know that the websites are adult sites. Your resume should say "website development: content and media distribution". In the interview, "Small-scale media distribution" or any other euphemism you can manage. Presentation, presentation, presentation. Unless the firm's name carries anything remotely resembling the 3X, it's a circumstance you should be able to manage – kolossus May 2 '13 at 12:21
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Here's the thing ... the software industry is rife with jobs that someone will find morally objectionable. I have worked for a company who provided hardware for the military, I have worked for a company who aimed to strip the betting exchanges, in the same way as others strip the financial markets.

I won't go into the details, but I know that some people find my current employer to be morally offensive, though 99.9% of people would think it's a really good service. Heck, some people think Microsoft, Apple and Google are the big evils of current society. Amazon has been accused of all sorts of employee abuses.

Almost every job you ever take will raise an eyebrow with someone.

I'm not even going to attempt to guess at how many of your future prospective employers will raise an eyebrow at a job on your resume that is connected to the adult industry.

But I will say look at it the other way around. I can guarantee you that if you remove entire industries from your potential employer pool now, you will reduce your options now.

I would advise you to do that only because of your own morals, not because of those of some future employer. There are certainly some companies/organisations I would never work for, but because I object to what they do, not because some hypothetical employer down the road might.

The fact is that, if I have no issue with working in an industry but this hypothetical person has so much of an issue with it that they would never consider employing me after I've worked in that industry, there are probably going to be other clashes of interest / personality, it's probably for the best if I never work for that person.

So, as I said in my earlier comments: Yes, working in the adult industry in any capacity will limit your future career options. There will always be someone who will make an assumption about your morality based on that. The same also applies to working for the military. Or Big Pharma. Or in gambling. Or banking. Or law. Or insurance. And so that list goes on.

You have to decide for yourself if it will limit your options enough to make a decision right now to exclude an industry from your potential-employer pool.

I will add this thought: Don't draw attention to it on your CV. It's content, it's feeding, it's payment processing. It's all stuff that is useful in other industries. It's high-access, and you can't afford long periods of downtime. This is also useful in other industries. Draw attention to that. But hiding a company name is drawing attention to it as much as putting it in bold 72-point font, so bear that in mind.

Treat it as Just Another Job and you'll probably find most other people do too.

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    Anecdotal note: I hired someone once who had worked in the adult industry. I didn't know that til months later, even though he never tried to hide it. Nor would I have cared if I'd noticed. He was one of the nicest guys I've ever worked with (not to mention a very good developer) and anyone who wouldn't hire him is a fool. – pdr May 2 '13 at 10:59
  • Ron Jeremy develops software??? – bharal Apr 13 '18 at 18:10
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It Depends. Mostly on who is interviewing you and also partly on how you list your experiences in your resume.

Professionally speaking it should have no implications on your career. After all if you make a website for X its no different to making a website for Y, other than the company name and the branding.

If you address this on your resume focusing entirely on your technical skills and the experiences you have gained form working there, e.g. helped make X, suggested improvement Y that produced Z improvements, then you are likely to reduce any impact.

But unfortunately you aren't evaluated wholly on technical skills, your decision to work for places that large quantities of people would disagree with says something about your character when compared to the interviewers own ethics. There is every chance a recruiter / interviewer will see this and assume it means you support the cause and will likely make judgement about you based on it.

People will judge you, wherever you go, whatever you do, wherever you work, you will NEVER be judged on your technical skills alone, regardless of gender, race or age. That is one of few facts that are globally true unfortunately.

But again it relies heavily on how you show yourself and your skills, but also heavily on who is interviewing you and whether or not they are able to keep their personal opinion separate from their professional opinion.

Alternately: If you are interviewing for other jobs in a similar industry then it could even help your chances of getting the job as you've already shown you are capable of working in that industry and have demonstrated your skills.

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impossible to tell without knowing each and every person reading your resume in the future.
They may not care, they may reject you out of hand for working for that company, they may not even know what that company is doing (or was at the time). Or they may consider it a good thing, even.
I've seen the same when looking for a job in the past, and I've never worked in anything else than normal, regular, companies. But some were consultancy jobs and there's recruiters/HR flunkies out there who simply won't even talk to you if you've worked as a consultant in the past, or if you worked for a large company, or a small one, or whatever that's different from the company they're recruiting for in size, work environment, or industry.
I'd probably on my future resume concentrate on the technical aspects of the work rather than the customer though.

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    If you do not know the risks then perhaps you should not have answered the question? Because the question is not should i take this job or not but what are the risks of taking it. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 2 '13 at 13:12

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