The Price of Privacy: Are Facebook Passwords Fair Game?

First, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to my new followers – it’s so great to be connecting with other bloggers and I love all of your tweets, emails, comments, etc.  Y’all are truly the best.

Also, I’m looking for new faces to feature in the Fearless Post-Collegiate interview series.  Drop me an email at postcollegiateblog [at] gmail [dot] com and tell me a little about yourself and we’ll go from there.  I’m looking for anyone of any age and any background whose willing to share a little bit about their life, their triumphs and challenges in post-collegiate living, and their future ambitions, whatever they may be.

On to the topic of the week – and it’s a doozy:  how much privacy is a job seeker afforded these days?  As the Internet has been buzzing about the practice of requesting Facebook passwords from job seekers, it’s been interesting to see the reactions ranging from “HELL NO, HANDS OFF MY PRIVATE INFORMATION” to “If you really need a job, you’ll do anything.”

It’s a tricky issue – I tend to believe that you have to stand behind what you say, which includes what you say on the Internet.  If you have information that is shared publicly, you have to accept the reality that people (including potential employers – and your mother!) will see it.  This is why private accounts were invented – to allow you to share information that you choose with the people that you choose.  It’s also why many college career centers are encouraging young graduates to be smart about their Internet presence – Google yourself to see if anything unsavory can be found, keep personal information private, and develop a professional persona that will satisfy a future employer.

But are there legal grounds to request your password?  It’s legally within your right as a job seeker to refuse but are you jeopardizing your chance at a job?  That seems to be the concern most heavily raised on Twitter and blogs in the last day or two – if you’re desperate to find the right job, are you willing to sacrifice a little personal freedom, even temporarily?  This has never happened to me in a job interview ever but if the request ever came up, I would politely refuse and insist that I would not want to compromise my personal information.  As it’s been oft-quoted, giving up a password to a social site like Facebook is akin to turning over the keys to your house – you just shouldn’t do it.

It’s hard to be unemployed and/or job hunting right now.  The economy is still slow-growing in many areas and the market feels saturated with over-educated, under-employed, talented candidates.  But this doesn’t give employers the right to force potential employees to give up any semblance of a private life.  Just as the Internet generation is learning the repercussions of sharing information on-line and how to do so effectively and professionally, employers and head-hunters have to realize that with a global shift to virtual living that the traditional bounds of the employer/employee relationship still exist in a digital world.  And as one great commenter says on The Takeaway, unless they’re willing to give up their passwords, why should you?

Is Your Resume a Don’t?

While Sue Ellen Crandell's resume was a don't (full of lies!), her work outfit were absolute do's!

Occasionally on the blog, I do like to do more than post culturally-significant GIFs and wax poetic about the woes of my life.  On those rare days when inspiration strikes, I hope to provide a little bit of guidance and hopefully make you feel that browsing the blog at work (or in class or wherever else you may be) is a slightly productive venture!

One topic that’s been on my mind a lot is resumes.  It seems that with the start of the new year comes emails from friends (and siblings!) asking for a resume review.  First of all, good for them!  The best thing you can do with your resume is have others look at it.  While I don’t believe that’s there’s one magic lay-out or font that will guarantee you a hire, it never hurts to have multiple eyeballs sharpen the language, correct typos, and help make sure you’re presenting the best version of yourself possible.  This brings me to my first don’tdon’t be afraid to ask for help!

It may seem silly to approach these suggestions as don’ts instead of do’s but I find that, much like The Hairpin, it’s often easier to outline what does not work than to try to pinpoint what does.  Another important don’t – don’t let others tell you that you “have” to include X or that the “only acceptable” format is Y.  Those people don’t know what they’re talking about.  While there is some widely accepted formats and common sense information to include (current contact info, employment history, educational experience, special skills, etc), there is no standard resume and anyone telling you otherwise is just being bossy.

Another piece of advice I give to anyone whose resume I review is that you don’t want to sound like everyone else.  This means watching out for overused buzzwords or tired phrases.  Having been in a hiring position several times, I can tell you that everyone says they’re creative, organized, and are a team player.  Find a way to tell your potential employer by sharing your actual, unique experience instead of tossing around a worn-out expression.

