12 Responses to "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? The MySpace Candidate Branding Conundrum"
  1. Astha says:

    “Are we too afraid that we will see something about their “lifestyle” that isn’t safe or vanilla? So much of our culture, especially corporate culture, is just devoid of any real character.”- Well said.
    So glad someone protested. You’ve got to have the maturity to contextualize what someone writes in college or highschool. People at that age have a right to explore and a right to expression. If you’re going to go looking- at least look at that information authentically; not from a moral high ground.

  2. Courage and authenticity are the same thing. Courage is the essential leadership quality plus talents and skills.

    A person who is authentic to her negative characteristics is not going to be a great boss. However, if the will to authenticity is thoroughgoing enough the courage it entails will be the mettle that makes a leader.

  3. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the comment Astha – great blog BTW.

    It is surprising to me that there aren’t more protesting voices out there on this topic – but it is highly complicated. We love blogs and social networking for allowing real and authentic conversations but we are weary of them because they document your thoughts in a more permanent way.

    I have mixed feelings about where the line is between acceptable and unacceptable self-expression that won’t ruin your public persona. Why is it fine for Sir Richard Branson, a Knight no less, to talk about quitting school as a teen, illegally smuggling albums past his government’s tax system, or about being a thief as a kid without being judged? He wrote about it in a very permanent way in his autobiographies – but that isn’t going keep him from getting funding for his next big idea. When is it right and when is it wrong to judge based on what people are willing to put out there about themselves?

    What I protest too most about this is the taking of this material out of context to make hiring decisions. Not giving someone a job because they have a MySpace page touting that they won the “most inebriated award” in their Frat at college is ridiculous. They did not walk into their interview drunk, touting that they won the “Most Inebriated” award in school a few months ago. What is on MySpace is “public”, but I would also counter that the information isn’t public for the world to see whether they want to see it or not.

    We’re not talking about people who have openly deceived a prospective employer and lied on their resume or covered up an arrest. We are talking about people that are just out there honestly talking about their life for social interaction and entertainment. People are not flaunting the info in the face of their prospective employer – this is not the image that they are going to their interview with. Employers have to SEARCH and go DIGGING for this information. Are they willing to do this same sort of uncovering for their current employees to help them decide if they’re worth retaining?

    “When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.”
    — Joseph Joubert

  4. Laura says:

    I totally agree with your point that candidates should be allowed to be themselves and express themselves authentically. However, I think the problem with MySpace (and the MySpace generation) is that they aren’t really free to be themselves. Posts about their sexual exploits, drinking or drug use isn’t meant to show they are different – it is menat to show that they are the same as all the other kids posting the same thing. Even though they are expressing themselves, I’m not sure they are really being true to themselves.

    In addition, we all have to live with the fact that the Internet has made this into a small world. I liken it to if a candidate knew that a large number of a company’s employees hung out at a particular bar and the night before an interview that candidate went there, got wasted, took their top off, danced on the bar and then passed out. The candidate could very well show up to the interview the next day and have people that saw them living it up at the bar last night as interviewers. It’s a new world and a new genreation, but they still need to show judgement.

    I think the point that the guidance counselors need to make is not – you should edit your profile – but that you should really think about whether or not your profile really describes you. If you call yourself “CrazyBitch” on MySpace – is that really how you see yourself?

    That’s just my two cents – but from my perspective I see a lot more sameness than orginality on MySpace.

  5. Shannon says:

    Hi Laura – thanks for the comment! All good points…and you are right – there are many unoriginal sheep on MySpace that are trying to be what they think their online friends want them to be. They have developed online personas that might not truly reflect who they are…reminds me a little of the geeks that used to play Dungeons and Dragons. Hey wait I’m a geek….

    Anyway – MySpace has become mainstream fast – I think people are sick of being told how they are supposed to be. When you look at American – many have the perspective that you can go ahead and be crazy or promiscuous or gay, but just don’t tell us about it and certainly don’t put it in writing (or photos or vlogs).

    I protest that it is arbitrary and possibly inaccurate information that gets to be used without the consent of the candidate to make hiring decisions. MySpace is about connecting with your peers and social entertainment – if you choose to not be original and stick with the crowd, well that is your right – but the point is that it is YOUR SPACE.

    The site is not called MyResume. It was never created to be a place where you advertised your “Candidate Brand.” Candidates should have rights too and not have recruiters digging for dirt so that companies can seemingly reduce their “risks” and protect themselves from making “bad hires”.

    Your job as a candidate is to prove that you have the ability to do the job that an employer needs and that is done through your work history and your accomplishments and even competency tests – not what you do when you’re off the clock.

  6. Astha says:

    I think at the core of this is sorting out what is peripheral and what is relevant.

    Whether the candidate cross dressed in college, got wasted, or wrote utter crap (which as Laura pointed out might just have been to fit in)—all of this is irrelevant to his/her performance on the job. Just like our color, creed, religion and orientation are irrelevant to whether we make good contributive citizens in our society.

    We have a tendency as people to get embroiled in the peripheral and more visible aspects of an individual while assessing them.

    The relevant questions are whether the person has the skill, ability and knowledge to perform the job. And twenty to one their personal space is not going to tell you how well they code, manage or organize.

    If material available on a person raises doubts in your mind about their integrity and honesty—be thorough in the references. Get recent, reliable data rather than speculating.
    But please do not let peripheral characteristics get in the way.

    Thanks for focusing on the issue Shannon- there should be more discussions on this!

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