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I am considering taking a software engineering job at a pornographic website. While I have no moral objections to the industry, will it be a red flag on my resume?

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closed as off topic by mattnz, Jarrod Roberson, Bryan Oakley, Jim G., Walter Feb 29 '12 at 12:52

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If I was hiring and I saw a candidate like this it would not be a red flag at all. Content matter aside, these kinds of websites are often very technically accomplished, dealing with very high traffic and conforming to a lot of regulatory constraints. –  MattDavey Feb 24 '12 at 10:08
To be honest, I think this is specific to software development. The answer would certainly be different if it referred to an actor, or a director. As Emilio half points out, the porn industry is responsible for much of the internet's growth (e-commerce, image handling, CDNs, AJAX, video playback, security) over the last 15 years. Voting to reopen. –  pdr Feb 24 '12 at 10:10
@HLGEM can you tell us why it's creepy? As we all know women are in the minority in the IT industry but a lot of interviewees will pass through a HR department at some point and in my experience those are mostly staffed by women so this could be a pertinent point.. –  MattDavey Feb 26 '12 at 11:38
@HLGEM I'm no fan of porn and don't have time to waste on such sites but, wow, the stereotype-o-meter just went through the roof. lol –  MetalMikester Feb 28 '12 at 18:32
@HLGEM: There are also plenty of women on there who find it a perfectly viable and normal occupation like any other. Nobody has to enjoy their job, and I'm not saying that the adult industry doesn't take advantage of women, but I feel that you're blanketing a whole industry here. There is child porn, but that's no industry, that's just illegal. And secondly, men are worse off than women in adult entertainment. It's just easier to see the mistreatment of the women. For one, men get paid significantly less than women, and secondly, if you actually pay attention, they are objectified more. –  DeadMG Feb 28 '12 at 18:34

6 Answers 6

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It shouldn't be an issue but it probably will be.

Having, in the past, worked with someone who has worked in the adult entertainment industry, it does always tend to come up as a topic of conversation and (in this case) despite it only being a year of this guy's career, it is all anyone who has ever worked with him really remembers about him - "Bob who worked in the porn industry".

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How much does this matter if Bob was an outstanding developer and teammate? Imagine if Bob was so-so, but worked on top-clearance military projects. Then he'd be "the guy who worked for the military". If you can excel in a project, you should consider it. –  joshin4colours Feb 28 '12 at 18:42
I personally agree with you...however, it was still "Bob who worked in porn" to the majority of people! –  PhillC Feb 28 '12 at 19:10
@joshin4colours : then it becomes "Bob that kick-ass developer who worked in porn". We had a professor in the late 90s who did a cameo in a porno flick in the early 70s. This was talked about daily in his class. –  Wyatt Barnett Feb 28 '12 at 20:08
Interestingly, in both cases, it sounds like you'd actually remember the person, even if it was for being in porn. –  joshin4colours Feb 28 '12 at 20:51
As the saying goes, "There is no such thing as bad publicity". –  tcrosley Feb 29 '12 at 5:59

Talk about it in an NDA fashion, e.g.

"I can't tell you about specific job details or the industry due to my NDA, but in my job I had to [deal with high volume by doing x], [handle multiple browsers by doing y], [write java code that was aspect oriented] etc. Just make sure you can go into quite a lot of detsails about those things as you may be probed a bit. 'scuse the pun.

Also, always work on your SO profile (i.e. questions and answers) and then when you have a bunch of both questions and answers that show your knowledge you can focus on them for technical details. Just omit and reduce any reference to porn.

