Monday, November 01, 2010

On being Google-able

Today my Twitter stream includes this observation from Rob Brown.

Being anonymous does not serve your purposes. If people find nothing about you online, they move on to the next candidate.
I was surprised that this has been his experience. It is certainly not mine. Although my CV contains links to various parts of my digital footprint, I have found that these are seldom followed. When applying for jobs or bidding for work, I openly invite people to research me online to gain fuller picture of the person behind the application/bid/tender.

On one occasion, I applied for a particular job at a large organisation which claims to be progressive and innovative. The man who would line manage the role set up a phone interview. In preparation, I googled him, and partway into the interview, I asked a question based on something I had learned from this research.

He was slightly taken aback and asked, "How did you know that?"
"I googled you," I explained.

There was a pause.

"You did what?"
"I googled you. I did a search on your name on Google. I had already researched the company, and I wanted to learn a bit about you. After all, we would be working together."

The whole interview changed after that. Not only had he not done any research into me, but he was affronted that I had taken this bold step. To him, what I had done was tantamount to stalking. I might as well have rifled through his garbage can and taken photos of his wife collecting his kids from school.

I wanted to have the argument with him. To explain that, if you put stuff out there in public space, it is with the tacit understanding that people can and will access it. I wanted to point out how much more he could have known about me, had he reciprocated.

But there seemed to be no point. There was no way he was going to hire me after that. Besides, I wasn't sure that there would be space for me in an organisation which didn't seek to leverage every available means of effective talent management.

Bearing in mind that I work in the field of online learning, and the beneficial use of social media in the workplace, you would think that my (very) public profile would take a lot of hits from people considering doing business with me.

I wish.


Clint Lalonde said...

That was some "progressive" company, eh? Bet you are breathing a big sigh of relief you found this out during the interview and not 6 months into the job.

M Coleman said...

The perspectives certainly do run the gamut - I'm always surprised by the reactions of some who 'claim' to know and be a part of the social network. Room for lots of conversation! :)

Unknown said...

In a staff meeting recently, a colleague mentioned that he did not have a "Web Presence." I then proceeded to Google him and pointed out that Google showed over 3000 hits for his name and town and that the first 7 were about him, including a link to "Rate My Teacher." It is amazing how people do not realize that in this day and age, it's not whether you have a Web Presence, but how do you manage your reputation!