“I looked you up”

I’ve recently been doing a lot of interviewing — both of engineers and managers — to fill a couple open positions in our organization.  Let’s get this out of the way … if I’m interviewing you, I’m checking LinkedIn to see if we’re connected.  If you have a blog, I’m reading a couple posts in it.  I’m probably not bothering to do a full search on your name, but I’m definitely not going to go into our interview with just your resume as a start.  I fully expect you to do the same to me.

I had one candidate offer an awkward roundabout explanation for how they stumbled onto my blog.  I mean, I’m thrilled!  You cared enough to look up everyone who was interviewing you, and then bothered to read a few articles I had written? You get positive points for that, not a deduction.  But it shows that we’re still figuring out in the modern workplace how to talk to someone about their online presence.  “I googled you” has a bit of a negative connotation to it, but if what you find when you do it is that the person has taken care to curate their digital image, in most cases I don’t think they’re going to be upset that you “found” them. (All I felt was a bit embarrassed at how long it had been since my last post!)

One candidate’s resume got my attention because under their hobbies, they listed blogging.  It was like a secret codeword: “go ahead and look me up.”  I did.  I liked what they wrote about.  It helped get them further along the process.  Now, I don’t know how a technophobic manager would receive that, but I guess I have to wonder how someone who blogs as a hobby would handle working for someone like that anyway.

On the flip side of the coin, there were a couple candidates who weren’t on LinkedIn at all.  This isn’t necessarily an issue, but I was surprised someone looking for a management position (which requires some knowledge of networking, usually) has chosen not to network on the most popular business social networking site.  It’s either a conscious choice or a surprising lack of insight into the modern workplace.  Either one at least raises a yellow flag for me, and I’m going to proceed with caution.

Those of us who deal with social media on a daily basis are talking about things like curating your Facebook profile and search results for maximum benefit to your personal brand.  It’s easy to forget that there are people who don’t live and breathe this stuff like we do.  We need to make sure our rules of engagement and expectations are tailored for them as well.