Yesterday, one of my soon-to-be-former coworkers, Kiran, tipped me off to an NPR story on blogging and privacy. Steve Inskeep spoke with a grad student who writes a few Myspace blogs with his personal journal, political ramblings, and – whee – a blog about blogs. The student observed that he doesn’t know anyone who’s been denied employment based on the contents of their blog, but he knew people who had removed blog content with that fear in mind. Kiran said that before he met me, he didn’t know anybody so open about their lives as to maintain a blog.
It’s more than that, though: I don’t just maintain some random MySpace blog under an online name. I run my blog under BrentOzar.com, my real name, for all to see. I believe that a blog written under a real name gives some credibility, some weight, some authority. It’s less of a blog and more of a personal brand, a personal marketing site. It’s also a historical archive that lends some credence to who I am, and what I’ve been doing for the last several years. It shows that I’m not faking it.
I couldn’t go apply for a job right now with a faked resume saying I graduated from the University of Houston. Well, I could, but good HR folks could Google my name, find my site, read it, and discover that I never finished. Even if I doctored up my site right now to say that I finished, really savvy surfers could dig up an archived version of my site, step back through time to see the different copies, and read how I’d marketed myself differently over the years. Bam, busted.
Whenever a resume crosses my desk, I Google the bejeezus out of that person. I try to find every question they’ve asked on newsgroups, every reference to them and their employer, and their personal hobbies. I know I’m the rarity rather than the norm because my coworkers, managers and HR people are always dumbfounded by the amount of information I come across. You don’t have to write a blog to get busted – all you have to do is post a single question to a newsgroup or forum that shows your email address. “Ah, yeah, this guy posts questions regularly in the MS Access newsgroups, even up to last month. Why’s he still posting Access questions this basic if he’s applying for a SQL Server DBA job, saying he has years of experience?” Bam, busted.
The risk of living a somewhat online life is that if you lie about your life, you can get busted.
The reward is that if you consistently tell the truth, people can verify your history online. It’s almost like a reference check. My future employers can step back through time, look at each company I worked for, see my blog entries, and see what I was doing over the years. Until recently, that wasn’t something I promoted, but Kiran had been so impressed by my blog that he suggested I put a link right on my resume. That worked extremely well and it opened a lot of doors I hadn’t expected.
Enough doors, in fact, that I just gave notice at Kanbay/Adjoined after only five months. My last day will be Friday the 24th.
I cringe as I write this because I know I’m going to have to explain this five-month gig thing later. Years from now, hopefully very very many years from now, if I look for another job, I’ll have to explain why I only stayed five months at a company. I am so not a job-hopper – my last job was six years, and before that two at two years, but both were working with the same guy – I basically followed Wayne West to another company.
A non-blogger would give a BS excuse like “I was only a contract employee” or “The new position was a better match” or “I couldn’t stand the Kanbay merger” or something. Here, I find myself under my own spotlight, and I gotta be honest. I’m a permanent employee, I’m going into a similar position, and I think the Kanbay merger is a great move for Adjoined. At the end of the day, I just wasn’t personally fulfilled – this wasn’t the right match for me.
I’m extremely excited about the new company, and I’ll write more about it later. I don’t know their policy on blogging yet or if I have to sign an NDA about the company name, so I’ll keep my big virtual mouth shut until I get those policies cleaned up. After all, blogging is permanent, and you don’t want to screw that stuff up.