I don’t understand this obsession to know what everyone is doing, or to tell everyone what I’m doing
Jane Perdue, MBA, CEO and founder of The Braithewaite Group, is a leadership consultant, coach, speaker and author who challenges your thinking at the intersection of the art of leadership and the science of business. The Braithewaite Group, is a small female-owned professional development and leadership consulting firm. Jane’s career includes 20 years of executive level leadership, with 15 of those years spent as a Vice President for Fortune 100 companies. She writes a job coach column for the Charleston, SC Post and Courier and has made speaking and TV appearances discussing leadership, purpose, power and performance. Read Jane’s response to Private Patty below.
Dear Office Politics,
Your site is a great help in navigating today’s workplace! I’ve read about how you need to develop an online presence because employers will search your name to see what comes up. I’m a very private person and I’m at a loss about how to do this. I was raised to believe that your personal life was just that: personal. I don’t have a Facebook page and I don’t “tweet” whatever that is! I don’t understand this obsession to know what everyone is doing, or to tell everyone what I’m doing. Is there hope for someone like me who likes her privacy?
I have a website portfolio that I started, but it is listed under my last name and doesn’t come up in a random search. Is it enough to direct people to my homepage so they can see what I’ve done?
OFFICE-POLITICS ADVISER JANE PERDUE
Dear Private Patty,
Thank for your kind words about Dear OP – we appreciate hearing that you find our counsel helpful!
Why do people go online?
The top reasons, according to PR firm Ruder Finn’s Intent Index include learning, having fun and socializing. Those needs can be fulfilled online – or off-line. So I do think there’s hope for private people like you who don’t need or want to create a personal digital footprint. and with all the recent coverage of Facebook’s privacy controls, I understand your concerns.
According to a CareerBuilder survey, 45 percent of employers noted that they scout social networks as part of their employment process. “Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities and promote your personal brand across the Internet,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Make sure you are using this resource to your advantage by conveying a professional image and underscoring your qualifications.”
Consider how you’re placing yourself at a disadvantage with a narrow online profile:
Unless your work requires it (PR or blogging as examples) or would be enhanced by it (an artist seeking to promote her work), there’s no hard and fast rule that requires a job seeker to have an online presence. By not having a robust social media presence, you dramatically decrease the odds of a prospective employer discovering unsavory information about you. However, you miss out on unique opportunities to showcase and highlight skills and accomplishments that would differentiate you from the multitudes of other applicants.
You don’t say what the content of your website portfolio is or if it may be related to your work. So, presuming it does not, there’s no requirement to disclose it to a potential employer. But if the content helps to demonstrate your abilities, it’s a good forum for you to strut your stuff.
Networking and relationship building
By opting out of social networks, you don’t make pivotal connections that could help you secure your next position. Many creative high-end recruiters review social media sites looking for passive candidates, e.g. people who are not even looking for a job but who have the right skills. LinkedIn is another example of how you – the job seeker – can use social media to your advantage. LinkedIn allows you to reach out to people already working at organizations you might be interested in so you can check them out. What a great way to get the inside scoop!
Countless jobs, volunteer positions, mastermind groups, etc. are promoted exclusively online through Twitter, Facebook, etc. Who knows, the perfect break for you might exist just one click away. But for Twitter and an ensuing connection with Franke James, I would have never had the delightful occasion to offer this counsel to you. Nor would I have secured consulting work, speaking engagements, writing assignments or made connections with so many incredible people who enrich my life every day.
So how can you be true to your values — and not miss the great opportunities that Career Builder’s VP Haefner talks about? If you do decide to jump into social media, Career Builder provides these helpful tips for maintaining a positive online image:
“1) DO clean up digital dirt BEFORE you begin your job search. Remove any photos, content and links that can work against you in an employer’s eyes.
2) DO consider creating your own professional group on sites like Facebook or BrightFuse.com to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.
3) DO keep gripes offline. Keep the content focused on the positive, whether that relates to professional or personal information. Makes sure to highlight specific accomplishments inside and outside of work.
4) DON’T forget others can see your friends, so be selective about who you accept as friends. Monitor comments made by others. Consider using the “block comments” feature or setting your profile to “private” so only designated friends can view it.
5) DON’T mention your job search if you’re still employed.”
One last caveat
While you’ve chosen to forgo being on Twitter or Facebook, remember that total privacy is elusive, if not impossible to achieve. Information that friends or companies share about you is available online without your participation and/or permission. For an eye-opening illustration of how true this is, visit www.spokeo.com (for US residents only) and type in your name. Is their information correct or totally off base? Spokeo aggregates information from a variety of online and other public sources to create their profiles. As Spokeo discloses on their website, “Since there is no human involved, the data is not verified and might not be accurate.” But right or wrong, it’s all there – and all without you doing a thing! (Of course, around the world people can also “Google” your name. Enter in your name and see what they’ll find.)
A March 16, 2010 New York Times article How Privacy Vanishes Online quotes Jon Kleinberg, a Cornell University computer science professor: “When you’re doing stuff online, you should behave as if you’re doing it in public – because increasingly, it is.” I use this good advice for my online conduct.
Patty, you need to do what makes sense for you and aligns with your values and beliefs, which appears to be opting for less online visibility. Just remember that you’ll miss out on an opportunity or two or more…and that total privacy is an illusion.
Thanks for writing to OfficePolitics.com — and you can find me on Twitter at this location.
The HR Goddess
About Jane Perdue, MBA
Jane Perdue, MBA, CEO and founder of The Braithewaite Group, is a leadership consultant, coach, speaker and author who challenges your thinking at the intersection of the art of leadership and the science of business. The Braithewaite Group, is a small female-owned professional development and leadership consulting firm focusing on that exquisite but rare business balance between head and heart.
Jane’s career includes 20 years of executive level leadership, with 15 of those years spent as a Vice President for Fortune 100 companies. She writes a job coach column for the Charleston, SC Post and Courier and has made speaking and TV appearances discussing leadership, purpose, power and performance. Jane works with organizations and individuals to bring a sense of fun, adventure and limitless possibility — along with creative and playful thinking — to leading people, achieving common visions, delivering results and being our personal best.