Chocolate and Gold Coins

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Blogging as a Labor Market Signal

Like most of you, I spend a lot of time reading blogs. Most of the blogs I read regularly are very good (duh – who reads bad blogs?). The effort that goes into them is considerable, and the achievement of creating a successful blog that attracts regular readers is noteworthy. But here’s a question: does blogging tell us anything about the blogger’s labor market skills? If you have a blog, would you put that on your resumé? If you run a company, would you want personnel to check if an applicant has a blog? If she does have a blog and you choose to read it, what do you look for?

For most people that blog, their blog might be a bit embarrassing. A job applicant wants to look her best and a blog shows the applicant as she really is. She might come off as lazy (no posts for four months). She might come off as stupid if she fails to do a spell check on her writing. She might come off as a sour worker if she complains frequently about her job and co-workers. She might come off as opinionated (who isn’t in real life?). Or she might reveal an embarrassing secret: here is a classic example of a blog [link via Calico Cat] you would not want your boss to find, (explained in this Washington Post article [link via Gongol]).

But many blogs reflect very positively on the bloggers. They might highlight excellent writing skills and clear thinking. A group blog might signal an ability to be a team player. The creator of the group blog might be showing good organizational skills.

Obvious Skills

Some people’s skills are easily revealed through blogging. A blog is a natural way for someone with journalistic or editorial skills to showcase her skills. A friend of mine Amit Varma was a good but not well-known cricket journalist until he created India Uncut. Now he’s the most famous blogger in India. Just skim through India Uncut for a moment and see just how much he writes in a day, it’s incredible. His blog definitely reveals a lot of skills that would be useful in journalism.

Amit’s blog partner at Middle Stage, Chandrahas Choudhury is also a cricket journalist, but his skill is really book reviewing. His blog shows that he has the talent to review books for a major publication. He is also showing that he is skilled in the thankless job of manuscript evaluation.

A blog can also showcase web-design skills. One blog in particular that I think is a well-designed blog is Gongol. His blog showcase either Brian Gongol's web-design skills or his blog designer.

Entrepreneurial Skills

A successful group blog can have a real energy associate with it. A great group blog is like a business that is really successful, except there really isn’t any money in blogging. One group blog that I find very impressive is Sepia Mutiny. If you have never been there, this is one fine blog. Admittedly, their focus is narrow: South Asians in America. But Sepia Mutiny is a very professional-looking blog. Abhi Tripathy who is the founder of Sepia Mutiny shows that he can create (or help create) a very professional looking blog with the slickest design in the blogosphere.

He also has recruited (or help recruit) an A-list group of co-bloggers who all blog with the distinct Sepia Mutiny style. It is important to note that these bloggers do not meet regularly to discuss issues of strategy or style or whatever. In fact, Abhi claims he has never met some of his co-bloggers. How does he get them to adhere to the Sepia Mutiny style? When you think about it, many companies spend a lot of money sending their staff across country to attend meetings. They feel they have to meet in person to do business. The Sepia Mutiny bloggers never meet, and that works fine. Does Abhi know something about controlling a global enterprise that others should know?

Another blog that reveals a business skill of the blogger is Michael Kantor’s Half Sigma. The Half Sigma blog is sharp looking and Michael’s posts frequently on interesting topics: economics and politics. But Michael’s real skill is marketing. He really hustles. If he hasn’t found your blog, sorry but you’re nobody. He makes sure that Half Sigma is very visible by working hard to get mentioned by the bigger blogs. If you look at the bigger blogs that deal with economics and politics with comments or trackback, you’ll see a lot of Half Sigma. So Half Sigma really reveals that Michael has a lot of marketing skill, which is interesting because Michael isn’t in marketing.

Last week in the Carnival of the Capitalists, there was an interesting piece by Jim Logan on whether it was better to have either a great product and mediocre marketing or great marketing for a mediocre product. Here is a quote from Half Sigma’s comment:

"A mediocre product or service can be sold with a great marketing and sales effort. I don’t believe the opposite is true."

That sounds EXACTLY like something I would have said myself.

Now compare these two blogs: Warren Meyer’s Coyote Blog and Michael Kantor’s Half Sigma. I think that most people who are familiar with both blogs would say that Coyote Blog contains more quality content – especially more original content, (that's not a criticism of Half Sigma, Coyote Blog is really good). However, I think Half Sigma will soon be more popular. Half Sigma avoids long-winded posts, its more like blog-candy (I like blog-candy, remember this is Chocolate and Gold Coins). Michael responds to the people who comment on his site. Coyote Blog focuses more on quality readership than quantity readership. Coyote Blog is basically content to say in effect “if you find me, good, if you don’t it’s your loss not mine.” But Michael’s philosophy is “I put some effort into producing a good blog, I’ll put some effort into making sure people find it.” That’s marketing, and that’s a valuable skill.

Some Final Thoughts

I would never say that you could hire someone based solely on her blog. You need to look at the resumé and check out the references. But if two identical candidates interview for a job, the blog might contain helpful information to help tip the balance. I wonder if anyone who hires really thinks about that. And maybe we should all consider a little bit more on what our blogs are saying about us.


Abhi Tripathy of Sepia Mutiny informs me that fellow mutineer Manish Vij is the one who created Sepia Mutiny's awesome blog design. Manish is certainly signaling some web design ability.


  • Michael,
    Thanks for the kind words about SM.

    shows that he can create (or help create) a very professional looking blog with the slickest design in the blogosphere.

    Most of the credit for the design of SM goes to co-founder Manish Vij. He's the one in the group with all the computing brains (as well as the one who most frequently uses puns). The two of us have done the banners but all the slick layout stuff is all him.

    How does he get them to adhere to the Sepia Mutiny style?

    Unfortunately I can't get them to adhere to anything. :) That's the problem with a mutiny. You can't trust even those closest to you.

    In fact, Abhi claims he has never met some of his co-bloggers.

    That's right. I've only met one. With insurgencies its best to keep things compartmentalized. :)

    Does Abhi know something about controlling a global enterprise that others should know?

    Yes. But by the time the secret gets out it will be too late. Unless they pay me one Miiilllion dollars for it.

    Thanks again for the kind comments!
    (sorry if I initially posted this in the wrong place)

    By Blogger TMB, at 11:50 AM  

  • Hi Abhi
    Thank you for finding my site and commenting on my blog, (a mention on SM would be nice:)). Good luck on becoming an Astronaut. But I am sure that in any case you will do great things because Sepia Mutiny shows you have great ability.

    By Blogger Michael Higgins, at 12:37 PM  

  • To echo what TMB said, thanks for saying my Half Sigma blog is "sharp looking."

    But I really must give most of the credit to Six Apart, the company that created Typepad. The graphic I have is a stock image I bought at All I did was set the colors of the standard template to match the stock image.

    By Blogger Calico Cat, at 12:40 PM  

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