Being the Porsche of job candidates

Stephen Wynkoop blogged about social networking as a part of the hiring process.  I’ll sum it up in a line: like it or not, you are being Googled when you submit your resume.  Get over it.

Would you buy a car without searching for an online review?  Sure, some people do – otherwise the dismal Chrysler Sebring would never sell a copy.  If you haven’t read Jeremy Clarkson’s review of the Chrysler Sebring, go do it, because it’ll brighten your day with gems like this:

Wanda is not your typical Sebring driver.

The Chrysler Sebring Convertible of job candidates, but I like her already.

“A Sebring can do nothing well. It was hopeless in crosswinds and the only option you need on a twisty road are sick bags. Interestingly, however, while the ride is very soft, the suspension still manages to crash about like a drawer full of cutlery when it is asked to deal with a small pothole.”

Pretty funny, eh?  Well, it still sells, and I know it does because I get it sometimes as a rental car.  And yes, the car really does suck that bad – the driver’s side armrest on my last Sebring had already worn through the colored part of the plastic, and it had less than 6,000 miles.  I’d never be caught at a Chrysler dealer buying one of those.

No, not me – I want a Porsche 911 Targa.  I’ve never driven one, but I’m quite positive that it’s the car for me.  I know because I’ve read all about it on the internet.  I can tell you how much it costs, how fast it goes, what kind of leather I want, you name it.  I’m all over that thing and I read about it every chance I get.

Now, replace cars with job candidates.

Imagine yourself as an IT manager or DBA manager getting ready to hire a new person.  You have a few candidates:

  • Candidate A – you’ve never heard of them, and they don’t show up in Google.
  • Candidate B – you’ve never heard of them, and they show up in Google.  Looks like they contribute answers on online forums, and their questions line up with the experience they say they’ve had.
  • Candidate C – oh yeah, this guy!  You’ve been to his web site and you’ve subscribed to his blog.
  • Candidate D – he says he’s a DBA, but last week he posted a rudimentary forum question on how to back up a database.

Guess which resume goes to the top of the stack?

And even better, guess which resume automatically demands a salary premium?  Which one is the Porsche of job candidates?

If you’re a good DBA – and I’m guessing you’re good, because by reading this, you’re actively seeking out DBA web sites to further your eduction – then you want to go to the top of the stack.  You do that by being an active member of the community.  It doesn’t directly pay off in cash, but boy does it pay off when it comes time to sift through the resume stack.

Hiring managers, IT managers and DBAs are going to search the web for you.  It can either be an advantage, or a disadvantage.  Make it work in your favor, and think of this situation every time you post under your public name on the web.

More DBA Career Articles

  • Moving from Help Desk to DBA – a reader asked how to do it, and I gave a few ways to get started.
  • Development DBA or Production DBA? – job duties are different for these two DBA roles.  Developers become one kind of DBA, and network administrators or sysadmins become a different kind.  I explain why.
  • Recommended Books for DBAs – the books that should be on your shopping list.
  • Ask for a List of Servers – DBA candidates need to ask as many questions as they answer during the interview.
  • Are you a Junior or Senior DBA? – Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but I explain how to gauge DBA experience by the size of databases you’ve worked with.
  • So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star – Part 1 and Part 2 – wanna know what it takes to have “SQL Server Expert” on your business card?  I explain.
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23 Comments. Leave new

  • Great post.

    It is all about maintaining your personal brand online. It includes ,as you mentioned, having a blog and participating in the online community of not only your career but your passions outside of work. Employers are endorsing your brand when they choose to hire you.

    Job seekers need to be cognizant of their personal brand online. The breadcrumbs we leave behind on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. are all considered when the hiring manager Google’s your name.

    Everyone should Google their name on a regular basis and see what comes up on the first page (some could argue the first three pages or so). Those first few links will speak volumes about your personal brand.

  • I don’t necessarily agree with Mr. Wynkoop’s blog. I am not interested in Social Networking; I don’t have a Facebook, MySpace or any account of that nature. I signed up for Twitter, but never used it; I just don’t see the value.

    If you Google me you don’t get anything back and I don’t think that is a bad thing. In this “crazy” world I am cautious about my personal information and make a conscientious effort to keep the release of my information to a minimum.

    Using Social Networking as a measure of one’s employment worth is ridiculous.

  • Fair enough – so if you had 10 candidates in the mix I described in the post, which ones would you interview first? Would you prefer to take the unknown ones first? Just making sure I understand the approach you’re suggesting.

    Sure, in an ideal world we’d interview every single candidate, but being pressed for time, if all else was equal, who’d float to the top of the stack?

  • Stephen Charlesworth
    October 22, 2008 9:28 am

    You read what he said, potential hiring person Googling me! I read this blog, therefore SQL authority Brent Ozar guesses I am a good DBA!

    Good point tho, I tend to keep my online identity close to the vest like (SQL?) Batman. I ought to get out and ‘give back’ more to the community as it could benefit me down the road someday, as you point out.

  • I have interviewed candidates before and I get more from talking to them then reading their resume. The time I would take interviewing someone is probably less than how long it would take me to read a bunch of posts/blogs that may or may not be a fair indicator.

    People can write whatever they want on a resume or a blog. I interviewed plenty of candidates that “claimed” they were Microsoft Certified. Of course, I can quickly discredit that certification if it is not accurate.

    Besides, most of the time people don’t use their real name on a forum. What about the blog you just posted on Monday about taking advise from BigFreddy22 or HotMamma31?

