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Ask Slashdot: Is an Online Identity Important When Searching For Technical Jobs?

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the I-don't-know-who-you-are-anymore dept.

Businesses 358

First time accepted submitter quintessentialk writes "I'm looking for a new engineering job. I'm in my early 30s, and have a degree and some experience. I don't have an online presence. Does it matter? Is a record of tweets, blog posts, articles, etc. expected for prospective employees these days? What if one is completely un-googleable (i.e., nothing comes up, good or bad)? Though I haven't been 'trying' to hide, I only rarely use my full name online and don't even have a consistent pseudonym. I don't have a website, and haven't blogged or tweeted. I'm currently in a field which does not publish. Should I start now, or is an first-time tweeter/blogger in 2013 worse than someone with no presence at all?"

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358 comments

As the song asks... (3, Insightful)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year ago | (#44085307)

What do you do do?

If you're in IT especially and you're invisible you're suspicious. Lots of job applicants. What makes you stand out?

Re:As the song asks... (5, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#44085379)

If you're in IT especially and you're invisible you're suspicious. Lots of job applicants. What makes you stand out?

I expect to see this opinion in more than a few posts on this thread, yet I'm surprised.

I just can't imagine how spending one's time "tweeting" or maintaining a Facebook page has much to do with what kind of employee I want, unless perhaps those "tweets" particularly socially unacceptable.

I *might* do a search of technical forums to see what kind of tech questions and answers my applicant is giving / asking.

But why would I - why SHOULD I - give a shit about my applicant's "tweets" unless perhaps they deal with bizarre rape fantisies or something, in which case I might reasonably wonder why my applicant isn't smart enough to use an alias?

In other words, in my opinion, your "tweets" and Facebook prattle have no interest to me in terms of evaluating your job skills. In fact, I might be uncomfortable with someone who spends too much time in an on-line world.

Re: As the song asks... (1, Insightful)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about a year ago | (#44085463)

If your idea of "having an online presence" is tweeting and having a Facebook page, I would not hire you. Not that those are bad, but surely an IT guy can think of a thousand other ways of managing an online identity that are equally (or more) effective.

Re: As the song asks... (5, Insightful)

dos1 (2950945) | about a year ago | (#44085579)

Exactly. Facebook and Twitter is not "online presence" in which IT employers are interested. GitHub, Ohloh, commits to free software projects, mailing lists etc. - that's "online presence" you should care about. You'll for sure have a good impression of someone if you put his name in Google and then you immediately see commits to various VCS repositories. That's also some kind of proof of his skills.

Re: As the song asks... (4, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44085809)

Exactly. Facebook and Twitter is not "online presence" in which IT employers are interested. GitHub, Ohloh, commits to free software projects, mailing lists etc. - that's "online presence" you should care about. You'll for sure have a good impression of someone if you put his name in Google and then you immediately see commits to various VCS repositories. That's also some kind of proof of his skills.

Yeah, but so are the references from his previous employer. I know I for one *used* to contribute to free software on a regular basis, but these days rarely seem to find time. You'll find my name on mailing lists making suggestions, filing bug reports, and so on, but you probably won't see more than a handful of commits by me since long before github existed. Possibly even before git existed. That doesn't mean I haven't been doing work in a very wide variety of fields with a lot of different technologies. It's only by reading my CV and following up my references that you'd find out about that work, though. Or you could ask me in interview.

Re: As the song asks... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085891)

Then understand that people who do find time to do those things will stand out more than you.

Re: As the song asks... (1, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44085985)

Then understand that people who do find time to do those things will stand out more than you.

So I'm being penalized for working an 80 hour week for my current employer?

Is that really a sensible hiring policy?

Re: As the song asks... (-1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44086011)

That's also some kind of proof of his skills.

Yeah, but so are the references from his previous employer.

If his previous employer really thought he was good, he wouldn't be looking for a new job. I give a glowing reference to any ex-employee who asks for one. Why should I care if you hire a turd? When I am hiring, I have found references to be so unreliable, that I don't even both to ask for them.

Or you could ask me in interview.

For my last opening I got 200 resumes. I interviewed five of them. If your resume doesn't stand out, there will be no interview.

Re: As the song asks... (4, Insightful)

uniquename72 (1169497) | about a year ago | (#44085471)

If your idea of "having an online presence" is tweeting and having a Facebook page, I would not hire you.

Re: As the song asks... (5, Funny)

mrvan (973822) | about a year ago | (#44085559)

If your idea of "having an online presence" is posting everything twice so you double your 'presence', I would only hire you for marketing ;-)

Re: As the song asks... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085625)

What ever you say, Mr 1.2 million UID. What are you, 23 or 25 or something? Congrats on the call-center job, you mom is greatful you can afford to pay rent for the basement.

