Is your web identity a help or a hindrance to your employability?
ComputerWorld has an article about how recruiters use web anonymity to find more information out about job applicants.
In a 2006 survey by executive search firm ExecuNet in Norwalk, Conn., 77 of 100 recruiters said they use search engines to check out job candidates. In a CareerBuilder.com survey of 1,150 hiring managers last year, one in four said they use Internet search engines to research potential employees. One in 10 said they also use social networking sites to screen candidates. In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, there are 25 million to 50 million proper-name searches performed each day.
They go on to list some tips like starting a blog, joining open source communities, building a web page, creating web profiles. Andy pads it out with some more helpful suggestions like getting a domain name, tips for getting the number one spot for your name and controlling what appears in search results for your name.
I’ve written about privacy, internet usage and real name searches a few times with my Facebook tips, guide to pseudonyms/identity hiding and tips on hiding your LinkedIn profile from searches outside of your LinkedIn network. When I started this blog a year ago it was with the idea that it could help with the job hunt, but then the slew of articles I read about people losing their jobs because of blogging convinced me otherwise.
Building up an online profile *is* important factor in job hunting but the one lesson I’d like people to remember is that the internet is archived and once something is published you lose control over it. My current “like-watching-a-car-crash” fixation is reading the cyber-drama that can happen between women who have dated the same man and have both become mutually obsessed to some degree (not linked because I respect their desire to let it go). I’d hate to have that kind of high school BS showing up as the number one search result when a stranger tried to find out more information about me.
Blogging and building an online identity around your real name can help you create a trail of expertise for people to find. It definitely can be a good tool for networking with people in your business niche. But it also can be littered with personal information that people are so quick to publish these days that shouldn’t be part of a job search (like appearance, political beliefs, religion, and sexual orientation).
I’ve run into this dilemma myself when I’ve wondered if I should release code or a tutorial under my real name for potential future job searches or leave it under //engtech. This would be less of a dilemma if my career had any sort of benefit from the activities I do blogging (other than I’m getting better at organizing my thoughts into the written form).
There is also a wide disparity between talking the talk and walking the walk when it comes to blogging. Like Matt, I notice that most bloggers who are producing software don’t have a lot of time to blog when they’re also working on a project.
I think Dan was right when he said the best answer to the whole question of online identity impacting job search is to work for yourself so you don’t have to worry about what future employers might think about you. You only have to worry about what your customers think.
Identity Search Tips
What kind of information is available about you?
- Search your name on Google as it appears on your resume with and without quotes around it
- Try the same search with your name and city
- Search your public emails addresses on Google
- Try the same searches on Yahoo and MSN
- Try the same searches on Google Groups
- Try the same searches on Facebook and MySpace
- Find out what your IP address is and search it
It’s surprising what you can find.