This leads me to another point – don’t be vague!  Each of you is a very special snowflake – be sure that your resume reflects the experiences that make you perfect for whatever position you’re applying for.  The more specific, quantified information you can share, the more memorable you will be.  This also works in giving you several handy talking points for your (inevitable) job interview!  Along these same lines, don’t use the same resume for every position.  Tailor your resume and the provided content to the company and position you’re applying for.  I keep a master resume on file with every tiny job-related things I’ve done, from major projects that I’ve spearheaded to odd tasks I’ve taken over for other staff members.  When it comes time to apply for something new, I can take the master list and edit it down to what is relevant for the position at hand – and then I can craft the specific language further to fit that company!

So, once you feel good about your content (and had several friends review it), it should be good to go right?  Wrong – don’t neglect style!  While you should avoid graphics, photos, or anything lavish for your resume (graphic artists not included), the visual appeal of your resume is a major component.  Avoid fonts that make your resume look like you printed it straight off from WordPad – for jobs that are more tech/design-related, go with a clean sans serif font; for more traditional careers, like law or academia, find a serif font that is dignified and easy to read.  Print off a copy of your resume and look at the layout – does the information flow?  Are all the margins in line?  Is there a consistent format from section to section?

Finally, don’t forget to submit as requested.  This is a no-brainer but be sure to follow the employer’s guidelines – email to the correct person, upload to their website, send a hard copy, etc and include all the information that is requested.  Every employer is different – taking 5 minutes to review their requirements will give you a leg up on everyone who didn’t!  Whenever uploading or emailing, it’s best to convert to a PDF – it’s practically universal and maintains the stylish lay-out you’ve created!  When your resume is free of don’ts, it will be a great tool for the second part of the job hunt – nailing the interviews!  Bring copies with you for any interviews or follow-ups – or keep a copy in front of you during a phone call.

I highly recommend The Hairpin article for some additional suggestions – they also include some don’ts to ponder on including having an objective, odd date abbreviations, exaggerated margins, and anything colorful.  If you’re working in DC (or trying to!), NIH has some nice tips specific to government positions here.  You can also read some good common sense advice here, as well as some tips for recent graduates over here.

Any don’t that I forgot?  Want to share your resume advice tips?  Leave them in the comments!

Friday Frivolity: Job Cannon

Oh, Friday, how desperately I need you!  I realize that a lot of this week’s posts have been about a lot of first world problems, so just to remind you all that I know how tough it is, take to heart this advice when someone tries to push you into finding a job:

Strap on your weekend helmets and have a great weekend!

Sixth Time’s a Charm

I have been hired for what is technically my sixth job this year.  They have been as follows:

  • Non-profit jack-of-all-trades [result: mutual separation]
  • Substitute teacher [result: job I said I did but really never did]
  • Retail sales jockey [result: left for greener pastures and/or paychecks]
  • Temporary employee for insurance company [result: terminated]
  • Call center desk jockey [result: never started due to job #6]
  • Non-profit jack-of-all-trades [result of an an agonizing interview process]

It’s funny how you can end up exactly where you started, despite all the bouncing around and uncertainty and angst.

Of course, I’m not exactly where I was in March.  For one, this new non-profit position is for a much larger organization in terms of the scale of the project and the responsibilities.  Also, I had to relocate for this job – a first for me!  I am currently living [aka crashing at a friend’s place] in our nation’s capital!  Luckily, I happen to love D.C. and it’s only a short drive/bus trip from my real home here in the Blue Ridge, so it’s totally ideal.