Re: As the song asks... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085487)

I agree completely. I would more likely hire someone with no Facebook or Twitter account because people with these, tend to spend half their work day checking, updating, chatting on it rather then working

Re: As the song asks... (1, Interesting)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year ago | (#44085765)

Je suis entièrement d'accord. Je serais plus susceptibles embaucher quelqu'un sans compte Facebook ou Twitter parce que les gens avec ceux-ci, ont tendance à consacrer la moitié de leur vérification de la journée de travail, mise à jour, bavarder sur elle plutôt que de travailler

Re:As the song asks... (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year ago | (#44085525)

Indeed, none of this stuff is an issue when looking for a job. I wonder what these guys with 100,000+ contributions to StackOverflow are doing with their life. I'm too busy coding and don't even have time to ask questions on there, let alone post 1000 times even in five years.

Re: As the song asks... (2)

Threni (635302) | about a year ago | (#44085693)

They're probably writing all the APIs and libraries you're using.

Re: As the song asks... (1, Interesting)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year ago | (#44085777)

Ils sont probablement écrit toutes les API et bibliothèques que vous utilisez.

Re:As the song asks... (4, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about a year ago | (#44085957)

I wonder what these guys with 100,000+ contributions to StackOverflow are doing with their life.

Some of them are doing quite well, actually. I have been a frequent reader of Alan Storm's [alanstorm.com] site, as he seems to be one of the very very few who have managed to take a large chunk of poorly documented code and literally write a book on it. He's a regular contributor to Stackoverflow (and the Magento offshoot) and I can say without a doubt, his "online presence" makes him a very sought-after developer (aside from, you know, being a good developer to begin with).

Re:As the song asks... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085535)

"On-line presence" = Wasting time on narcissistic, unproductive and ultimately useless activities.

Re:As the song asks... (3, Insightful)

djsmiley (752149) | about a year ago | (#44085639)

Isn't _everything_ ultimately useless? especially working for some kind of finacial reward which you'll spend on ultimately useless possessions or experiences.

Re:As the song asks... (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44085667)

Do you have a pain in all the diodes on your left side?

Re:As the song asks... (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44085811)

especially working for some kind of finacial reward which you'll spend on ultimately useless possessions or experiences.

What, like Shelter, food, water, plumbing, air conditioning, telephone, internet connectivity?

I for one would want to be the kind of person that gets a lot of financial reward.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44085785)

"On-line presence" = Wasting time on narcissistic, unproductive and ultimately useless activities.

I have an online presence. I post on Slashdot. I chat on IRC.

Not that I would dare provide a prospective employer with my pseudonyms, or dare post my real name (instead of an assumed name or chosen nae) to my profile on Slashdot, Twitter, Facebook, or any other online service.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

Cabriel (803429) | about a year ago | (#44085615)

I expect to see this opinion in more than a few posts on this thread, yet I'm surprised.

I just can't imagine how spending one's time "tweeting" or maintaining a Facebook page has much to do with what kind of employee I want, unless perhaps those "tweets" particularly socially unacceptable.

Two words: Technological familiarity. Just because a person managed to get a degree and some experience doesn't mean they are good at what they do. Using more "tech" shows greater ability to adapt and learn. To a strong degree, it can also be a stronger indicator of personality traits which may help the job and also show those traits which could hurt the job. After all, someone who tweets and posts pictures about getting hammered at work (or any other imaginable bad practices) probably isn't the applicant you're looking for. It's not mentioned in the summary what kind of engineering position the submitter is looking for, so this is the best I can guess.

Re:As the song asks... (2)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | about a year ago | (#44085623)

I just can't imagine how spending one's time "tweeting" or maintaining a Facebook page has much to do with what kind of employee I want, unless perhaps those "tweets" particularly socially unacceptable.

I keep seeing positions that ask for your github username and list of opensource projects you've committed to.

Which is a bit narrow minded, I've done probably 30 hours worth of coding in my free time last week, but none of it's in github, and never will be.

Not all the opensource stuff I use at work is buggy enough for me to commit a patch unfortunately :/

Re:As the song asks... (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44085869)

Which is a bit narrow minded, I've done probably 30 hours worth of coding in my free time last week, but none of it's in github, and never will be.

This.

Some of us are working on non-open-source projects, because we have ideas we think might be profitable.

Some of us are working on projects that may become open source but don't want to publish until they're ready for end users (which could, in many cases, take years).

Some of us are working for startups that demand 80 hours a week of our time and don't have any time left for personal projects.

Not everyone can be judged by the same metrics.

Re:As the song asks... (2)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44085729)

I *might* do a search of technical forums to see what kind of tech questions and answers my applicant is giving / asking.

The applicant probably have posted on such forums using a handle or assumed name. Many people don't use their real name

Furthermore, some unrelated person may have posted to tech forums and twitter using the same name as the prospective hire.

There may be unsettling tweets posted by a twitter or facebook account holder with the name of the prospective hire's real name, BUT the poster may be an unrelated person.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

Anrego (830717) | about a year ago | (#44085807)

For the most part, people arn't hired purely for their technical skill.

Software development is mostly a team sport. How you fit in with the office culture, how easy you are to work with, how much ego and asshattery you bring to the table are as relevant or even more relevant than your technical chops. This becomes increasingly true as you move up the ladder.

