:-p :^) to Prospective Employers

Nancy’s Tongue, by Aaron Jacobs, © 2006 CC BY-SA 2.0

This is a funny blog post. Really. Just hang on. I’m sure it will get funnier as I get snarkier. (By the way, how come my spellchecker doesn’t know the word snarkier?)

I actually wasn’t going to post anything for Wishcasting Wednesday today (which by now is actually yesterday, since it’s now half past midnight). I was only going to read others’ postings, because I simply had too many tasks booked for today—that is, yesterday—and I didn’t think I would be able to do it justice. Instead, I was just going to post a quick note about a funny job ad I found on craigslist.

But then, I saw an article, brought to my attention by Alison Driscoll (@alisond), about how some employers are checking out prospective employees on Facebook and other social networking sites. Some of them are disqualifying job applicants based on what they find, and I’ll frankly never understand how ridiculous some employers are.

I then decided that the funny craigslist ad can wait until tomorrow (which is, by now, today), by which time I’m sure I’ll find even more, funny craigslist ads (though I haven’t yet).

Before I go any further, I must note something regarding the photo that appears above. For the record, neither Aaron Jacobs, the photographer, nor “Nancy,” the model, have any part in what I’m about to say. I just liked the shot of her sticking out her tongue, because I thought it fit in really well with what I wanted to say in this blog post. (And I was also sure someone would find it a nice tongue, and fun to look at.) And I saw that the photo, according Aaron’s post on Flickr, was licensed under a Creative Commons license, and so I included Nancy’s Tongue here. And if Nancy consequently gets fired from what is obviously a high-paying medical job, for allowing such an obscene photo of her in her scrubs to be posted on the Internet, I’m sure I didn’t have anything to do with that.

Back to the article I mentioned above. It cites a study by Harris Interactive, under contract by CareerBuilder.com, to survey HR professionals and hiring managers. According to the study’s press release, 45% of employers now look up prospective employees on social networking sites. It also warns:

Job seekers are cautioned to be mindful of the information they post online and how they communicate directly with employers. Thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.

Reasons included provocative photos (53% of respondents), talk about drinking or using drugs (44%), and “bad-mouthing” a previous employer (35%).

Porno and Drinking and Drugs, Oh My!

Okay, now I’m going to make fun of them.

I’m sure all of those are simply horrifying, especially the provocative photos, as Queen of Sky will attest. Also drinking and talk of drinking.

And drugs! Gasp! I myself am currently hyped up on lisinopril, hydrochlorothiazide, and simvastatin. I may skip the diphenhydramine tonight. But thank God I’m off the citalopram!

I think I just got this blog post flagged as spam. Sorry, Google.

We’ll get back in a moment to making fun of— er, I mean, “bad-mouthing” (that’s their word) a previous employer, which by the way is also something I’ve done on this blog.

Now, I’m going to take a leap of logic here, which is probably wrong-headed and definitely fallacious. (And for all you prospective employers, that fallacious, not fellatio, which is also a word my spellchecker doesn’t know.) The study cites “percent of employers,” which in actuality means “percent of overworked, underpaid, HR stiffs, who don’t actually produce anything for the company, but still get blamed by all the employees for their employer’s stupidity, and by their employer for employee discontent.”

So when said overworked, underpaid, blamed and battered HR professional scanned down the survey’s list of possible reasons the company had disqualified applicants, she probably did not search through the files and find examples of each. Rather, she checked off the reasons she remembered instances of, the ones that were foremost in her mind, probably because those were the ones that the hiring managers had harped on. That’s my leap of logic, that the percentages not only reflect how many prospective employees lost their chance because of each reason, but also how important these reasons are to the hiring managers.

Because what’s the alternative? That 50% more people have posted provocative photos of themselves than have talked ill of a former employer? Somehow, I don’t believe that. But I would believe that 50% more hiring managers would be shocked—shocked—at what some of us do for fun.

I would also believe that 25% more hiring managers would not want to know what I drink. I drink wine. I have a bottle of wine in the house right now. Because I enjoy wine. I adore wine. I am a wine-snob wannabe. See, we’re Jewish on one side and Italian Christian on the other, so there’s plenty of wine to go around.

(Don’t stop me now! I’m on a roll! I think I just disenfranchised two major religious groups.)

Much less likely to have been cited by overworked, underpaid, blamed and battered HR professionals were reasons like “showed poor communication skills” (29%), “made discriminatory comments” (26%), “lied about qualifications” (24%), and “shared confidential information from previous employer” (20%). I would expect, in a fair world, all of these to be more highly represented among employers, even if each one had only occurred once or twice. In fact, I would expect instances of these to stand out, because they’re so obvious. But somehow, that didn’t happen.

The press release adds, “Fourteen percent of employers have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face…” Now, I know it’s only 14%, and they didn’t mention the context of the smiley—putting one in business correspondence is probably inappropriate; but in a Facebook or Twitter status update, that’s normal. Still, that seems excessively petty. This is the 21st century, guys. Emoticons are a part of life. Get used to it, please. 🙂

The “You” You Wish to Be

This brings me to Wishcasting Wednesday, in which Jamie Ridler asks, “Who is the ‘you’ you wish to be?”

See, the press release wraps up with a list of 5 “DOs and DON’Ts,” including “be selective about who you accept as friends.” Apparently, because we’re judged by our friends?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for controlling your image online. We all do it. But the whole goal here is simply to get that job offer, because it really sucks to be rejected. And that’s really what it’s about, isn’t it? It just sucks to be rejected, even to be rejected for who you really are.

Even the very word reject is a term of disgrace. How would you like to be “a reject”? Not so fun, is it? (Although for some reason, we seem to take pleasure in rejecting others.)

