Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Personal confidentiality statement: renewal and review (with "Reputation Defense")

Back in May, 2007, I wrote a “confidentiality statement” on this blog, reassuring any potential employer about my intention to honor normal business confidentiality agreements should I return to work at any time. Here is the link to that.

This still holds. The volume and subject-matter scope of my postings has increased even more since then.

I’ve said that, in many cases, people whose job involves making decisions about others or speaking for their employer publicly should not broadcast themselves outside of the scope of their job, without some kind of agreement. That is still true. Were I to develop some opportunity in, say, “knowledge management,” or perhaps in solving some of the issues related to “reputation defense,” I would behave online in a manner agreed upon mutually with the employers. In some cases, that could mean that a lot of or all of this material could disappear. There would have to be enough compensation for the entire situation and arrangement to “make sense.” But, in some situations, the individual “pamphleteering” would stop.

I’ve wondered about the individual contributor situation in an information technology contract, particularly a W-2 contract. In the past, there has existed the view that a person, especially a contractor, is on his own and “owns” his own life and personally expressive material, including online.

Staffing companies are likely to pay more attention to “online reputation” in the present and future than in the past. One problem is that someone like me is perceived as “sharp-edged.” I don’t gossip or spread rumors about or attack individual people (which is the activity that generates the now increasingly well known “reputation defense” problems) in any situation (employer, church, political group, social group, etc.) However, I do bring up issues and “connect the dots” among the issues in a way that makes some people jittery and in a way that probably gives me a certain “reputation.”

Staffing companies will want to sell their contractors to clients with resumes and profiles that maintain credibility in a specific expertise (including mainframe areas) (DB2 internals, Vantage, specific case tools, MMIS, etc.). It sounds like it’s possible that this would be “diluted” by a large Internet search engine presence on dicey political issues.

The problem might be more important with corp-to-corp (where the person is a salaried employee of the staffing company) than W2. Some proposed changes in health care (especially by Democratic candidates) and some mandatory health insurance laws in some states might force contractors into corp-to-corp arrangements when they would have preferred the “freedom” of W-2 (as would have the staffing companies).

If anyone has more specific information on all this, I would appreciate comments (monitored for being “on-subject”).

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