There's still jobs that require the cliche "guy who spends every waking moment in his basement hacking out killer code" employee, but it's becoming a rarity.

That said, lots of people (including me) chose not to use facebook and friends but still maintain an active(ish) social life. Long as you don't come across as a hermit in the interview, I think you're probably fine.

Re:As the song asks... (5, Interesting)

PNutts (199112) | about a year ago | (#44085479)

What do you do do?

If you're in IT especially and you're invisible you're suspicious. Lots of job applicants. What makes you stand out?

Work experience, knowledge, the ability to share and communicate it directly, personality, hygene... the list goes on and on. I work with a blogger extrovert. His fascinating blog post with pictures, formatted tables, etc. that details his 14 year journey of using Microsoft mobile devices might be delightful for a hiring manager to read. I hope that hiring manager notices the post was made during work hours. And please no "he was on a break". It's a pattern of behavior. Even when the blog posts relate to the technology he uses at work, it takes him away from being a resource. It's fine if you want to tell the world what daddy did at work today. I don't see why an employer would tolerate it on their time.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#44085725)

hygene

Was that supposed to be "hygiene"? Your local work environment must be really desperate for people if knowing how to use a toothbrush and soap is supposed to be a relevant qualification.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

PNutts (199112) | about a year ago | (#44086045)

hygene

Was that supposed to be "hygiene"?

Yes. Early Sunday mornings my spelling also stinks.

Re: As the song asks... (1)

Cloud K (125581) | about a year ago | (#44085611)

Personally I try to keep my casual online name(s) and real name separate. And Facebook private. I don't mind a prospective employer viewing my LinkedIn profile and seeing who I am professionally, but who I am in private is my business apart from the official responses given in the interview and LinkedIn etc.

I don't need my interviewer knowing that I spend a lot of free time on a my little pony fan site. I'm not that stupid.

Re:As the song asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085635)

The fact that I don't waste my time on twitter and facebook apparently makes me stand out. I don't want to work at the company that bases their employment decisions on facebook postings.

Re:As the song asks... (1)

JohnnyConatus (904626) | about a year ago | (#44085735)

What sort of IT roles are you basing this opinion on? And are you a hiring manager?

I've been hiring developers for years and my experience is to the contrary. There are simply not enough skilled developers in most major metropolitan areas that I would ever weed someone out for not having a strong internet presence. Heck, that's why we have to use recruiters in the first place. I know some shops like to see a GitHub account or something like that but for enterprise developers this is not a reasonable prerequisite; the lion-share of their work cannot be legally shared.

Re:As the song asks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44086065)

What do you do do?

If you're in IT especially and you're invisible you're suspicious. Lots of job applicants. What makes you stand out?

Amazing how simple privacy is treated as suspect these days. Really?

I'm hiring a programmer to do a job, and unless that job entails blogging or tweeting, I could give a shit if you have an online presence or not, and would probably prefer I don't find countless hours spent online maintaining a rather pointless Facebook feed.

On top of that, one would expect the IT industry to be one of the first group of professionals to learn about publishing their private lives online. Plenty of lives and reputations have been destroyed by it. I don't expect the ignorant user to know better. I expect the opposite from an IT professional.

Depends on what you are applying for (5, Informative)

stigmato (843667) | about a year ago | (#44085309)

If you're a programmer looking for your next gig, having a slew of projects you've developed or worked on show up in Google can definitely help. Having lots of red party cup drunken pictures with your friends on a blog somewhere, however, will definitely hurt you.

Re:Depends on what you are applying for (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085381)

If you have a Facebook page, the business may demand your password.
If you don't have a Facebook page, the Department of Homeland Security says you might be a terrorist.
Either way, you're screwed.
Do what you want--nobody really cares.

But the real question is, "Why do you want to have an online presence?"
This questions relates to your viability as a functional person and employee that a company would want.

Re:Depends on what you are applying for (2)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44085727)

Employers asking for your social-media passwords is now illegal in several states. [reuters.com]

Re:Depends on what you are applying for (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about a year ago | (#44085411)

OTOH I've had several talks where having contributed to open source projects was counted as an advantage.

Do you need a clearance? (4, Insightful)

Technician (215283) | about a year ago | (#44085321)

If your technical job requires a TS or above clearance, it is best ot have very little presence. Party life or drug refrences in your posts will work against you in your background investigation for the clearance.

Re:Do you need a clearance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085519)

Depending on the nature of the job, not being able to find a visible presence at all online for you might serve as an excellent job reference in that area, the start of a new investigation, or both.

Not a single police force (5, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44085593)

Not a single police force has tried to hire me since I started using medical marijuana. Just try to get a pilot's license! Oddly, if you drink, they'll trust you not to fly drunk but if you use medical marijuana they won't trust you at all.

Re:Not a single police force (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about a year ago | (#44085931)

if you drink, they'll trust you not to fly drunk but if you use medical marijuana they won't trust you at all.

Probably has a lot to do with the fact that marijuana is still a schedule-1 drug, and completely illegal at the federal level.

