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In my spare time I write a RPG (roleplaying game) blog - stuff like D&D, White Wolf, BESM, etc. Nothing I write is controversial or adult in the least. I've gotten paid for my articles in this field at times (and have the previously published ones I've been paid for listed on my "writing" resume.) Basically, for me it's a way to showcase my writing skills, should a hiring manager wish to check it out, and it saves me from having to provide a lot of samples of various writing samples if there's no space to upload them (and it also showcases that I know how to do HTML because the website supports it). If a website asks for a personal blog or website, is giving this information a bad thing?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jul 20 '16 at 23:43
  • Sounds fun, can you share a link to the blog? – Mikey Mouse Jul 21 '16 at 9:56
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    @MikeyMouse Keep in mind this is at a VERY high level (design aspect mostly): fantasyroleplayingplanes.blogspot.com – Jesse Cohoon Jul 21 '16 at 13:27
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    It depends. In what industry and place are you applying for these jobs, and what kind of roles are you applying for? – A E Jul 21 '16 at 13:49
  • @AE Executive Assistant, various technical writing jobs, marketing. Some jobs actually involving blogging. – Jesse Cohoon Jul 21 '16 at 14:01
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Well... It can depend (sorry).

On the good side, I would look at it, judge it for its uniqueness, and writing style. I would see how you have handled advertisements and such. I would look for, and judge you based on what I want to hire you for. If I am hiring a copy writer, I would almost require this, to see a "natural" writing style. For a dev or designer, I would look and see if you're doing anything interesting. That said, the actual content would have no meaning to me. And as long as it wasn't filled with hate speech, racism, I wouldn't really care. Personal means personal. I would also be aware of the fact that you, as a interviewee has a good work life balance so I don't need to worry about that too much.

On the bad side, I was turned down for a job once or twice because of content on a websites that I created for others, where the others added some PG-13 content. So people do look at that stuff, and they do judge based on its content. It does happen.

The end result, You need to find a job where you can be happy. If your blogging makes you happy, and they ask, then share. If they won't hire you because you want to play War-hammer every third Thursday, and Tuesday nights are reserved for DnD at your local hobby shop, then you probably don't want to work for them anyway.

A side note if you're looking to work for, say, Wizards of the coast, it gets tricky. You may be asked to take down the blog as a condition of employment. If your blog is too close to your work, you may want to leave it off. At the same time, I use mine all the time to get new work. So it can really depend. Just make sure, if your blog topic is close to your job, that you're aware of that, and you will have a different set of considerations.

  • What I write is a much too high of a level to be useful to or even conflicting with a gaming company. I give ideas, and people put those into practice themselves. – Jesse Cohoon Jul 19 '16 at 18:48
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    Maybe, but think of Apple rumors or such. Some one that works at Apple says they like bananas and now the iPhone 7 is in development and it's going to come in yellow by default, AND be just a little curvy. Some companies will want to avoid that, and would ask you to take down the blog if it got too close to their line of business. That said, Unless your going to work for WotC or some such, it doesn't apply. – coteyr Jul 19 '16 at 18:52
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    In a smaller company they might evaluate the blog and determine that it's high-level enough that it won't be a problem, but the bigger the company the smaller the chance that someone would spend any time analyzing the blog contents in detail (or even looking at it once) and making an informed decision whether it's ok or not. – Moyli Jul 21 '16 at 8:41
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    "I was turned down for a job once or twice because of content on a websites that I created for others, where the others added some PG-13 content." How did you find that out? – Andy Lester Jul 21 '16 at 18:37
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    @AndyLester, was straight up told. I didn't consider it a big loss. I was told basically, "we are looking for someone that has a more professional outlook on their public website postings." (This was a lot of years ago so, I probably don't have that exactly right). I asked for a specific example (thinking an account was compromised), and they sent me a link. I never gave it a second thought, cause it was content not created by me, using a platform that I did build, and if they can't tell the difference, then no big loss to me. – coteyr Jul 21 '16 at 20:48
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It depends :-(

I know of a situation where an excellent candidate had a wonderful resume, presented well in the interview, but ultimately was passed over for the position because he was wearing a Mickey Mouse watch and was thus deemed "not serious enough for the job".

On the other hand, if I were interviewing you it would be a plus because you actually have a life outside work, you have passion for something, and you do more than just sit & watch TV.

I keep meaning to buy a Mickey Mouse watch as way to filter out stuffy companies but I haven't done it yet.

