Like I said, waiting is very hard to do…

You Are What You Post

Do you give good Google? It's the preoccupation du jour as Google hits become the new Q ratings for the creative class. Search engines provide endless opportunities for ego surfing, Google bombing (influencing traffic so it spikes a particular site), and Google juicing (enhancing one's "brand" in the era of micro-celebrity). Follow someone too closely and you could be accused of being a Google stalker. Follow yourself too closely: Google narcissist.

But Googling people is also becoming a way for bosses and headhunters to do continuous and stealthy background checks on employees, no disclosure required. Google is an end run around discrimination laws, inasmuch as employers can find out all manner of information — some of it for a nominal fee — that is legally off limits in interviews: your age, your martial status, the value of your house (along with an aerial photograph of it), the average net worth of your neighbors, fraternity pranks, stuff you wrote in college, liens, bankruptcies, political affiliations, and the names and ages of your children.

What A Tangled Web We Weave
– Being Googled can jeopardize your job search

You may be the perfect candidate for the job, but if your name pulls up something incriminating in a Google search, you could lose your shot. "People do need to keep in mind that the information they post online – whether in a résumé, profile or otherwise – should be considered public information," warns Danielle C. Perry, director of public relations at Sure, you may not have intentionally posted something controversial about yourself online, but from blogs to dating profiles, the Web has become a place where people air dirty laundry without a thought, making it a dangerous place to mix business with pleasure.

Bloggers may also have reason for concern. When Ciara Healy applied for a job at a university, she had no idea her personal blog could get her into trouble. But when a member of the search committee Googled her, he found she had called him a "belligerent jerk," though not by name, and canceled the interview. "I almost immediately deleted the blog," wrote Healy via E-mail. For obvious reasons, Healy doesn't think employers should Google candidates, but also because she doesn't believe that one's entire life should be up for review. "What is on the table at an interview should be skills, detectible levels of craziness, overall impression and a good fit in the workplace," she writes, "not your foibles, rants, petty opinions or brilliant insights."

This "rant/petty opinion/briliiant insight" (I have no foibles) isn't about getting Dooced. This blog isn't about work. And, I have recently added a disclaimer…for whatever good it'll do. Rather, the present state of paranoia comes from a realization that the vast majority of employers simply DO NOT want to find out their employees and potential employers are blogging. Period.

And, this isn't because of the "lost productivity during work hours" or the "sordid tales of the company outing" or the RSS exposure of any illegal activities. No, they don't want employees blogging because of CONTROL. Control of thought. Control of the limits of thought. Control of the outlet of thought. It is surely frightening for them to consider an entire cadre of employees tap tap tapping away and sharing their foibles…

But, aren't we all entitled to a certain Freedom of Expression?

So, when taken in the context of an actual job search…where a lazy HR person is actually supposed to check a persons background (as opposed to a current employer merely stumbling upon the site of an employee)…it is understandable for a blogger to be a little paranoid. You have little control over what they find when they do the online search. AND, you will never know if that is what kept you from getting the job.

Go ahead and Google / Yahoo / Hakuna / yourself…go ahead and put in your full name…

What did you find? Are you a little scared now? Will you amend what you've published?

So, the obvious reaction is to just stop blogging. Or, at a minimum, never include a reference/connection to anything remotely personal.

Sure, that's an easy solution. But, it's only easy if it's not too late. If the cat's out of the bag already…if Pandora's box has long been opened…unless something was posted to the internet WELL before an active job search was EVER considered…then, too bad. AND, what about stuff posted by entities over which a person has no direct control? The Middle School Future HomeMakers Association of America posts their Chapter Membership and Officers List on the internet in 1992. Does a potential employer weigh that "past history" when considering a candidate? What about that membership in the College Radicals? What about signing an online petition for One? What about anything????????

And, should the person that didn't consider this possibility beforehand be penalized? How dare he/she get caught up in all that internet idealism mumbo jumbo. If he/she didn't realize the wolves will always be out there trying to blow down the house, then tuff.

WriterMother, a great source of idealism, says that any company that would make a hiring decision based off finding blogs/sites containing "opinion" during an internet background search is NOT a company for which it is worth working. And, she's right. Another friend, though, says that companies don't want truth and honesty…they want someone willing to play the game. And, he's right too.

I've played the game, though. I gave at the office. I'd rather be idealistic.

Is the lesson here that if we want to write something, we shouldn't give ourself the byline credit? I don't think so.