There’s a short article on The Job Blog about how one job seeker’s new gig was torpedoed by her personal blog. Apparently after a job interview the prospective employer Googled this person and read something that was awful enough to curl their toes and make them drop-kick the blogger from the applicant pool. The blogger/applicant apparently continues to blog, but has developed some self-imposed rules such as “not identifying her employer in online postings, not identifying colleagues, and not revealing proprietary information.”
When I read that I rolled my eyes so hard I almost lost my balance. You identify yourself by name, gossip about co-workers, and reveal proprietary information in a public space? Then you’re shocked that there are consequences?
I hardly think I’m special or insightful in this regard, but like most rational bloggers I long ago assumed that anything anyone writes in a blog can and WILL be read at some future point by prospective employers, girlfriends/boyfriends, co-workers, friends, and colleagues. Count on it. To that end, I not only avoid sharing scandalous secrets or competitive advantages, I try to come across as a decent person. I don’t curse here. I don’t express strong political opinions even when I really do hold them. I never EVER write about projects I do at work or the people I do them with, even if it seems innocuous on the surface. In short, I don’t write anything that I would be uncomfortable having a prospective employer, friend, or family member read.
In fact, I took things beyond that. One of the reasons I started Selectionmatters.com is that I wanted to give prospective employees something impressive to read if they did an Internet search on me. And by the way, it seems to be working. Once in a job interview the hiring manager made positive comments about both jmadigan.net and Selectionmatters.com without my ever mentioning them, revealing that they had gone out and found the sites on their own.
I also extend this rule to other activities on the Internet. Even though I use a pseudonym, I always write on Internet bulletin boards as if that post would be at the top of a Google search for my real name. Because you know that veil of anonymity you think you have when posting under an online moniker like “Fluffybunnytoes?” It’s paper thin.
So sorry for the rant, but I’m just amazed that anyone would be amazed at this. And it’s just going to get more pronounced with time. I’m really curious to see what happens when the MySpace crowd grows up and starts applying for jobs and running for public offices. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to post those provocative pictures and stories about your personal life after all.