Last night I had dinner with a friend, a hiring manager at a Hi-Tech company. We chatted about work, her recent hirings and how she chooses the best people for the job. She was full of stories, some of them quite entertaining, about what she found online when looking for employees.
To her, a person’s digital footprint was a window to his or her true character. Below is some of what she recounted, in her own words:
“I always look at every candidate online. First, I’d like to see that they exist! I want to know that they are engaged in the world, to see how they interact on social media, and witness their online personality. You can learn a lot about a person by their online personality. In this day and age, if someone doesn’t have an internet presence, there’s something wrong. So I want to see that candidates have presence on the internet and on social media.
I definitely look on Facebook, and at anything else I can find online about the person who’s looking to work for me. I had a guy once whose resume looked perfect on paper. He had every type of qualification I needed, and his experience was great. Then, I saw his Facebook page... It was all written from the point of view of his cat. It was a creative idea but his “cat” was not a nice or a loving cat, to say it in an understatement. I don’t really care about his real cat’s personality, but this guy chose to put a lot of nasty content on FB in the name of his cat. It also turned me off that he couldn’t represent himself straight online, as a person and not as an avatar.
Then, there was the woman who had a blog, and the blog was dedicated to descriptions of her hatred of her current job. She wrote in detail about how she disliked her boss as well as the work that she was doing, and her plans to leave her position. Poor judgement! Why would I want to hire someone who dedicates her time to writing and broadcasting complaints about her work? Is this the way one would like to present herself to the world? I didn’t think she was someone I’d like to have around in my office.
Another person made it clear on FB that he was very lonely and depressed. I don’t like to be judgmental, people can go through bad periods, we all do. But at the same time, I don’t want to have to worry too much about an employee’s emotional and social problems. It’s the sad truth.”
I will leave you here with this hiring manager's candid words as food for thought. We are all human, but we also have a choice, and we definitely have control over what we decide to broadcast online. It's up to us to determine how we choose to contribute to society (and to our own future prospects) by what we put online.
More information about how character is judged online by admissions officers and employers can be found here.