Googling job applicants

We’re in the middle of a hiring process and I’ve spent the past few days interviewing – hopefully tomorrow’s second interviews will be the last of it! My apologies to those I spoke with on Friday, I really had had enough by then.

As a natural part of “Let’s get to know this person” we Google a candidate, check Facebook and LinkedIn etc. I would expect this is a perfectly natural thing to do but one recruitment consultant seemed genuinely stunned – ug. If I’ve learned anything in the past week, it’s that a Resume/CV is not a reliable way to judge a candidate’s application, but finding their digital footprints can often throw up some interesting and relevant stuff.

Of course, there’s a growing problem especially for the “younger generation” who grew up with The Internet that every stage of their lives is available for all to see, stuff that was created well before they even thought about getting a job and what a potential employer might think. Worse, on some sites (Facebook comes to mind) it’s not just what you write, it’s what your friends write!

Personally I find it valuable to get to know the “whole person” – we’re all individuals and I think that anyone who judges a candidate solely based on what they find online is making a statement about themselves and their prejudices rather than anything insightful about recruiting people.

However, I would advise candidates (and their recruitment consultants) to Google themselves and be prepared to engage in a conversation about whatever turns up. In addition it can’t hurt to lock down your Facebook profile for the duration of your job search.

I find it fascinating how “Social Media” has turned everyone into a publisher – and worse, their material is easy to find. In days gone by people would partition their lives into different phases and zones – just think of the awkwardness of meeting a colleague when you’re out shopping with your family. Work/Home/School would not intermix too much and could almost have different personas for each. Now it’s all visible, and in the process we’re having to get to know and accept each other and ourselves as fully-rounded people – which isn’t comfortable for some, but I think makes for a richer experience in the long run.

Why you should blog

Every blogger has to answer the question “Why are you bothering?”, even if it’s from exasperated co-workers! In an effort to perhaps encourage others, here’s why I bother…

One of the major benefits is slightly counter-intuitive – it forces you to be reflective. Doesn’t matter if there’s no audience, just sitting down and writing something regularly changes your thought processes, crystallizes half-formed ideas, causes you to reflect etc.

The second benefit is it initiates a conversation, both online and in person. I read a lot – again, some might say too much. But that breadth of reading is a huge open window bringing fresh intellectual air into my company, and blogging ensures we both participate and benefit from that.

I’m me, and I know others are different. I have a particular role in my company, we’re in a specific industry with a certain commercial stance. I’m lucky that I can skim through 1,000 incoming items every day and find the interesting stuff, blogging or forwarding internally as needed. I’m also a person who needs to either bounce ideas off someone or have to write something before and idea crystallizes. I’m also lucky that I have a lot of autonomy in terms of how I do my job and contribute to the success of my company.

However even if you aren’t exactly like me, you’d find something in Blogging – both personally, and professionally. Here’s an excellent 1.5 minute segment by Seth Godin and Tom Peters on why you should blog, I was quite surprised by the strength of Tom Peters’s comments on the positive nature of blogging on his professional life:

My only problem with blogging so far is that I often have ideas about what to blog when I’m interacting with prospects, customers, partners etc. But it would feel wrong to blog those thoughts straight away – it just doesn’t feel respectful. My current approach is to make a note of it, wait until I’ve got several anecdotes which support the same overall concept, and then blog on it a month or so later.

What I learned this week about writing articles

Sometimes our marketing Peeps put me into a small box and demand I write an article for something or other. I’m meant to say something relevant and thought provoking.

I’ve been on one our sales weeks this week – 4 days, 3 cities, loads of companies with the “We need something more appropriate for today’s research than a Paper Notebook” problem. Very inspiring.

It’s a lot easier to write something interesting and relevant in between meetings with real people, with real problems. I find sitting in the office a little sterile. So at expense of my poor colleagues who have had to do all the driving, I hope my output this week has been interesting and thought provoking :-). We shall see!

(and this is probably a good time to apologise for the car choice… um, sorry. Never again etc.)