// Internet Duct Tape

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.

9 Responses

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  1. engtech said, on March 27, 2007 at 3:53 am

    That homework tip is worth doing. I found someone who was incorrectly misusing my real name email address on alt.atheism to post hyper-conservative rants.

  2. Dan and Jennifer said, on March 27, 2007 at 5:13 am

    Hey Engtech,

    Wow, I made it into the summary paragraph. I am truly humbled. :-)

    By the way, I love the kitty. Friend of yours?

    Have an awesome day!

  3. Hardono Arifanto said, on March 28, 2007 at 7:54 pm

    I start blogging to kill time before I start on my new Job. I believe blogging for a developer is good especially to showcase some concept or prototype.

  4. Brent said, on March 28, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    My blog actually just helped me get a new job!

    The person interviewing me asked what I know about CSS, and I told him to check out my blog for an example of my skills.

    Needless to say, he was impressed with that, among other things, enough to recommend hiring me.

    So I would say that as long as your web presence is one that someone will not be offended by, but instead be impressed by, than this can definitely work out advantageously.

    This is an interesting article though. I feel that far too many people are anonymous on the web. Stating whom you are seems more genuine to me. If you are going to write on the web about whom you are, why not write about whom you really are? That’s my take on it.

  5. engtech said, on March 28, 2007 at 9:51 pm

    Congrats Brent.

    There is a lot to be said for not being anonymous on the web — if you have to say it anonymously maybe you shouldn’t be saying it at all. It’s one thing to be anonymous for freedom of persecution (China, etc) but that’s not the situation for most of North America.

    Anonymity is abused for more often then it has any benefit… but aside from that there’s something to be said for it not being too easy for people to find out a ton of information about you.

    I like what my friend AJ had to say about it:

    So yes, having my information out the world could cause some problems. I can live with that. The alternative is I embrace little acts of cowardice to shield myself from potential annoyance. Hide who I am, dulling my voice and impact, because I’m afraid someone might be mean me. Thats a punk move, Kevin, I can’t roll like that. This way I’m directly accountable for what I say, and who I am…if someone wants to take issue with it then I’ll deal with the consequences.

    Even if someone does try and get malicious, my life is not good enough to ruin. I don’t have a credit card, rarely keep any money in my bank account, am indifferent about my employment, and have questionable standing in the eyes of several law enforcement agencies to begin with. You need to reach a certain height before you can really be brought low..so, I’m pretty safe. Lack of ambition=1, Internet Jerks=0.

  6. Brent said, on March 29, 2007 at 7:22 am

    Yep. And thanks for your congrats. I appreciate it friend.

  7. Digest for March 2007 « //engtech said, on April 05, 2007 at 10:26 pm

    […] Is your web identity a help or a hindrance to your employability? Some thoughts on reputation management, blogging and job searches. […]

  8. […] Is your web identity a help or a hindrance to your employability? Some thoughts on reputation management, blogging and job searches. […]

  9. […] Blogging makes you stand out from the crowd […]

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