Friday, August 06, 2010

Blogher '10: TMI Session

The session I'm liveblogging now is called Authenticity or Just TMI? When Does Blogging the Personal on Your Professional Blog Hurt Your Brand?

The panelists are:
Shireen Mitchell (moderator) @digitalsista
Stephanie Bergman @stephaniebambam
Sarah Granger @sarahgranger
Jessica Lee @jessica_lee HR manager


Shirleen: My personal and professional brands are actually the same.

(From me: I'm interested in this session because it's something I've struggled with myself. Can you have a "public" brand and a "private citizen" online identity? Would you want to?)

Is there such a thing as TMI?

Jessica: It depends. As an employer, I have to make sure you're not putting something out there that hurts the company -- but it depends what job you have.

Stephanie: Yes there is such a thing as giving TMI. I hosted a show for women playing video games. Another Web site ran a contest where contestants posed naked using only a Quake video game box to cover parts. She entered and came in second. IT CAME UP AT A JOB INTERVIEW. "YOU CAN'T EVER GET THIS STUFF TO GO AWAY. I'M LUCKY ENOUGH THAT ... THE PLACES I'VE WORKED HAVE NOT REALLY CARED ABOUT IT."

SARAH: There are still ways to be authentic without sharing every detail. "some people can get away with talking abou ttheir vagina on twtiter and that's fine and that's part of their brand, but i wouldn't advise it with most job seekers."

Shireen: I know of pepole who did not get jobs in the Obama administration because they did Facebook searches and they had things on their Facebook pages. (It's asked about as part of the White House job application.)

Jessica: "Having a sense of what's important to you from a culture perspective is something you should really take the time to do." If you're someone who wants to put themselves out there with pictures online, find an organization that's accepting of that. If you interview with a company that never wants to see a pic of you holding a red cup on Facebook, do you really want to work for someone that conservative?

What are red flags?

Jessica: Since I hire communications people, if I see you can't put a sentence together that would be a red flag!

Questions: Annie from PhD in parenting. Have you considered maintaining separate online identities? I have a separate id on Twitter, etc. It's not nec that i'm embarrassed by what I'm doing, it's more strategy. If an employer is searching my name I don't want them to find page after page of activism, I want to them to find my accomplishments.

(At this point I, Carrie, Googled my full name and was glad to see that while this blog is no longer anonymous, it does not come up in the first two pages of Google results. I, too, would rather employers see my online accomplishments first.)

Stephanie: companies are learning not to let a single person become their entire online personality. At Yolo "we have tried to somewhat de-emphasize the individual personalities" when Tom leaves MySpace, it's in the New York Times.

Q from Lucretia: What about friends who don't respect what I'm NOT putting online. How do you address people who talk about you and disclose.

Question: What should HR people avoid looking up? And what should we tell young people coming into career world to do?

Jessica: Legal might tell them not to Google anything but in reality the hirers will do it. ... Tell people you're a brand and you need to take care of that brand.

Stephanie: "The first thing I do when I get a resume is look on Google and on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn I'm looking to see that your resume matches your LinkedIn page. On Google I look for examples of your work" ... I throw out a lot more resumes than I used to. (Because she can see that their work that's up there is crap.)

Sarah: I tell young people that everything you put out there can usually still be found, unless you get it down within a minute or two. On Facebook, even if it's really just your friends, if it's something you woudln't want to see in the NYT, don't put it up there.

Stephanie: I do a lot of job fair stuff (like The Ladders) "Make a conscious decision what you want your top Google search to be." "Make up your midn that you know what you want people to find when they look for you on Google. Don't just leave that to chance. Every month or so, check." Last month Spokeo was the top search result "My top search result was someone else's Web site and not mine. I had to do some" playing with meta tags.

Sarah: You have to pick your battles. Personal stories matter and carry personal weight, so sometimes it's time to lay your cards on the table.

Stephanie: I am pretty much the opposite of Sarah, where there is very little personal about me online. At Yahoo I ran Yahoo Chat an we were always fighting with hackers. They thought it would be awesome to pull up persona
l stuff on Stephanie and humiliate her.

Jennifer: I blog about HR and recruiting issues ... it's actually turned into a really great platform ... candidates google her and "they come into the convo for an intervew with more of a perspective on how does Jessica think as a recruiter.

Shireen: Me putting myself out there has changed things for me. I get a lot of requests to come out and speak. "They'll tell me we don't know how to find anybody, but they can find me."
"Because I've constantly put that out there, someone always comes up to me" and akss for assistance "i get a lot of that from all my TMI stuff."

Q: I have been the face of several brands online. i was the voice of wonka, i'm the face of KitchenAid. Do you think it tarnsihes my presonal authenticity ... the voice of wonka is the voice of kitchenaid

My question: Is it a good idea or too risky to go into a job interview knowing stuff about them from Twitter, and bring it up in conversation?

Jennifer: I think it's really smart because it shows that you've done your homework. I think you should continue diong that.

Stephanie: I don't mind when someone's looking me up and knows where I worked before. But when they talk about things on Twitter like, so, you had chicken for lunch today? It's too personal. I try very carefully to stay away from personal in job interviews. Some people will say how are your cats?

Sarah: with a job interview you want to keep everything on a certain level of discourse, no matter what the platform.

Jennifer: If you're going to go on a date with someone and you've stalked them on Facebook, and seen your photos, when you go to the date, you suppress some of that. You don't want them to know.

Shireen: Everything you see me say is what I would say to you if you meet me. Some people are looking to use the Internet as a way to be antoher personality. It's what works for you. ... "When I look at this, I don't see TMI, I see me."

Liz Rizzo, "I don';t think it's inauthentic to write about puppies on the day you know everyone's going to be looking at your blog ... as long as you like puppies ... to choose" the timing "is just smart." "in my last job hunt I was perhaps not writing my raciest material on the most recent pages of my blog. that's not inauthentic that's just being smart."

Q: Maybe the issue is Facebook and not blogging. You can play around with Google and search engine results. You can hire someone to make (the bad thing) go down. "It seems like Facebook is the common thread that seems to be the rpoblem. we should be approaching fb profiles more as pages and less as profiles."

Shireen: "The platform itself has nothing to do with it." Should u have a profile on every social network and connect them all? ... "It is your brand and you have to control your brand."

Stephanie: I have different levels for who is a friend where because of the information we share. Twitter, anyone ... Facebook, I've met you in real life ... If I'm with you on Foursquare, I'll have you at my house."

Shireen: I only use Foursquare for events like this -- I do not use FourSquare for anything personal.

Stephanie: I love FourSquare for traveling. I will check in everywhere i go because then I have a record of everywhere I went on vacation.

Q: at her college they told her not to put anything online that you woudln't want an employer to see. Do you think a lot of younger workers are learning this the hard way?

Jennnifer: They're starting to be more savvy. It depends on the area you're going to be in. If you're going into communications and you don't have the judgement to avoid these situations, it's a problem... I think they're becoming smarter but it all depends on the kind of job you're looking for, and your industry.

Shireen: I've seen people use social media to get jobs...

Wrapping it up:

Someone in the audience points out that laws about your religion, sexuality, etc. still protect you. then again, they might still discriminate against you. "employers have the responsiblity... i get (internatinal) resumes with height, weight, race, marital status, children ... you wouldn't beleive the things that people put on their resumes."

Stephanie: it is the kind of thing you should talk to your co. about. "Always ask first."

Sarah: if you work in government they won't let you write anything.

Julie from Mabel's Lables: we have a lot of young workers who tweet and blog but we insist they take our social media course. 'If they're going to bring us into it, they have to follow the rules."

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