One of my earliest posts was a list of things to do before the job interview. Since then, participation in online networks and media has grown tremendously, so there's more than ever to learn from people's online histories. New services like Twitter encourage a sort of stream-of-consciousness public life, which can lead to embarrassing or problematic public statements.
Willy Franzen suggests places to check for insights into employers and interviewers, including the new sources where people tend to be less careful. I disagree that the pre-interview research is about "digging dirt," though. Finding public information about people before doing business with them is just being smart, and interviewing with a company is entirely about doing business with them.
Net-savvy jobseekers will take steps to protect themselves and take advantage of the information available online:
- Check your own digital footprints and clean up your online image now—don't wait for the interview. Assume that potential employers (and others you encounter in life) will look you up, and consider whether your online reputation is the one you want.
- Before the interview, do your homework on the employer. Start with the basics, then explore Willy's updated list of online sources.
- If you haven't already, learn to use RSS to collect current information. Many of the search engines and online sources you'll use in your research now support RSS. You'll save time and collect more useful information if you know how to use it.
Paying attention to online reputations and using social media (such as blogs) to improve your reputation are hot topics these days. For a longer discussion of how it all works—for your company and yourself—check out Radically Transparent
by Andy Beal and Dr. Judy Strauss.
If you're nearby, you can hear Andy talk about online reputation at Blog Carolinas on May 9 in Research Triangle Park, NC. I'll be there, too, with a business-oriented session on monitoring and measuring social media. Be sure to say hello.