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    "Passed over for the position because he was wearing a mickey mouse watch" god that's depressing. Makes that workplace seem dystopian. – GeoGeoGeometry Jul 19 '16 at 14:21
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    @GeoGeoGeometry I wish I could say that that was the most ridiculous thing I ever saw. Not even close – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 14:27
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    +1 For reminding us that you are also interviewing the company. I would say throw it in, as it would screen out stuffy companies. Given (what's left of) geek culture, it's more likely to be a plus. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 14:28
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    The Mickey Mouse watch guy probably would have hated working there anyway. – Todd Wilcox Jul 19 '16 at 15:48
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    I believe some high flyers on wall street deliberately wear cheap watches – Pepone Jul 19 '16 at 15:51
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I've had two experiences that make me think you'd be better off to not mention it.

a) A while ago an applicant did mention this as a hobby. Later, our HR person made disparaging remarks about his hobby to the other decision makers. I asked her if she realized that she had just insulted about 60% of the company including every single senior developer, team lead and architect. That made her think. But the bottom line is, people are ignorant, don't expect that the hiring decision is made by a fellow geek.

b) You said your texts are not controversial. I would like to invite you over to RPG.SE. Just as an example, today as an answer to a question, I posted that I had used the publishers written guidelines on the topic and that this had solved the problem for me. For some reason, at least one person thought that this was "not useful". I would have thought that quoting the publishers writing adding personal experience to confirm it would be uncontroversial, but it seems in RPG, nothing really is. Whatever you write, somebody will feel it's wrong.

So if you hit the right guy in the interview, you have a good chance to make a somewhat positive impression. However, you also have a chance to meet the wrong guy and get sorted out for no good reason. It's your choice if you want to take that risk. For me, weighting the chance of a minor positive against the chance of a major negative, it does not seem to be worth it.

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    Later, our HR person made disparaging remarks about his hobby to the other decision makers. Wow. HR people are the ones supposed to train others about sensitivity. – Stavr00 Jul 19 '16 at 15:26
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    "do I really want to work for that company?" -- well, do you? Depends how badly you need the job, and how easily you can spend 8 hours a day acting like a normal person ;-) I see it like any office convention: there are places you have to wear a suit to work, and places you can't make pop culture references to genre fiction, and it's actually not that onerous to act the part. If they'd actually fire you for failing to wear a suit, or for writing genre fiction or playing RPGs, outside work, then sure, they're too uptight for either your health or frankly their own. – Steve Jessop Jul 19 '16 at 17:48
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    "HR people are the ones supposed to train others about sensitivity" - but if your basic reason for existing is to force other people to follow rules that you didn't create yourself, whether you believe they are sensible or not, being a psychopath seems a useful personality trait. – alephzero Jul 19 '16 at 18:23
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    The entire paragraph seems irrelevant to this question, and calling an answer that scored 60-1 controversial seems like an exaggeration. I saw a paragraph that I think detracts from an otherwise excellent answer, so I called it out. It's up to you what you do with criticism of this kind: If you see it as a directive to make claims without backing them up, that's your call. – Miniman Jul 20 '16 at 4:37
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    @Miniman So you came over to this site from RPG.SE and created an account here because you think my workplace answer is not good enough? See you perfectly prove my point: talking about RPG attracts people that think you are wrong. No matter what you write, somebody will pop up and have a different opinion. And I don't want to take that chance in an interview. That's what my answer here says. – nvoigt Jul 20 '16 at 4:46
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It really depends on who you are interviewing with.

  • Roleplaying games are associated with geek culture. This might be good or bad depending on what job you apply for.
  • An older and conservative person might still be influenced by the DnD satanism hysteria in the 80s and thus sceptic of DnD players (no matter how ridiculous it seems to us geeks).
  • A roleplaying game blog might or might not be a good example of what work the company is looking for. When they want to hire you for writing something completely different than that, it would not give them a good expression of how your skills transfer to what they want you to do.

Look at what the company you apply to does and how it represents itself and its culture. Then decide how they would react.

  • The question then is how to determine that on a company that's asking for a writer the name of which is undisclosed? – Jesse Cohoon Jul 19 '16 at 14:34
  • @JesseCohoon Then you can only guess based on what requirements the job offer lists. – Philipp Jul 19 '16 at 14:36
  • I'd rather hire a Satanist than someone who still played a non-computerized form of DnD. – TheMathemagician Jul 19 '16 at 18:23
  • @TheMathemagician you mean tabletop? – Jesse Cohoon Jul 19 '16 at 18:44
  • @TheMathemagician How about a Lokean that goes both ways? (Tabletop and computer) – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '16 at 19:42
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Nothing I write is controversial or adult in the least.

