As they say, the only two things that are certain are death and taxes. The rest is open to interpretation. This includes the suitability of a candidate for any given position. Therefore, whether you're looking for a job or looking for a good person to fill a job, you're putting something valuable at risk -- either your time or your money. If job hunting is a gamble, then why not hedge your bets a bit?
The following is part of an exchange between banking guru J.P.
Morgan and a member of a congressional committee in the early 20th
Congressman: Is not commercial credit based primarily on money or property?
J.P.M.: No, sir. The first thing is character.
Congressman: Before money or property?
J.P.M.: Before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it.
Long résumés and walls full of degrees and commendations have their
place, but in the pantheon of qualifications, I wouldn't rank them the
highest. Like Morgan, I would put a premium on character. In fact, here's how I
would rank the order of importance.
- Intelligence (general and specific)
- Specific experience
Why you should be all over the 'net
The problem is that
character and intelligence aren't easy to put on a résumé. Some people
get by with listing experience (especially pro bono work they've done) and education, but
that will only get you so far. Although they're often a good starting
point, companies know the story doesn't end there.
And increasingly, they know how to use Google.
Knowing this, you really have only two choices:
Ignore it and try to fly under Google's considerably effective radar, or
Embrace it and influence it as much as you can
Number 1 may work only if you have no friends or a name like "Abraham Lincoln." In the first case, even if you try to fly under the radar, your friends may have other ideas about your desire for anonymity, and if you're not actively telling your story, someone else may be. In the second case... let's face it... Companies would be hard-pressed to find information about you when they have to navigate through all the information about that other guy.
Number 2, on the other hand, gives you an opportunity to tell your side of the story before anyone else does. If you're a private person and are uncomfortable with being "out there," you have the ability to moderate your level of personal disclosure.
If you're prolific, you can ensure prospective employers (or clients, if you're self-employed) can become convinced that you may have the qualities they seek in a candidate. If they don't value those qualities, they're probably not a good fit for you anyway.
That way, if there are any issues (fairly or unfairly) that call your character into question (Remember those parties you attended when you were 25?) they will be drowned out by the story you'd rather they see.
Just make sure your online persona is consistent with the way you want others to see you. - Cam Beck