Re:Do you need a clearance? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#44085649)

If your technical job requires a TS or above clearance...

ABOVE Top Secret?

Re:Do you need a clearance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085709)

Yes, there is "higher" than just top secret. SCI or SAP. It requires an SSBI. These are common requirements for many government IT jobs. Search any job board for those those terms.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._security_clearance_terms [wikipedia.org]

Re:Do you need a clearance? (3, Informative)

atriusofbricia (686672) | about a year ago | (#44085721)

If your technical job requires a TS or above clearance...

ABOVE Top Secret?

Yes... that's a thing.

Re:Do you need a clearance? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about a year ago | (#44085903)

No, it's a movie.

Re: Do you need a clearance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085779)

Ultra Double Top Secret Probation.

Re:Do you need a clearance? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#44085905)

Party life or drug refrences in your posts will work against you in your background investigation for the clearance.

I was curious about this, but I hadn't heard from anyone with actual knowledge...

I wonder more: does TS or above clearance require having or not having certain political opinions?

For example... if you join the EFF or post in opposition to the broadcast flag, 3 strikes, the DMCA, or the NSA's wiretapping program or government secret surveillance programs on a mailing list, or on Twitter.... Or if you blew the whistle on a past employer, or leaked evidence of criminal wrongdoing to the media: do any of those sorts of things render a person neligible from ever obtaining a clearance?

Or does the TS clearance process actually just look at actual criminal behavior, such as drug abuse, or drink and disorderly misconduct?

Damn Extroverts (5, Insightful)

danaris (525051) | about a year ago | (#44085339)

Frankly, any company that expects any given hire to have an extensive record of blog posts and tweets is not one I would really want to work for.

Not just because of the privacy implications, but because, in my view, that's expecting me to have a particular kind of personality: one that feels compelled to share everything, or at least a frequent chunk of what I do and think.

Unfortunately, this is just another manifestation of extroverts running most organizations and not even truly comprehending what it might be not to be an extrovert. So much of the hiring process and expectations in the workplace are centered around things that give extroverts a charge, but drain introverts' energy badly.

Just one of my big pet peeves X-P

Dan Aris

Re:Damn Extroverts (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44085673)

Who signs up to social media and internet forums with their real name?

Apart from you, obviously.

Re:Damn Extroverts (2)

Ash Vince (602485) | about a year ago | (#44085971)

Who signs up to social media and internet forums with their real name?

Apart from you, obviously.

Me as well. My real name is Ash Vincent.
I guess there are some of us who decided that not being an anonymous coward meant actually having the courage to have anything we post easily associated with our real life identity.

Re:Damn Extroverts (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44086041)

Sometimes I say things that are unpopular, but I feel they need to be said.

Silence speaks volumes (4, Insightful)

PairOfBlanks (2952901) | about a year ago | (#44085361)

I think your social media silence says quite a lot about what kind of person you are. If I were looking for someone to keep the company's secrets, it'd be you.

Re:Silence speaks volumes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085583)

I scrubbed most of my online presence. in my thirties its not a world for facebook. i still have pseudonym accounts on some parts of the web but i am not attached to them. sure some linguistic analysis might show me as being a persona on reddit or whatever, but i dont go advertise :) facebook et all are sinkholes of information gathering. see the onion video about mark zuckerberg getting an award from the cia for building facebook. the best humor has some truth

Online presence is a self-marketing tool (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085383)

There are two choices for online presence that makes sense to me:
  - avoid it completely
  or
  - use it only as a self-marketing tool. Only blog/tweet about technical stuff, no politics, current affairs, funny pictures. Only use social networks that bring value to you. I use LinkedIn, but it might be not useful for everyone. Always assume that whatever you put there is public, even if it says "private". Ignore trolls. Praise other projects freely, but be reluctant to post negative opinions. In general, be constructive.

Re:Online presence is a self-marketing tool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085613)

Only blog about politics, religion and current affairs when you don't need a job and supported by passive income alone. People are getting very sensitive about those stuff for some reason. I am not. I don't care.

Re:Online presence is a self-marketing tool (1)

Skewray (896393) | about a year ago | (#44085663)

I went to a job interview recently and one of the interviewers had a copy of my LinkedIn profile instead of my submitted resume. The two are essentially identical, which implies that I didn't tailor my resume to the job.

name? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085389)

what kind of a name do you have that 'nothing' comes up?

Re: name? (-1, Flamebait)

bigjocker (113512) | about a year ago | (#44085531)

Jaopyuinjiorestriopilotyuimoostrewalden Fropuyewastillotyoploterdasertewinverdanousik

Re: name? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085753)

Something comes up for that: this page.

Re:name? (1)

mrbester (200927) | about a year ago | (#44085875)

One they don't use online or is common enough that the signal gets lost in the noise. I'm fortunate to have both scenarios working for me, so even if you discover what my real name is, I don't show up in the first ten pages of search results.

I have never been asked about make believe (3, Funny)

kawabago (551139) | about a year ago | (#44085391)

I have never been asked about imaginary friends in job interviews. Am I missing something?