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If I was told ""I can't tell you about specific job details or the industry due to my NDA, but in my job I had to [deal with high volume by doing x], [handle multiple browsers by doing y], etc.", then I would pass. Working in a porn industry is fine in my book. Not being able to tall me what they did - now THAT is creepy. –  Job Feb 28 '12 at 19:18
Subtlety is certainly required. I had to talk about 2 NDA jobs during my last interviews and I got the jobs. They "could" have been porn jobs for that matter, but they actually weren't. –  junky Feb 28 '12 at 19:33
@Job: Would "now I've told you what I worked on, a nice man in a black suit will be calling sometime in the next week" be any better? –  gbjbaanb Feb 28 '12 at 20:58
gbjbaanb, I just would not hire you either way, sorry ... for personal/political/just in case reasons. –  Job Feb 29 '12 at 2:24
I would suggest discussing it more neutrally than secretly. Thus, I worked for company X, where I worked on the internals of a high traffic entertainment website. With the assumption that the companyname is different from the actual names of the websites. –  Legolas Feb 29 '12 at 7:03

I'm not a hiring manager, so take this with a grain of salt, but if I was I would be more impressed with that than most other web dev work. The reason being, as pointed out in comments, porn sites tend to be high traffic which would bring on a set of problems not many sites would have. Then throw in the streaming media or serving pictures and you have other problems as well. On top of that, the UX comes into play as well.

When it comes down to it, you can't stop hiring managers personal prejudice about your past employers. People seem to make it seem like it is all about porn, but there are other industries that have negative stereotypes. I currently work for a debt collection agency as a developer and there are people who severely dislike that industry. Telemarketing is another one, yet I'm sure the telemarketing companies have developers working on their technology. At the end of the day, I would want to work somewhere that can appreciate the talents that I possess and the value I can add to the company, if they are too hung up on where I last worked, they did me a favor and showed me that it isn't a place I would like to be without having to go too deep into any interview process.

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but don't worry - you still don't work for something truly dodgy like, say, investment banking :) –  gbjbaanb Feb 28 '12 at 20:59
@gbjbaanb I'm reminded of that every time I see my paycheck ;) –  Jetti Feb 28 '12 at 21:07

The honest real answer is - "It depends on the hiring manager".

Some conservative managers might make it as a negative point. For others, it should not be a matter. If the hiring manager is a woman, I think it will have -ve impact.

I would ask for a good salary over the market standard to work for this company.

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I have a feeling that with some male hiring manager this could also be a plus. –  ZJR Feb 28 '12 at 19:00
unfortunately true. –  junky Feb 28 '12 at 19:34

Not necessarily:

  • It might as it would show that you somehow condone this type of activity, which may or may not be in line with your future employers' views;

  • BUT the adult industry has been a huge driver for technology for ages, whether we like it or not. As such, adult websites...:

    • face a high-level of traffic,
    • face a high-level of security requirements to:
      • not get taken down by opposing groups,
      • or to avoid people entering private areas,
    • and are often in need of a decent UI design.

In my current position I had a few candidates with these on their CVs, and in our case it was definitely points that we would have taken into consideration.

However... it might matter to people who have no knowledge of the implications of this industry's success on the technical level. But you can't predict that. I'd say that if you don't have much more to show for now, then show it. Or do discuss a NDA as mentioned by others, so you have grounds to hide the nature of the business (careful though, it's a double-edged sword: I've seen ridiculous NDAs that would really forbid you to say anything, so do read the fine print if you go down this road).

Needless to say, if you worked on an adult website that didn't present any of the challenges mentioned in my bullet list, then it's probably better to not mention it. Though it catches the eye in a pile of CVs, so even then I'm not so sure it's that bad. As they say: bad publicity is still publicity.

I just realized you actually ask 2 slightly different questions in your title and description. Working for an adult site won't necessarily hurt your employability. Putting it on your resume might (and on the other hand, hiding it might as a consequence of just working in this industry and having "shaddy" period on your resume).

I think you could actually learn a lot from it, if you consider the points listed above, so maybe it outweighs the later problem when switching jobs. Plus according to at least one of the applicants I had, it was fun (no idea what the perks were, if any, and I don't want to know!)

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You don't need to include it on your resume.

I also have no moral objections on the industry, though I wouldn't like it being on my resume, or wouldn't consider it a plus looking at a resume for someone I would want to hire.

The only exception might be, very popular websites like YouPorn might offer you a good opportunity to improve your skills with very highly trafficked web site. I would consider it a plus if you made such a huge website scalable and manageable.

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