Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thoughts on the Job Hunt and the Internet

When I started my final year of engineering, I started thinking about post-University employment: The Job Hunt™. Having hired a few summers' worth of staff at SCI-FI, I had a pretty good idea of how to make a good resume but I hadn't actually applied for a job in years.

We now generally accept that there is a fair chance prospective employers will Google search or Facebook search their applicants. Conscious of this, I made a digital strategy for my job hunt:
  1. Use my homepage to supplement my resume;
  2. Keep my web presence as professional as possible, and
  3. Not post anything about the job hunt itself.
Regarding Point #1, my homepage is still more or less the same as it was when I was looking for employment (but is now updated to show that I am employed). Long resumes can be a drag for employers sifting through a big pile, but reasoning was that if an employer wants to know a few more things about me, they can follow links from my resume to find more details about my projects and experience. I also printed business cards (clean and simple) with my name, phone number, email, and website. Since few students have business cards, it was a differentiator. 

Something I'm happy about: brahm.ca and blog.brahm.ca are the third and fourth Google.ca result for "brahm" - a nice perk of having a unique name (thanks Mom and Dad!). 

For Point #2, my Facebook account (when I still had it) was always very private, and my Twitter account was mostly updates about SCI-FI and school. During the job hunt I always, always kept the tone moderate - I didn't post anything too crazy in the public eye. Not that I'm a wild child offline, but everything you do and how you do it communicates something about you. It's easy for anyone to interpret (or misinterpret) your attitude and professionalism based on the tone of your online comments.

For Point #3, I've always been baffled by people who post public updates about their job hunts on Twitter or Facebook. Here's my reasoning:
  • Your job interview is your first private interaction with your (potential) employer. They would never post their list of interviewees on Twitter, so why broadcast where you're interviewing? 
  • If companies are Googling candidates as the media suggests, and your public history is full of interviews and applications, is that company going to think you're really interested in working for them, or just looking for any place that will hire you?
  • If ABC and XYZ are competitors, what will XYZ think when you update your Facebook status to "rejected by ABC"? Will XYZ hire someone the competition passes over? 
I would LOVE to hear from you if you think I'm totally wrong about Point #3. Leave me a comment or shoot me an email. For the record, I'm not calling anyone out specifically... this seems to be very common behaviour, and who knows, maybe I'm overestimating the potential impact. 

Online presence is a small part of the job application process but because we live in The Future™ it's getting more important. Other factors can be much more significant in the application process, like your experience, education, resume layout and presentation, personality, interview performance, etc. But if you're applying for your dream job, why not ensure all of your bases are covered?