Five to ten years ago, no one could stop talking about the importance of a well-crafted online presence – a sort of personal PR, or “brand,” if you will – to a job seeker, as well as to a business of course. The internet and social media have been important recruiting tools for years now, too. But your decision to create, monitor, and hone an online presence has up until recently been a conscious one. You designed your website and social media channels, from your profile picture to your “about you” information to the work you feature in a portfolio to the comments you make or the blog posts you write. Sure, maybe you occasionally posted some things online you later thought silly. But you posted them with the understanding that the world could read them.
That’s all changing, for better or worse. Whereas before, you chose – or did not choose – to craft a presence that people, like potential employers, could find, evaluate, and use as a tool in deciding whether or not to hire you, now we know there are companies whose sole job is to track our online movements, from browsing history to click-through preferences to comment threads and even online purchases.
Engineers, developers, and other professionals for example, many of whom have never even created a social presence, collaborate online for projects. They share project-related information, post questions and answers, write for blogs, and comment on discussion boards. Big data mining companies gather, interpret, and release this data. In essence, your “online profile” is being created for you.
Kind of strange and even off-putting. There are definitely drawbacks, including privacy concerns. But there are also benefits, such as a more custom internet experience with results and content tailored to you. And when it comes to recruiting, there are also advantages.
For recruiters, the most obvious one is a bigger pool of talent and less time searching for a needle in a haystack, should they choose to leverage this technology – or even if they don’t, since a simple online search can turn up an organic presence almost as easily as a planted one. For job candidates, it means you may be presented with wonderful opportunities you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. One thing is for sure – it makes all of us more conscious of what we do online. For better or worse.