Four years ago – almost exactly to the day – I lost my job. I hate that phrase, though. It’s not like I was walking along one day and suddenly misplaced it. “Hey! Where’d my job go?! It was right here a second ago, I swear!”
More like, my position was eliminated. Out from under me. With nary a word of warning.
Not that I’m bitter or anything.
(Actually, I’m not. If that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be here, and here is a pretty good place to be.)
But, it did mark the beginning of what turned out to be a long unemployment stint. 20 months and some odd days. I burned through my savings and 401K in the process. Also met my soulmate, so it was a fair tradeoff. I remember all too well the feelings of constant rejection as the days stretched into months and I was unable to land an interview, let alone a job. At the time, my parents raised concerns over my blogging. “You’re putting too much personal info out there,” my mom told me repeatedly. She believed my topic choices might be dissuading employers from calling me in for interviews. Just because I often wrote about how it was 3:00 PM and I was still in my pajamas and, hey, why don’t I make myself a mojito now? At the time I dismissed their concerns with an arrogantly naive wave of the hand. “Nobody’s stalking me online,” I said.
I believed that at the time, but now I’m not so sure. Because here I am, in the midst of attempting to hire a couple of content specialists to grow the team, and I find myself internet stalking every single one of them before they come in for an interview. Case in point: if you have a blog and are filling your posts with profanity-laced tirades against politicians, the media, pop culture icons, and others, that’s fine…but keep in mind that I (or any potential employer) am going to read that. I may (and did) laugh out loud, but I am also going to form certain opinions about you that might influence my final decision come hiring time. This applies to all social media, by the way. You might look cute dressed up as a Japanese anime character at last year’s cosplay convention, but do you really want your potential boss to see you in a skimpy bikini top, superhero cape, and pink wig?
Save that shit for when you’re looking for a raise.
This is really just a roundabout way of admitting to my mom that she was right all along. Fortunately, there’s no moratorium on apologies. I have no idea whether any of my blog posts back in the day actually prevented me from getting hired, but in the future (I pray there is no future!) I think I’d choose to err on the side of caution.
What’s really fun is lobbing a question at a candidate mid-interview that makes it clear you have read his/her not-so-private ramblings. The reactions tend to be priceless. A coworker asked me if I was nervous a few minutes before an interviewee showed up. “Not at all,” I replied. “I’m on this side of the table, remember?”
And that, my friends, makes all the difference in the world.