Unfortunately as a role-player myself I think constant exposure can make you forget how sensitive civilians can be. Of those you list, there's really very little in White Wolf that isn't a little bit controversial or that some people wouldn't want to put age-inappropriacy tags on. I don't just mean the back cover of the 1st ed. clanbook Tzimisce. If Twilight is insipid for your taste, and your writing reflects that, then basically you're admitting that you're desensitized to what I'd call "serious" depictions of monsters and some other people would call "controversial" or "adult" depictions! The White Wolf books used to have "reader discretion is advised", and "vampires aren't real", in the small print. Of course non World-of-Darkness lines like Exalted are easier to keep happy and bouncy.

If you're applying for jobs where you need to demonstrate creative writing, hirers should allow some latitude for you to have written on subjects that are a tiny bit edgy. Even outside that, most people don't care that you're interested in horror or violence in fiction, even if they wouldn't show your horror-themed or combat-oriented RPG writing to their children. And sure, mainstream TV and movies are very violent too, not to mention riddled with sex, and often fantasy and SF-based. So the fact it's written genre fiction should make no difference. But there's no accounting for taste. Some people just don't approve of "that sort of thing" and think those who like it will be somehow weird or frivolous in general.

Some small residue exists of people who are in-real-life horrified by it, and a slightly larger group who aren't horrified by it but would consider it inappropriate to have on a CV unless writing is directly relevant to the job. Or who (ironically, giving the feelings of the horrified people) will think playing games is a bit childish. Yeah, I know.

It surely can't be off-putting to most hiring managers. A majority either won't care about your creative writing and won't look at it, or else they'll look at it and won't be shocked that some people are interested in fantasy/horror/manga/games/general geekery. A minority will disapprove of your taste, although most of them still won't consciously make it part of their hiring decision. You may experience things differently in an extremely conservative area, if there are any left where people still believe Jack Chick. Or there are probably countries in the world where speculative/horror fiction in general, and RPGs in particular, really haven't permeated and would be seen as odd or bad.

  • I've included my blog in the comments at the top, if you want to have a look – Jesse Cohoon Jul 21 '16 at 13:49
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It depends on the company. Some companies value "creativity", others don't. For any given industry, there's really no way to tell with 100% or even 90% accuracy if it will be a benefit to list it.

There are 2 things to consider:

  1. Maybe you prefer working in a company that doesn't disapprove your hobbies.
  2. The more filtering steps there are in a hiring process, the more likely this will mean your CV gets rejected by a filter.*

*Filter: If you go through an agency, they might try to sort the CVs so they only provide good CVs to the potential employers. This filtering process is pretty random since far too often these people absolutely no clue about the relevant skills in the job. Once your CV gets to HR or to a secretary, they will sort through the CVs so the ones who are actually doing the hiring don't get too many CVs. This filtering process can be pretty random since often these people don't know enough about the relevant skills in the job. Then at some point the CV might get to the CxO who might see it as their duty to make sure to not hire anyone into their department who's not up to their standards. This filtering process can be pretty random since sometimes these people are surprisingly clueless regarding the relevant skills for the job. Then finally a small fraction of the original CVs gets to the person who wants to hire a new person for their 5 man team.

So if you can contact the person who will be your new boss directly, you can circumvent the filters. You can also circumvent the filters if only a very small number of people apply for the job and the job is in a SMB. You can not circumvent the filter if you apply for a job at a megacorporation through the official channels.

  • define filter/ filtering steps (I'm not meaning to be dense here) – Jesse Cohoon Jul 19 '16 at 17:09
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    "Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of opinion." – user37746 Jul 19 '16 at 18:43
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    @JesseCohoon I think in general terms he means that the more people who look over your application, the more likely there is to be someone who finds the blog off-putting, which could cause it to be rejected. I do agree with the sentiment that a smaller company is less likely to care about the blog than a very large one, for a number of reasons including that one. – wavemode Jul 19 '16 at 18:57
  • Interesting to think only 1 person along this chain needs to disapprove of RPG for the whole application process to end. – Mirror318 Jul 22 '16 at 3:55
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Basically what you want to do is showcase your talent by submitting some real world samples. Even if it was about boats, I'm sure someone will find it offensive. It really depends on who you give it to and there's no way to know until you show it and they may be put off by it merely based on the subject, layout or even the way it is presented. With that said it may be best to just simply not show it if you feel it'll be perceived badly. It may be better to just simply type up some sample writings about generic objects and use those as samples in a separate site/blog.