This brought to memory another story, sent along by another Facebook friend, about a woman who actually lost her job because of Facebook. The story, in brief, is that she posted a Facebook status update:

OMG I HATE MY JOB!! My boss is a total pervvy wanker always making me do shit stuff just to piss me off! WANKER!

In response, her boss, who happened to be one of her Facebook friends, told her not to come into work anymore.

Commentators promptly threw around words like “idiot moron” to describe her. But me? I think she’s a genius.

Think about it. Is anyone seriously suggesting that she should have sought the favor of a boss she loathed that much, in order to keep a job that was making her that miserable? If she had not gotten fired, I would have urged her to get out—I mean, GET OUT!—as fast as you possibly can.

But yeah, I think they actually are suggesting that.

But not only did she get out of a job she hated, she also probably got unemployment compensation and maybe even severance pay. (I don’t know what the laws are like in the UK, where she’s obviously from, but I imagine it’s probably not sufficient cause to fire someone like that for a personal comment they made on Facebook, no matter how insulting that comment was.)

My point is this: It’s better to attract those who accept the “you” you really are, rather than to maintain a situation that makes you miserable.

Yeah, maybe this woman went a little overboard with the Facebook comment. After all, you don’t see me saying demeaning things about some of the people I’ve worked with in the past, even though I’ve got stories. Boy, do I have stories! Somehow, however, all the stories you catch here on my blog have been sanitized of identifying details, and sometimes even of the worst offenses. Even in the Love-Idiot book, I used pseudonyms for almost all the characters, and I passed the book by everyone who appears in it (at least everyone I could find). Why? Because I don’t want to appear a complete and total jerk. (Just a limited, partial one.) And that is because I want to associate with nice people who accept me for who I am, faults and all. And I want you to trust me not to publicly demean you, even if I disagree with you. I don’t always succeed in that, I think, but I try nonetheless. I hope at least that you appreciate the effort.

My Wishcasting Wednesday Wish

I don’t know if this is a Wishcasting Wednesday post anymore, because I haven’t said which “you” I wish to be. But whichever “you” you wish to be, I wish that you’ll actually be it, even if some people look down on you for it.

Did you enjoy this post? Why not leave a comment below and continue the conversation, or subscribe to my feed and get articles like this delivered automatically to your feed reader.

Enjoy what you read here?
Buy me a coffee, and help support this site.

I really like the last sentence. Btw: My problem is, I need twice the time as all my fellow wishers, because English isn’t my mothertongue. Reading a post like yours, such a long one, takes time. Reading more than 30 posts takes a long long long time. So I really can’t do that.
So the YOU I wish to be right know is the one who can use Englisch just as anyone of my fellow wishers does.

About the girl with the job: It’s not nice to call somebody a wanker, BUT quite right: if she has this feelings, she can call herself lucky, she’s lost the job.
Who wants to work for a wanker?

Wow! I don’t even know what to say
I just want to use a whole buncha emoticons, ya know :>
and of course, also, to work the word “wanker” into this comment 🙂

Thanks for the laugh. If there was a wish in there, I wish it comes true!

May we all be who we really are not matter what.
What Tim wishes for himself and all of us, so I wish for him and us also.

LOL Fabulous rant…standing with polite clapping and general approval 🙂 Like you need it, but what the heck…seems that the general idea of the moment is “Be yourself regardless” 😉 Cheers Tim, here is to whatever it is that you wish for you, yourself, etc 🙂 Let’s hear it for the 1 AM rant!

I think the story of the woman who got herself fired via Facebook brings up a much more important, and more difficult, topic. Social networks don’t so much attract “friends” like their UIs would indicate so much as “acquaintances” or “people you know some of the people you do”. In this woman’s case, she and her boss were “friends” on Facebook. Why? They’re clearly not friends. I bet they’re connected on LinkedIn too. Why?

The biggest problem is that in “real life”, you can exhibit different personalities around different people. I’m the real me in front of my parents and the real me in front of my closest friends, but “the real me” acts differently around either group. For example, maybe I curse more in front of my friends. But I wouldn’t consider myself to be acting disingenuously in front of my parents, that’s just a different level of etiquette depending on the company.

On the internet, I don’t have this luxury. You can have different personas on different sites, but *all* of them are browseable to anybody you’re connected to. We’ve now lost the ability to change our etiquette based on those we’re interacting with.

If this were a software problem, my take would be to program to the lowest common denominator. If your college buddies as well as your boss are friends with you on facebook, your facebook page needs to hide the drunken picture of you peeing on your neighbor’s house. If that’s too much to ask, perhaps it’s time to stop “friending” your parents and coworkers. There are plenty of other ways to keep in touch with them.

Hi Tim,

I agree! Why hide who you really are and why do employers want employees that do so? And what’s with the detective work on the Internet really about? Enjoyed your read. I wish that your wish for all of us to be our best “you” comes true!

Giulietta the Muse

Hi Tim,
Thanks for stopping by.
I choose people for who they are inside. As allot of my friends have no other friends. I can see past there outer shell and accept them for who they are.
I do not let there appearance to the world stop me from being there friend. I have learned not to judge people and have taught this to my kids.

So who is the you you wish to be?

Have a wonderful day and stop by any time.
I look forward to reading some of your book.

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words.

Ironically, I found myself specifically avoiding using emoticons in an email to a job recruiter yesterday. 🙂

Danny, I believe you’re right. I too present different views of myself to my Facebook friends (whom I know at least casually), as opposed to what I post on my blog or on Twitter. And the me you meet in real life is likely to be very different than the me you see in print. In fact, I have a story idea in my big list about such a situation, where the worlds of a character collide and unsettle her.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.