Huffy Responses to a Huffington Post Post
The writer reads a job hunting article and reviews the commenters
Susan P. Joyce has been writing about job hunting for many years. She has her own, job-search group on LinkedIn and she is Editor and chief technology writer of Job-Hunt.org. She and I share many similar ideas on job hunting and we’ve exchanged enough messages that I consider her an online friend.
A few days ago, Susan posted an article on The Huffington Post, “What 80% Of Employers Do Before Inviting You For An Interview.” (See the link below.) In brief, she wrote that job hunters should be aware that a vast majority of HR managers, when looking at a good résumé, will try to confirm the facts on the résumé with a Google search. If what they find is agreeable, they might invite them in for an interview. So, it’s a good idea to have a LinkedIn profile and other online landing sites for your job hunt. You should also Google yourself and see what turns up.
This is good, basic, job hunting advice. Nothing extreme or revolutionary. Heck, this was standard advice five years ago. Yet, judging from the reader comments after the article, you’d think that she had advocated the overthrow of the U.S. Government and sending all white people back to Europe where they belong. (Let’s ignore the facts that today’s Congress actually makes that sound attractive, and I like Europe — but that’s a post for another day.)
The comments riveted me more than the article. (Sorry, Susan. The article did make a lot of sense.) The surprise was that so many people took offense at her ideas. I divided up the responses this way:
I’m proud of the fact that nobody can find anything about me with a Google search.
Well, there may be some comfort these days in anonymity. Some people have obviously not embraced social media. Or even civilization. But, if you don’t show up in a Google search, there are other online tools that will find info about you.
But, really, if you have aspirations of being a leader (or at least, of being competent) in your field and you are looking for a job, anonymity is NOT your friend! If I’m a hiring manager faced with a choice between somebody who is publicly active in the field and Ms. Anonymous, who do you think I’ll hire?
I was an HR Director / Hiring Manager and I would never use Google (or the Internet) to spy on people.
Well, welcome to the 21st century. Let’s say you’re a thoroughly modern HR Director. You’ve narrowed the search down to 10 great looking résumés and you know that many people lie on their résumés. Wouldn’t your employer expect you to use easy tools to confirm the info in those applications?
You can call references, but managers in business are afraid to give more than “Yes they worked here on those dates. Yes, I paid them.” So, check online. Checking Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is just due diligence these days. It also gives you some ideas on what to talk about on their interview.
I used my intuition and conversation to determine that somebody would be a good candidate.
I thought this was an amazing statement by a hiring manager. These days, when a bad hire costs thousands and lots of unproductive time, you hire on intuition? You never check facts? Well, good for you. Hope you find a job after you’re fired for a bad hire.
Privacy is a right. How dare they invade mine.
Several of the commenters appear to think that privacy once was common and is a right. I’m not sure that was ever really true. But, even if there once was a golden age of privacy, we’ve blithely given it away. We share online. We give our private information to corporations and advertisers. If I find an interesting ebook, I gladly give my email address for a free copy. Target gives me a 5% discount to track my purchases. I allow my grocer to track my eating habits for another discount. I blog, tweet, post and announce. I’d be frustrated if nobody noticed.
Ironically, a few of the privacy advocates apparently gave their real names when commenting on the article, thus making them more Google-able.
I don’t care. I have a common name and nobody can find me on Google, anyway.
If you want to be anonymous, there is some small comfort in knowing you won’t be found in the first six pages of a Google search of your name. But, remember, we’re talking job search. You just gave HR a résumé with your address, phone number, email address, your former employers, where you used to live, and possibly your social security number. If you don’t show up in Google, that’s just a challenge to search some more.
Most people have no idea how much info is available online. I can go to a “detective” site, pay about $15, and find out what kind of neighborhood you live in, what your house looks like, how many homes on your street have been burgled, if you’re a sex offender, who your neighbors are, what they do for a living, how much you paid for your home, your arrest record, your tax assessment, the names of your spouse and children, whether you’ve been divorced or married, if you’re behind in your alimony, if you’ve been sued, whether you ever showed up in the news, and much, much more. It’s scary. Really scary.
And you’re worried that an HR person is Googling you? Better to give them something to find quickly.
I’ll just create a fake LinkedIn profile. -or- I just lie to get my job, then do my best. They’re lucky to have me.
Aside from the basic immorality here, don’t you believe that people get fired for lying on their job applications or their résumé? If I’m your manager and learn that you lied to get your job, why should I trust what you are telling me now?
A Better Plan for Job Hunting
Rather than wishing for anonymity, a better plan is self-marketing (and “Defensive Googling” as Susan suggests). Promote yourself with a LinkedIn profile, a Google+ bio, an online résumé, a blog, a public Twitter account, and other ideas she mentions in her article. Develop the content you would be proud to have found on a Google search.
And don’t be stupid online. Anything you do there can, and probably will, eventually be found. So, maybe it’s not a great idea to be using the F-bomb on your social media posts and videos all the time, or to have photos and videos of you doing stupid (or illegal) stuff on your Facebook page. If you’re so insecure that you need to rail against your favorite hated minority on Facebook, at the very least check your privacy settings so we don’t have to read it.
What are these people thinking?
I come to a few conclusions after reading the comments on Susan’s post. (And, please, I’m not suggesting that Susan’s writing attracts only these kinds of readers. Nor am I suggesting that this blog’s readers are like them!)
- Many people are afraid of change when they remember they were better off before all that change happened.
- A lot of people still don’t understand social media, both the good and the bad. Nor do they understand privacy.
- Job hunting has changed fundamentally in the 21st century. Not all the changes are good, but if you don’t change the way you look for work, you are doomed to failure.
- There really are idiots out there. (Who’s an idiot? Somebody who hears good advice and not only ignores it, but criticizes it. I should know, I’ve been an idiot. But that’s a blog post for another day. Or not.)
- Post truth online and you may get spammed. Or not. (See comments below to see what happens.)
Susan P. Joyce, “What 80% Of Employers Do Before Inviting You For An Interview“,
on The Huffington Post, March 1, 2014.
Shouting Businessman photo by “imagerymajestic” and FreeDigitalPhotos.net. Altered for drama with Topaz Adjust 5 by the author.