I'd say yes (1)

RenHoek (101570) | about a year ago | (#44085393)

You WILL be Googled. So I'd recommend at least having _some_ online presence. At least LinkedIn, which for technical people is pretty much a CV of what you have been doing over the past few years.

Not having a Facebook and such is actually a plus in my eyes.

You're better off without them. (5, Interesting)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about a year ago | (#44085395)

Honestly, you're better off without an online presence. Unless the company is looking to hire a full time blogger, if they do an internet search at all, it will only be to find out if there's any reason why they shouldn't hire you.

Re:You're better off without them. (2)

datavirtue (1104259) | about a year ago | (#44085573)

Spot on. This stuff is only going to be used for negative vetting. Creating a positive online presence that works for you is going to take a lot of time and careful planning. Make sure everything can be reversed.

Doesn't publish? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085397)

What field exists but doesn't publish? How else do the professors exist and gain qualifications? I'd make a joke about marketing but even they have journals.

Re:Doesn't publish? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about a year ago | (#44085843)

What field exists but doesn't publish?

If I told you, I'd have to ki&/@.;
n o c a r r i e r

Move quickly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085399)

You've got to show your prospective employers that you are a "team player". Throw up a Facebook account with all your real details, and upload all the photos you can find of yourself getting drunk with your friends.

Bonus points if you can show yourself passed out on the floor, or waving money around in a strip club - this will show your willingness to "get involved".

Don't worry about it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085407)

I don't have an online identity either and it hasn't hurt me, except for moderation of my posts here on Slashdot.

If you wanted to join Facebook or some social networking or games startup, a lack of online presence might be an issue. But, you might find that your age is a more serious obstacle as you move past their hiring sweet spot (21-34 I'd guess).

You might think about opening a Linkedin account, if your resume looks good.

OTOH Red Hat is one company that I've noticed prefers to hire someone with a track record submitting to open source projects. That's a lot different from blogging though.

Depends what you have to say about yourself (1)

ScottyLad (44798) | about a year ago | (#44085421)

Should I start now, or is an first-time tweeter/blogger in 2013 worse than someone with no presence at all?

When you begin blogging / posting is fairly irrelevant, but someone posting when they have nothing to say is definitely worse than having no online presence.

I'm in a similar situation. I'm in my late 30's, self-employed, and get most of my work (projects and contracts) by networking in the old-fashioned sense - phoning contacts every once in a while, taking people out to lunch, keeping in tough with agents and hiring managers. Lately though, many of the people I maintain relationships with in this way are increasingly asking for my website / linkedin / facebook details.

I'm not a fan of any of the major social and business networking sites, as I don't necessarily wish to be publicly associated with everyone I know. Perhaps I'm just old-fashioned (I am almost 40 years old, after all), but having bought in to the "share everything online" mentality on the AOL chatrooms in the mid 1990's, and having run a personal website from then until the early 2000's, I soon realised that too many people had easy access to my personal information, and retreated from these services.

Now I'm in the process of setting up an online personal presence for the first time in a while (I have a company website which is fine for my existing clients). I've decided to shun LinkedIn and Facebook as I don't trust their privacy policies, so I'm going with a blog instead. I had been about to start coding my personal website from scratch, but I've decided to use Wordpress for now, and see how I get on with it first. I figure if I can write my own plugins for WordPress to get my pages looking the way I want them to, then I have the benefit of any security updates to the WordPress Codex.

Like the original submitter, I'm keen to see what other people's opinions are on this matter.

No. Nobody cares (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | about a year ago | (#44085425)

Nobody's going to even look. All we care about is can you do the job. The only exception is if the job is in marketing, then they may care about your use of social media.

Re:No. Nobody cares (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year ago | (#44085549)

An exception is if you have a website where you show some of your projects. It can work as a portfolio.

But yes, if we are talking about some silly social media profiles or blogs, don't bother writing some dummy content, if you aren't passionate about that kind of media otherwise.

Re:No. Nobody cares (1)

urbanriot (924981) | about a year ago | (#44086017)

Yea, maybe things are different in Silicon Valley when applying to tech giant companies, but 'round these parts up here in Canada, no one cares what you do online. It's assumed that everyone uses Facebook and no one uses Twitter and anything else? No one cares.

The answer is... it depends (4, Informative)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about a year ago | (#44085455)

As a hiring manager, my focus is whether or not the applicant is able to do well in the position. I've never really concerned myself with the online presence of the applicant. I look at rummaging around in google to check out an applicant as more or less equivalent to hiring an investigator to do a background check. The fact that googling is easier and cheaper than hiring an investigator does not change the motive for doing so.

.
An exception would be if the applicant links to his professional online presence in the CV. Then I would use that as I would any other information on the CV. However the presence on the web does not make the information different than having the same information on the CV.

If I were hiring for a sensitive position where a background check is warranted, then I would do a real background check.

But if no background check is required, why go poking around in someone's private life.

Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085459)

It sounds like to much extra bullcrap to but up with to find a job, you have to have an online presence now? What happen to being in the real world? I honestly feel like we live in the dystopian computerized world of Christopher Anvil's Strangers to Paradise.

A few tips (4, Interesting)

vivaoporto (1064484) | about a year ago | (#44085517)

Having just sifted through about 100 CVs to find 5 of 6 potential candidates for a senior programmer opening let me fill you with some tips:

* First and foremost: do not pad your CV with things you barely know just to qualify. It's one thing if you used both MS SQL Server and MySQL interchangeably in your past employment but if you used exclusively SQL Server for the past 3 jobs and the requirement is "experience with MySQL" do not apply. Including "experience with MySQL" to trigger the keywords will be an indicator of desperation and lack of professionalism

* About the original question (online presence): it is detrimental unless you are world renowed in your field. Bruce Schneier can point to his online body of work but if yours consists only in presence in Facebook groups, an occasional post on some majordomo list for your pet language or, heavens forbid, a Linkedin account just ommit it. It won't get read and if it does, more likely than not it will show a side of you that would be better hidden.

* The only valuable online presence is a portfolio. Websites you were part of the development team if you area applying for a web developer position, website for the product or service you helped to create, anything that can prove the quality of your work and your qualifications.

* Last but not least important: hiring in this field is mostly about word of mouth and references. The first thing many companies do when trying to find someone qualified is to ask the current employees "do you know someone you can vouch for this position?" That is the surest way to get to the shortlist, to have someone to vouch for you by name.


Last, a little rant. Lucky for us Slashdot got bought by Dice so most of the "infomercials" are in form of people getting and giving advice about employment. Imagine if they had been bought by Sony or Microsoft, it would be a lot like when "jumptheshark.com" got bought by TV Guide only to be dismantled and destroyed.

Re:A few tips (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085607)

Slashdot got bought by Dice so most of the "infomercials" are in form of people getting and giving advice about employment.

I think you're reading too much into it. Career/employment pieces are a category that will always draw some readers here.

You can tell the articles placed by Dice, they are slick sounding "Here's some great tips" type pieces that the editors here distance themselves from.

Same here (1)

theskipper (461997) | about a year ago | (#44085565)

I considered the same thing a few months ago then backed off to rethink what I was trying to accomplish. Mainly because of the fear of screwing up, if you do mess up somehow there's no way back. That's obviously bad for a teenager in high school, it's in another league for a professional trying to advance his career.

What I realized was that creating a presence isn't necessarily an all-or-nothing affair. It's simply ranking by what could get out of hand. Meaning that on a scale of 1-10, Linkedin is targeted toward professionals so probably an 8, the Google circle thing is maybe a 5, Twitter is a 2 and Facebook is a zero.

My checklist ended up focusing on these four things:
- Controlling the blend of professional and personal information that gets out. The information you expose shouldn't allow one to divine your political views.
- How much of what you expose is tied to other people's social stuff. For example, could a retweet be misinterpreted or someone posting something offensive on your Facebook wall.
- Working it backwards, what would you like Google and Twitter to show then try to craft that. It's worth looking at what other people's profiles look like and use it as a template.
- How much time is going to be required to maintain my "social garden". Obviously the fewer services the better but only if they're worth the hassle.

(Btw, in the end I said screw it and decided to think about it some more)

Slightly Off Topic, But A Worse Situation (5, Interesting)

kackle (910159) | about a year ago | (#44085577)

I find myself in a similar situation. I am looking for a new job. I have never had time for an online presence, but an heavily foul-mouthed person, who shares my uncommon name, does. Worse, we're about the same age. Without looking like a nut job, how do I put on my resume that I am NOT that guy?

Re:Slightly Off Topic, But A Worse Situation (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085819)

Add a middle initial to your name on the resume.

After you've gone through an interview, in your follow-up/thank you email, mention that in a postscript.

Re:Slightly Off Topic, But A Worse Situation (2, Informative)

characterZer0 (138196) | about a year ago | (#44085831)

Does the other guy have a website? If so, create your own simple page with your CV, and put a note near the top "Looking for K. Ackle of Loudmouthville, TX? Click here [goatse.cx] ."

Re:Slightly Off Topic, goatse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085933)

Umm, if you want a job not in the online "film industry" do not provide a goatse link!!!!!!!!

Re:Slightly Off Topic, goatse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44086053)

Whoosh. (characterZer0 probably meant a link to the actual other guy, using goatse as a silly example.)

Seriously?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085599)

Beyond a basic background check-- maybe-- to make sure you're not a felon, an ex-con or some particularly dangerous idiot, no one cares.

The possible exception to this, I suppose, might be some amazingly new young company filled with amazing new young workers who will soon be crushed out of existence by other firms who make better use of their time than scouring the interwebs to see what kind of social media presence their new hires have instead of worrying about what their technical skills are.

Having it helps, not having it doesn't hurt (4, Insightful)

CrankyFool (680025) | about a year ago | (#44085627)

I work for a well-known technical company with tons of both open-source contributions and projects we've open-sourced ourselves; we have a techblog, and a presence in many conferences.

