Friday, September 15, 2006

Could social networking profiles affect IT jobs?


The media has drenched us with warnings about employers checking social networking site profiles (Myspace, Facebook) and personal blogs, and even "search engine tracks" of job applicants.

This has become a topic that can be perceived in more than one way. It's understandable that someone in a sales job, who visits client sites or goes into people's homes, who works with small children, or who speaks for the company -- could embarrass the company and disturb clients or customers with over-the-top personal information that clients can find easily these days with search engines.

I.T. people often work in purely technical tasks, and often remain inhouse. The big part of an IT job is often technical perfection, and error-free implementation and support. It takes a focused, detail-oriented personality that sometimes appeals to more introverted people, who often are going to be drawn to artistic and literary pursuits in their own lives. On the other hand, IT people have to work in teams, although the teams are often internal.

The practice over the years has been to fill many development positions with W-2 contractors, who will work at a site for six months to a year. Typically, a recruiter contacts someone based on his online resume (usually at a site like Dice.com) and the person is not hired until chosen by the client. But after the first job, with some contracting companies, the professional goes "on the bench" and sometimes is paid for bench time, which can be used for training (particularly with a job that offers salaries and benefits). A company like this will want to be offer the resumes of the contractors that it uses repeatedly. This has been common practice for decades. But now, the Internet is there, and the notion that a person's online presence should be professionally managed is emerging.

I have not heard much specifically about this, but one can see where it is heading.

Here is a February 12 column by Mary Ellen Slayter of The Washington Post on this issue. (It may require an online subscription.) She mentions Tim DeMello, who has been developing a service to maintain profiles (Ziggs.com). Would companies eventually force most professionals to surrender "right of publicity" to services like this? I wonder.

I weigh in some more on this in another online essay at another pilot site.

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