As an example a person submitted a resume and she had a blog online that talks about technologies. While we thought it was helpful, I thought it was too elementary and basic to be of any use, even to a complete beginner.

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+100

Likely more-so yes than no. And it depends on the level of position you are going after.

I can only answer from my own experience in hiring. In my tenure as Director of IT for multi-national companies, when I have open positions I generally receive one to two hundred CVs for each position. To distill that down to the top 10 candidates I have to quickly filter out 95% by applying shortcuts. They might not be entirely accurate, but it gets me there.

To filter down quickly, I'm looking for two things: anything that makes you stand out - usually a combination of people skills and relevant experience; and anything that is reason to eliminate you. Sorry, but I don't have time to examine every CV in detail, until I get to the top 10.

What candidates need to understand is how competitive and impersonal the selection process is on the first pass. Once you join my organization, I support and mentor you, stand up for you, make myself available to you, and help you to be successful in every way I can. But prior to that, as a CV, anything that seems "off" can get you eliminated.

To give some examples: If a position requires an undergraduate degree or equivalent experience and a candidate has a masters degree or above, I often will be less interested because they spent more time in school instead of getting to work and gaining experience. Do you thirst to roll up your sleeves and dig in to the real world or are you a professional student? I don't know you, so I may assume the later. In my experience you are likely under-qualified, with less experience than other candidates.

If in your spare time I see you have a hobby that gains you real-world understanding or experience or in any way contributes to your technical expertise, such as electronics or other programming languages or business systems, that can be a plus. Or even something that demonstrates clear thinking or handling risk situations - if you are a pilot for example. Those can be favorable. However if you spend so much time on them that your career is secondary, that makes you less favorable.

If I read that you spend so much time in a make believe MU game that you are compelled to spend even more time writing a blog about it, then it's a little hard for me to believe you are the type of person who is always learning to better their career and thus be a continually improving technical employee.

All this may sound harsh, unfair and coldly calculated. But when a company trusts my judgement to hire only the best people to handle mission-critical systems, and for me to wager my career on everything always being handled timely and appropriately, I have to be very selective. In the businesses I work for, a single misstep can cost US$ millions in performance penalties from our customers. If my hiring choices cannot support that business, ultimately it will be me who gets replaced, not you. It's never personal or judgement of anyone as a person. I simply have the task to make my best guess as to which one of the two hundred candidates I'm going to bank my career on.

Bottom line is every detail can get read between the lines. But this is just my $0.02 from my experience and process.

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    Would the same apply in your mind if someone worked full time while earning their masters? – JasonJ Jul 20 '16 at 16:15
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    No, JasonJ. I might want to talk to that person more, if there were other positive qualifiers that float that CV toward the top, especially if it's an MBA. – John Jul 20 '16 at 16:32
  • Wow! I am fairly sure I wouldn't want to work for you (which is OK, you probably don't want to hire me either). (Note: That's not intended to come across as hostile; we just have very different views on what makes a great candidate.) – Martin Bonner supports Monica Jul 22 '16 at 9:02
  • Great answer John, but one thing I'd point out is that you don't immediately bank your career on this first impression. You use it to filter your candidate pool so anything that appears to be outside the norm is a way to get it down to a manageable size. If such a candidate had a very impressive work history he'd presumably make it pas that initial cut and you'd ask him about the hobby during an interview. I believe that's what you're getting at but your second-to-last paragraph seems to confuse that. – Lilienthal Jul 23 '16 at 11:41
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I dont think that the blog should cause any problems, but I probably wouldnt fill it into a form saying "personal webpage". I wouldnt provide a web page there that isnt for application or business purposes because thats what many HR managers expect.

However, you should hilight your writing and programming skills in your resume. If you provide the URL or not will be entirely dependent on the job.

Should you choose not to provide it and an interviewer asks you for proof of your writing skills, you can talk about the blog and about articles you wrote for magazines. This will result in them feeling that yours is a meaningful CV and there is depth to your character and in your statements.

Personally, I think as long as the social skills are good (to be proven in an interview for example), people who have a specific interest or hobby are far more interesting, stronger characters, and bring diversity into a team.

You should consider one other thing: If you publish in this blog under your real name, the will have found it probably themselves before inviting you to an interview. The first thing I do after looking at an applicants CV is copy the name in Google...

If your blog comes up there, you can almost be certain that, before inviting you to an interview, the interviewer has already found it!

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