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Job-Search Due Diligence

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:

  1. 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.

  2. Before the interview, do your homework on the employer. Start with the basics, then explore Willy's updated list of online sources.

  3. 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.

Comments (7)

I'd suggest a 0th step: decide in advance which digital footprints you're willing to leave online and stick to that strategy.

You'll never have to worry about some photos on MySpace if you don't put them there in the first place or do anything else you might regret later.

An excellent point, Jacob. That's really getting into the concept of personal branding, too. There's the defensive angle—don't post things you don't want people to find—and then there's the positive angle. Decide how you want to appear and use online tools to reinforce that image.

I just came across your blog and liked the things you discussed, especially this last one about Job-Search Due Diligence.

So do you have any tips on the best ways to get recruiters/HR professionals to return a message when you apply for a specific position online. Having gone through a job search process a couple of times over these past few years, I've found it very frustrating to try and get feedback from a potential employer, if even get a message to confirm they even received your online submission.

Any suggestions/recommendations?

Uh oh, a new reader. Guess I should think of something new to post. :-)

That's the toughest question: how to motivate someone who isn't calling back. Unfortunately, I don't have a helpful answer for it. As far as I can tell, the silence comes from people who are overwhelmed with applications (and haven't seen yours), who have your application in a "to call" pile, or who have seen yours and took a pass. Feedback seems to be a luxury from a more reasonably paced past.

Do you think it would be socially acceptable to keep track of the companies you apply with and send their HR departments a follow-up e-mail after two weeks? Make it personal, not mass e-mail, just verifying that they received your app. You still may not get a response, but it may drive them to look for your name, whereas they may have previously overlooked it.

Keep track, yes. Follow-ups to applications are mostly a waste of effort and probably counterproductive.

The digital footprint comment is right on, but I think that most people don't understand how exposed they are or how anything/everything that they have ever put online can come back to haunt you. I am not sure this is great progress - check my post:

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