Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tried patience

For about two months my various job-hunting resources have inundated me, and every unemployed person within reach, with fearful advice on the proper care and feeding of social networking sites.

Most of the advice is chyme.

I was thinking about this the other day whilst going over the Facebook entries of various friends and relations who are either employed or legitimately retired. They are easy, relaxed, natural, unaffected, without being the least likely to set off the sensitivities of an uber-hypersensitive age. In short, they are social.

None of this will do for the employment gurus. In their view, one must purge these products of one's hours of social activity of the slightest trace of humanity, and turn one's image into that of an asocial, Orwellian automaton. This, says I after many job hunts, may get the interview. It won't get one the job, because any sane HR person looking at the flesh-and-blood person, rather than the sanitised social networking profile the job gurus advised you to present online, will be convinced that the interviewee just showed up from a parallel universe. If you are a match for your sanitised profile—for example, if you walk the beach in wingtips and wear a tie to bed—there may not be such a great disconnect.

A Web site is in the works here, and after some thought it will link to this blog. When I mentioned that intention at a networking meeting, I said that the blog contained sometimes candid opinions. My well-indoctrinated meeting mates rose up as one and said, "be careful! You can't do that!" I said nothing to them but it made my mind up, and formed an obvious rejoinder to such over-anxious caution.

I'm a writer. When I'm not expressing my (hopefully) informed opinions in public, I'm collecting the opinions of others or, as an editor, I'm giving shape to the opinions of others. A writer who would do none of these things is of no use to anyone.

The job gods need to reconsider this approach, along with many others. Not everyone they advise is in sales or marketing, or bean-counters or in some other role where they have no right or interest in giving an opinion. Many job-seekers are in occupations which demand that they give, or present, informed opinions. By my observation, much that the authorities say about social networking simply increases the anxiety level of people who are already too anxious to make good decisions. Perhaps I'm alone in thinking that is unhelpful.

Are you worried about either your past remarks or the boisterous remarks of your friends and relations? These sites have privacy functions: use them. It costs nothing. An inquisitive HR type can discover that your name is on this site or that (which proves that you live in the 21st century) but that you choose not to share your personal information with the universe. If they have a problem with that, you're better off not working for them. Wiser heads might conclude that if you do not want to hand out free passes to your own personal data, you might be just as discreet with theirs.

There will be more on this directly.

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