Your Life Online Could Affect Your Job Search Redux

As a blogger about everything software development related, I write a good amount about career advice. Most people probably think that these posts are just summaries of information from other sites regurgitated for my own pageviews. That is far from the truth. In addition, when people write advice about certain things they may not follow it. For my advice related posts, this is again far from the truth. The reason for this is that I want to ensure that the advice is something that I would follow.

In particular, I wrote about finding a job that fits. Some people like the stability of a large corporation. I am not one of those people. I have also assumed that perceived stability is overrated in this economy. So, when I decided to look for a new job, I looked at my own advice and targeted smaller companies. I also knew that I wanted to work for a company created software products, with the assumption I would need to do some implementation consulting as well. Small product companies have a nice balance of product development and consulting so you really can never get bored. By focusing on companies that were smaller and did the type of work that I was interested in, I was able to almost enjoy the job hunt.

One thing I did differently in this job search was promote, or at least disclose, my blogging here and my “side project” YackTrack. The basic idea was that a simple search would have shown that I have a blog and am active in social media. Once you read the blog, you can quickly find out about YackTrack as well. I have also written about how your blogging and social media usage can affect your job search. The idea is fairly basic:

As more social services appear, and more of our lives get documented online, more research of potential employees will occur. What you say on Facebook or Twitter is being searched by various social media monitoring services already. We will probably see vertical-specific applications for social searches in the next few years. How difficult would it be for an application to search the social graph of a person? Many of these services have APIs, and a job application has a lot of personal information that would help someone find the correct person on LinkedIn or Facebook. Once an initial identity is found, it is fairly simple to find your profiles on other social services.

In that post I talk more about Twitter and Facebook, but the idea with blogging would be similar. Do not write about something if you think it would affect your future job search. I am not sure if my blogging adversely affected my ability to get a job with Google, as I almost called them evil in one post. However, it is safe to say that if you want a job with one of the popular companies like Google, Facebook or Twitter, you probably should not talk badly about them. More interestingly, my blogging positively affected my job search. In the position I accepted, the company sees blogging as a benefit. They did not expect me to rave about the product in my blog, but the fact that I was blogging regularly was a major bonus. In addition, they reviewed various blog posts to get an idea of what type of person I was and what my opinions were like. This ended up being a very good thing, as the interview ended up more as a conversation and not a search for knowledge. They already knew I had interests in social media. They already knew I had YackTrack. What they really wanted to know was whether I was interested in the position, and how my knowledge of these things could help the company move forward. In all honesty, it was a fantastic interview process.

So, the next time you go write something on Facebook that is a little risque or controversial, or you want to document your wild weekend, ask yourself whether a future employer or potential client would be affected by reading it. You may just decide that your hangover needs to be dealt with privately.

The words written here will continue to be my opinions only. I will continue to not write about my employer, though topics will typically be related to some of the work that I do as they have been in the past. So, you may assume that things will not really change from the way they have been.

6 thoughts on “Your Life Online Could Affect Your Job Search Redux

  1. > I looked at my own advice and targeted smaller companies.

    This make me a bit sad, though I understand the reasoning. I think you’d enjoy Google.

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  2. DGentry

    I did interview with Google, though it went against what I was planning. Google is just one of those companies that you should interview with. I did make it to in-person interviews and had good feedback, just not good enough.

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  3. Rob, I also think that you have to be careful what you write about online, because that could definitely come back to haunt you. Given how tight the economy is going to be for a while, you’ve got to doubly make sure that you don’t appear to be a bitter person to anybody Googling you for information. But you’ve also got to make sure that other people aren’t writing anything about you on http://www.dirtyphonebook.com or other places where people do that where its biting a lot of people in the behind. In the long run, I think there’s going to be so much comments about everybody that it won’t affect hiring decisions. But in the short run….HR people don’t understand the new internet and how other people might say untrue things about you.

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  4. > HR people don’t understand the new internet and how
    > other people might say untrue things about you.

    It scares me how quickly one can completely lose control of your name online, and how long lasting the consequences are. For example, Simon Blint (http://www.google.com/search?q=Simon+Blint). Almost two years later, the search results for his name are still … unfavorable.

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  5. Anonymous and DGentry

    I agree that whatever you write could come back to haunt you. I was wondering whether some of my Google related posts hurt my chances at Google or not.

    Sites like getunvarnished.com and dirtyphonebook.com do not look like they would really help people, but just make more places we need to review. Allowing anonymous comments on those types of sites can create a wealth of problems if people try to game the system, positively or negatively.

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