When we look at someone technical, we see if they have a presence online. That doesn't mean Twitter or Facebook -- we really don't care about them unless they're public and inappropriate -- but contributions to OSS, technical blog posts, talks, etc. If it's there, it may make us somewhat more interested.

That said, I have a few engineers working for me who are similarly Google-invisible, and who have no interest in creating OSS, speaking at conferences, or writing blog posts. That's not a problem. They weren't penalized when we interviewed them, and they're not penalized now.

I suspect that a company, given the choice between a famous engineer and a non-famous engineer who are equally qualified, may be biased to hire the famous engineer (in my company, we'd just hire both), so I suspect it's an informal edge, not an explicit expectation (most of the time).

Re:Having it helps, not having it doesn't hurt (1)

julesh (229690) | about a year ago | (#44085965)

It's possibly a little late to be cagey about which well-known tech company you work for, as their identity is clearly visible in your posting history.

Which perhaps has a bit of a lesson to teach about managing online identities...

have a degree does not all ways helps in IT (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44085665)

have a degree does not all ways helps in IT and CS is not IT Not helpdesk / desktop NOT sys admin and so on.

What I look for.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085669)

I don't know what type of engineer you are. I am an infrastructure manager for a large law firm and have hired several Infrastructure engineers for my company recently. (network, system, storage engineers).

I review resumes and if the person looks good, I see what they have on Linked and if it matches what is in the resume. I'll then do a basic Google search for their name and maybe a location or specific employer if I get too many results and spend about 30 seconds to 2 minutes opening up some of the results. The Google search does not hold too much weight. I never use Facebook as a reference and do not even open a results if they come up. Twitter I'll take a quick glance sometimes.

There is a significant amount of resumes that do not match what people have in Linked In. Some are way off. I know I'm looking at the same person as the resume I have because some of the information matches like contact info and maybe some of the jobs and times. In some cases with people doing contract work or consulting, they put the actually company they did the work for in the resume (Bethesda Army Hospital) but in Linked in, they put the name of the consulting company they work for (Booz Allen). I understand that but I have to connect the dots.

All of that being said... The resume I have in hand is the overwhelming reference I use to determine if I want to talk to them. Facebook and social networking is is just about 0%. Everyone has skeletons in their closet and has stuff they do in their off time. As long as you can get along with co-workers, the work is what matters. If your worship the devil in your off time and let everyone on Facebook know but your a very good Cisco engineer and have proven yourself worked in similar sized organizations as mine for at least a few years you have proven you are able to move up in the world of IT and hold down a job.

It doesn't matter at all. (1)

Random2 (1412773) | about a year ago | (#44085685)

As a new engineer, my lack of online presence didn't matter to the company that just hired me. I've always made a point of trying to obfuscate whatever I do, and that hasn't seemed to bother anyone I've ever applied to. I have yet to even get any requests for 'social media sites I use' or anything of that nature.

If anything they'd check a 'professional networking site' like Linked-In, but that'd be about it.

So, no it doesn't matter, and stay away from companies where it does. The last thing we need is for society to accept that snooping is 'good' or 'expected'.

Murderer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085707)

What if you share the same name as a murderer that comes up in Google as the 1st result?

What if your name is so common, that other people's identities totally suck, and it makes you look bad?

As some previous commentators have said, these results hold little weight. Then again, we are living in an era where most 20-somethings perceive things at face value. You know, lack of experience, compassion, and sympathy?

I've been out of work for a year, and have a blog that's disconnected from my real name, where I write dark comedy; yes, I write articles about workplace habits, but I don't trash people. It's funny, professionally, not some ranting teenager who thinks he's funny. I don't have a LinkedIn, and my Facebook only contains relatives. Amazing, though, everyone wants me to know "GIT" and Subversion and crap like that.

I suppose I'll have to release all my programming knowledge on GiT, to GIT a job.

Join and contribute to mailing lists (1)

jacobsm (661831) | about a year ago | (#44085719)

I'm a zOS Systems Programmer and one of my most used resources is the IBM-MAIN mailing list. If you can find one in your field that you can contribute to, your name will become a searchable item.

As a Technical Interviewer... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about a year ago | (#44085737)

I pay scant attention to resumes, except as a starting point and a way to see if you can string words together in a syntactically correct manner. Not having an online presence won't hurt you necessarily. After the receiving a resume the first thing I'll do is to google you to see if you have:

  • Public code contributions (Github, BitBucket, SourceForge, Launchpad, etc). This is probably the most important bullet on this list. I want to see that you're passionate about software development, and that you're taking the time to grow and learn outside of your day job.
  • Any kind of technical blog. I don't care about your blog about your love of spaghetti, I want to see if you are capable of communicating technical ideas, and more importantly that you see the value of sharing your knowledge with others. I'm not interested in working with introverts or knowledge hoarders, I want to work with people who are interested in building others up, making an impact on the lives of others, and helping other developers to grow.
  • Recommendations on LinkedIn. I don't care about endorsements; they're essentially worthless as the endorser doesn't need to put any thought into the skill being endorsed and how well the individual actually performed that skill. They simply click the endorse button and move on. Recommendations are different as they require some thought on the part of the recommender and show that the work that you did actually mattered to someone. It also also fairly easy to weed out the true recommendations from the "cookie-cutter" recommendations.
  • A low profile on Facebook, or failing that a "clean" public profile. Twitter is fine, with the same caveat that the profile is clean. Technologists who don't know how to manage their public interactions make me wonder how they manage their professional interactions.