    This is a case of people using a tool (albeit, not a good one) that you can’t stop, but I don’t have to agree with the use.

  • You said:

    “The time I would take interviewing someone is probably less than how long it would take me to read a bunch of posts/blogs that may or may not be a fair indicator.”

    I can typically Google someone and get answers back within 5 minutes. It usually takes me that same amount of time to schedule an interview with them – not interview them, but just schedule it.

    The GOOD candidates do use their real name on forums because it understands that it builds their brand identity. For example, on the new StackOverflow.com forum, the only way you can log in is with an OpenID, which can trace back to your web site. I’m all over that – helps me reinforce my brand.

  • Marketing myself online and creating a “Brand Identity” is not something I am comfortable with. I don’t want to be in the public eye, I am not a Rock Star, Movie Star, or Policitician, nor do I want to be one. I understand that ego plays a large part in the IT world, as well as other worlds, but not in mine. Enjoy marketing yourself, it will probably reap some rewards, but of course at a cost.

    BTW…if you think you can qualify someone in 5 minutes with Google then God Bless You.

  • I hear ya, but you’re not understanding how brands work. I’m not qualifying people in 5 minutes – I’m DISqualifying them. I can tell in 5 minutes of Googling that I don’t want to drive a Chrysler Sebring, and I can tell that someone who posts a question “How do I restore a database” isn’t qualified to be a production DBA.

    Can we at least agree on that? If you’re willing to entertain a candidate like that as your production DBA, then…well, God Bless You. 😉

  • Yeah, I’m wit ya! 😉

    My interpretation of Wynkoop’s blog is that if you can’t be found in cyberspace then maybe you shouldn’t be considered for the position.

    Did you get that or was it just me?

  • I didn’t get that vibe, but I know you’re not alone. I read it that it’s the equivalent of a Microsoft certification circa 1997 – it made you stand out because not everybody was doing it yet. Right now, in today’s market, it’s a big edge, but it’s still unusual, not the norm, to hire someone with a good online presence.

    I remember a recent hire that my manager did strictly on the basis of the guy’s online presence, so I know how important it can be. Were the other candidates as good? Yep, but they didn’t take their careers as seriously as he did.

  • @jlangdon

    I think Stephen’s and Brent’s point here is that they use web search methods and “identity brand” as a “Tool” to augment their hiring processes and not the SOLE basis of hiring someone.

    …just a thought.

    Gob Bless us all! 🙂

  • I had never heard of anyone using an online presence as a way to measure a candidate.

    When I read Wynkoop’s blog I thought he was a “couple sandwiches short of a picnic”. 🙂

    On Monday’s blog you asked about the different ways people learn to become a DBA. I responded by saying I like webcasts. I also like articles, white papers, books, and many other print materials.

    I don’t find forums very timely, there are usually many ways to get answer more quickly. I also don’t have any way of validating the response so I don’t use them which means my online presence is boarding somewhere between NULL and < 0.

    I guess eventually I won’t be called for an interview regardless of how many resumes I send out.

  • Speaking of “learning to become a DBA”, I wouldn’t have understood SQL Server at all hadn’t I taken a semester in Database Concepts and another couple of semesters of Oracle Database Administration. Published “articles, white papers, books, and many other print materials” or the printed media in general perfectly fit my learning style. Blogs, forum, and websites of related content fall under this category for me. That is why I am so eager for Brent’s Monday announcement!

  • I agree in general that Internet is too popular to not find your name on it (or even multiples of your name)

    Sometimes I wish employers Google’ed me, sometimes I don’t
    Because you never know “how” they will look at it, it may go against you or it may promote you.

    Maybe one day when I am Google’ing someone I am interviewing, then I will return and share the experience

    I do use my real name for everything (email, forum, domain, etc…). I have nothing to hide, and everything to share and help others (if I can)

  • @Jerry Hung

    Is this yours?

    http://sqlservernewbie.blogspot.com/

    Nice one! Please continue on sharing good stuff! You can visit mine @ http://dbalink.wordpress.com/

  • Just came across this and even though it has been many months since the last comment I wanted to reply in agreement anyway. After 13 years in the career transition business (outplacement), I saw and learned more trends and ups and downs in job hunting than I realized there could be. Just 13 years ago, email was new and a client was offered his job simply because he emailed a thank you note after the interview. It wasn’t the thank you (although that helped); it was the use of email. It let the perspective employer know he was up-to-date on the latest technology. That is how googling is being used today. Not just have you lied on your resume (which will eventually be tied to your application which is a legal document) but have you stayed up-to-date with the latest technology. No company wants to invest money training someone who hasn’t already been trained in what they consider “the basics.”

  • And the basics keep changing, too, don’t they? It seems like every couple of years that go by, people are expected to know different things about technology work. And it’s not just IT – heck, my dad’s a nurse and he’s constantly learning too.

  • I agree with Brent.

    Also, it’s important to make a research together the Human Resources department about how this leaflet is his credit history with banks, how is his own management doing things the right way and not to be criminal or something like it is handled out in a bad environment.

  • With identifying your online identity with an employer, would it be proper resume etiquette to include the forums you are active on or at most the “aliases” you use online?

    If it is how would you put that on their. Header on resume: “Me Online” or maybe “Community Activities”? 🙂

    • Shawn – I just put my web site at the top of the resume, along with my contact info, and on my web site’s About Me page, I list all of the places online to find me. Otherwise, your resume can get pretty long.

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