Robert Scoble, a famous tech personality in Silicon Valley, is hiring an assistant. In a post expressing his frustrations with the résumés he’s received so far, he lets the candidates know the best way to stand out: blog. Sure Scoble’s hiring for a “tech” position, but I am confident that blogging is going to play an increasingly prominent role as a qualification for all sorts of opportunities. Unfortunately, this aspect of the Web’s impact is not getting as prominent a place as the warnings against expsoing too much about yourself on Facebook. This tone damages the conversation, overemphasizing the paranoia and neglecting (if not rejecting) the positive possibilities. I want to change that tone, and that’s what this post is all about.

Scare Tactics

Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of commotion about how companies, and even universities nowadays, are investigating the digital “breadcrumbs” left across the Internet by candidates for employment/admission. Whether doing a simple Google search to see what appears in the top few results, or using dedicated tools to “check between the sofa cushions”, if you will: those whom we seek to impress are taking more and more seriously our online behavior. (On an interesting side note, Spokeo — which I covered in one of my first posts on this blog — has begun advertising itself as a tool for HR professionals to do “deep social search” on job candidates).

I’ll never forget the story my friend Henry told me of his first day at the White House as an intern last year. As they walked into one of their orientations, there was a projector and screen set up showing slideshow. The images being projected were drawn from the public albums of the new interns’ Facebook profiles; you can imagine that a good number of those pictures were, well… not flattering. When the nervous interns were settled uncomfortably in their seats, they had a nice little talking-to about how they were the face of the White House, how all these images could be accessed and republished by anyone, etc. Luckily for Henry, he had previously (and famously) sanitized his profile to include only the following message: “I’d rather talk to you in person.”

“Be careful what you leave behind,” the experts and mainstream media tell us. This is certainly fair advice. What they fail to point out are the many positive ways in which we can embrace the idea of the “perpetual digital dossier”, and harness it to really take ourselves places.

How I Got Into Google

To regular readers of Tropophilia, the story of its origins is familiar. We launched this blog as an outlet for the storms of ideas that brewed in our heads. Choosing the broad theme of “change” allowed us to each write about those ideas that mattered most to us individually, while unifying them under the same banner.

So there we were, a coupla’ mavericks, just straight up blogging about what we loved. We had no grand ambitions: we hoped to gain a modest audience outside of our real friends and family, and maybe even be linked a few times by some of the big players like TechCrunch or Treehugger (we’re still working on that). But really, what it’s about and what it’s always been about is following and acting on our passions. On our résumés, though, we both proudly proclaimed ourselves as co-founders of the blog and included a link.

And, though I haven’t independently confirmed this yet, I’m pretty sure that’s how I got my job at Google.

Everyone who interviewed me, from the recruiter in the phone screen to the senior attorneys during the videoconference, asked me about the blog. “What do you blog about? Why? Give an example of something you’ve learned from what you’ve researched.” Some had read the blog, some hadn’t; but the fact that I had taken the time to think and write about the industry and issues that I would address as a legal assistant was important and advantageous.

It wasn’t the blog itself — how pretty it was, or how many readers subscribed to the feed, or who had linked to us. It was merely the evidence that I cared about these things enough to write about them in my free time, and that I was proud and confident enough in that writing to include it as an attribute on my CV.

Carpe Digital

By blogging, vlogging, tweeting, or even photographing the things that you care about, you give yourself the opportunity to own your online personality. When you own it, you can shape it and use it to your advantage. Those who say you waste your time using online tools like social networks and blog platforms to enhance your qualifications — they are the foolish ones, not you. Assuming you’re using them in productive ways, you’re giving yourself a leg up.

And even if that blog doesn’t get you your dream job like it did for me, you still can’t lose. You’ll be spending time developing your thoughts, writing creatively, and reading a wide variety of sources. Maybe you’ll find that you didn’t care about something as much as you thought. Maybe you’ll discover a new passion. Any way you look at it, blogging (done right) can be enriching and fulfilling. I can’t wait until our culture sees blogging not as some geeky pursuit, but as one of the most democratic and self-empowering media in history.

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Editor’s Note: This post was part of a contest in which Brazen Bloggers were asked to write about how blogging affected their lives. For a full recap and to read the rest of the submissions read this post.

 How I Got Into Google

Shared via Google Reader from How I Got Into Google for the full post.

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Tags: blog, conversation, employment, google, google search, Henry, online, Robert Scoble

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