I use this information to prepare for the technical interview, and make notes to call you out on your experience and listed skills. If you walk the walk it will show through in your online presence, face-to-face and pairing interview.

Not having these things is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you're fresh out of college, but having them lets you tell your story. Not to mention that if you have any length of experience I'd be suspicious if you didn't engage in at least some of these activities.

Re:As a Technical Interviewer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085835)

I'll take that into consideration for future interviews; everyone seems obsessed with GitHub repositories these days.

But let me ask you this: if my best code I've written is proprietary, how can I show that to you? Let alone, not having access to the source files. Makes me be the question: you want someone who just puts stuff online to show off, or do you want someone with a track record of getting the job done?

I bet the investors of a business want the latter, but I'm curious what matters here.

Re:As a Technical Interviewer... (1)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about a year ago | (#44086049)

if my best code I've written is proprietary, how can I show that to you?

This is why I look for recommendations and blog posts. I'm in the same boat that you're in, which is that my best code is proprietary. The solutions is to have others recommend your work and by writing about the things you learn. By this I don't mean that you post specifics about your code as it is the implementation of the concept or technique you have learned (not to mention posting chunks of proprietary code will get you fired or sued). It isn't the specific code that matters, it is showing that you have the skills, knowledge, ability to learn and care enough to share these things for the benefit of others.

Makes me be the question: you want someone who just puts stuff online to show off, or do you want someone with a track record of getting the job done?

So first of all you're looking at this the wrong way. You're not "showing off" per se. You're selling your services in most honest manner you can. You have to get over the idea that you shouldn't talk about yourself. You're in business, and in business no one will sell for you. You have to be your own champion, and that means being willing to put yourself out there, talk about what you've learned and show people why they should hire you.

To answer you question "getting the job done" is obviously the important thing. The trick is showing people who have no idea who you are or what you've done that you can, in fact, get the job done. When they are interviewing you they are trying to determine if it is a "safe bet" to hire you on, and make no mistake it is a bet. Chances are neither they nor you will know if it is a good fit until after the fact, but you can help them make that decision and put them somewhat at ease by talking about yourself and sharing your experience ahead of the conversation.

My job as the technical interviewer is to determine if the things you say you know and have done matches up to reality. You'll make my job easier if you can show me that concretely, and therefore make it more likely that I'll recommend you to continue in the hiring process.

Re:As a Technical Interviewer... (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | about a year ago | (#44085941)

Passion is for people who are to dumb to realize that they're being duped by the money men so how about this? I have a skill that you want or need to make money and I expect to be paid for using that skill to make you money. Are we doing business or not?

Getting a job at NSA ? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | about a year ago | (#44085745)

Then I can assure you do have a presence already.

not necessary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44085773)

i've been gainfully employed over a decade and have no online presence. it's never stopped me.

It's a screen, not a selector (1)

edcheevy (1160545) | about a year ago | (#44085825)

Unless you're applying for a job that requires security clearance (no presence might be good) or a marketing/PR/public-facing position (having a presence is good), it's really only going to be used to screen people out. If a Google search turns up a red flag about someone else with the same name, you might want to create a LinkedIn profile for yourself to SEO your results and easily distinguish yourself from your negative doppleganger. Recruiters are also using LI much more frequently now to look for talent, so it can't really hurt to have a profile. You might get some leads. Other than that though, there's not much reason to go out and create a presence just for your job search. It's only going to hurt you if you post something a recruiter or hiring manager doesn't like and you're not going to get many brownie points for a post they do like.

For software developers (1)

jtseng (4054) | about a year ago | (#44085939)

For the last round of hiring my company did, it was strongly suggested that any applicants open a Github account so they can use it to save the code they wrote for our evaluation. Having a Github account can give software-oriented people a chance to publish any projects they've written, akin to a portfolio for graphics design artists.

Required: Facebook page, and friend the corp. page (1)

Etrigan_696 (192479) | about a year ago | (#44086013)

At a previous job, my employer required all employees to have a page on Facebook and we were all supposed to "friend" the company's corporate page. I told them "Fire me if you like, I refuse to join Facebook." Worked there for quite a while, and never got called out on it. I did, however, have to list any on-line communities I was part of in my "Disclosure and Background Check Release" to get my security clearances. They told me I had to stop posting in the sci-fi discussion group I was a member of. While that was a small price to pay for an amazing paycheck doing something I enjoyed, I thought it was a little draconian.
With their complete dropping of the Facebook requirement, I wonder if I'd have called their bluff if they would have done anything.

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