There’s been much hand-wringing over Chris’s post and related links about the role having a blog might have when it comes to getting an academic job. I think it’s all much ado about nothing, but since I’ve done very well professionally out of blogging I suppose I might think that.
Different types of job candidate might be differently affected by having a blog.
The good student at a weak school. If you’re applying for a job where there are 400 applicants, and a lot of them look a lot like you, you’re going to need a lot of luck to get the job. Having a glowing recommendation from Princeton or Oxford would help, but unless you’re at Princeton or Oxford those are hard to get. In this situation I think it’s really hard to overestimate how important name recognition is, especially when it comes to getting your name onto the first short list of 30-50. When you’ve got 400 applicants, there’s going to be some fairly arbitrary choices made at that first stage, and being known to the search committee will usually help pass that stage. Running a blog is, in the right circumstances, a way of being known. In the overall scheme of things having a blog is less important than having a well-maintained webpage with your best writing prominently displayed, but it can certainly help.
The bad student at the good school. Here you might be better off avoiding blogging. If your game plan for getting hired is to play off a fancy looking CV and get yourself into the comfy office before anyone finds out about your argumentative abilities, I’d recommend against blogging. I’d also recommend against academia, but I don’t suppose you’d listen.
The political deviant. This is where things get tricky. I think there is little or no political bias in philosophy hiring. (As we’ve discussed on CT previously, there is evidence of religious bias, which is much more disturbing. But let’s stick to politics here.) Here’s an argument for that conclusion I don’t think has been run much before. My impression is that philosophy grad students are, as a group, more left-wing than philosophy professors. If there was anti-right political bias in hiring of the sort that would make one worried about having a blog, one would expect that to not be the case I’d think. So unless one has really extreme political views (pro-Stalin or pro-slavery or something) I don’t think there’s much to fear here. Again, since I have political views that are (as far as I can tell) only marginally more centrist than the bulk of the profession, this is a lot easier for me to say than it might be for others.
So overall, I’d recommend having an internet presence, including blogging if it’s the style of writing you prefer, as a way to get a job. The main exception would be if you think knowing more about you, and in particular about your professional work, makes you a less attractive job candidate. But in that case I don’t know what advice I could give.