Because it has all happened so quickly – two weeks from the day the resume was sent to the job offer – people are naturally curious as to how I managed to snag such a sweet deal.  I’m going to be truthful here, folks.  It’s really just dumb luck. The chain of events is fairly simple:

1.  I had to apply for jobs weekly for unemployment and my own sanity.
2.  My roommate had given me a few “sad bastard days” post-termination, which I had exhausted, so I had to get serious about my future.
3.  I randomly selected 5 non-profit job listings from the Washingon, DC craiglist.
4.  One of the jobs happened to be a great fit and was so enthusiastic in the phone interview, they asked me to come up to meet in person.
5.  During the face-to-face, they asked if I was willing and able to move in 7-10 days.  I lied and said yes.
6.  When I got the job offer, I had to force myself to be willing and able to move.

You know from reading this blog that job-hunting is not easy but it when it does happen, it happens fast and my best piece of advice is to say yes, yes, yes – and then force yourself to live up to your word.

Of course, I’m not pretending that I’m made in shade yet.  No job is permanent and luckily, I can keep my “country estate” in the Blue Ridge [as I’m calling it] just in case.  And I might actually “save” my “money” for a rainy day this time.  Be sure to keep reading – this next chapter might be the most exciting yet!

The Agony and the Ecstasy

I find job hunting to be a bit of an exercise in sadomasochism.  I love the thrill that a new job holds and perusing job listings can practically be a game of “imagine my life if…”  Being a nerd, I enjoy crafting the perfect cover letter and as a crossword/Jeopardy enthusiast, I take pleasure in the challenge of pummeling my resume into something that resembles an actual career progression.  For someone with a bit of OCD in them, job hunting can set you on a control high.

But then.  How quickly things change.  Once you’ve sent your resume, once it’s out of your hands, the torture begins.  The first step – waiting – isn’t the worst.  I generally play the game of lowered expectations – they won’t want me, I’m not the right fit, I don’t care about this job anyway.  It’s the next phase – the follow-up, the interviews, the samples, the so-close-you-can-taste-it that kills me.

I could write an entire post about job interviews (and probably will) because I hate them.  They’re like bad first dates – awkward, uncomfortable, forced, and with all the power in the hands of the more attractive party (in this case, the employer.)  Phone interviews are even worse – you lose all the important conversational clues we rely on to make a good impression.   Every step in the process is trial by fire – impress them enough on the phone, you get to submit writing samples, the samples are good, so you have to impress them in person, possibly multiple times – it’s exhausting!

Naturally, this is on my mind because I have a job interview today for a job that I very much want but would like to pretend that I don’t to prepare myself if I don’t get it.  The process has been a hurts so good combination of exciting and stressful.  If I don’t get it, I’ll be very disappointed and back to square one – but at least I have a plan for square one.  If I do get, I have to relocate quickly, tackle some major financial hurdles in a short amount of time, and make a strong impression immediately to hold on to the  position.

Despite my attempts to play it cool, I want this job.  Badly. It would be worth the stress and complications and difficulties for what I think could be the next serious chapter in my life.  So, I’m throwing myself into today’s interview.  Keep your fingers crossed!


I Was A Liberal Arts Major…

…and all I have to show for it is being unemployed.

I find myself in a lot of conversations about majors lately.  There seem to be two very separate but equally adamant camps:  those that believe your undergraduate major will determine the career trajectory and pay scale you will be on for the rest of your life and those who think a major is just a way of choosing friends while in college and has little effect on life thereafter.

I’m not exactly sure where I fall.  I recently stumbled upon Newsweek’s report on the best majors for big paychecks and it’s hard to argue that certain majors give you an advantage in the job market, especially as the market continues to remain competitive.  As I job hunt, I certainly can’t ignore the fact that if my undergraduate background had been focused on science, math, or computers, I would have more job options and find myself competing in a different salary bracket.  And, despite having several years of work experience since I graduated in 2007, I still get questions about what coursework I took in college.

On the other hand, I encounter countless examples of successful careers that have run contradictory to major.  Whether it’s reading up on alumna success stories (like Candy Crowley, who took an English literature major and has become one of the key players at CNN) or enjoying the personal anecdotes of friends who took biology majors and became marketing professionals for a European art museum, it’s clear that a career can be whatever you make.  Additionally, I hear complaints from just as many math and science majors as English and history majors about the difficulties finding stable, well-paying employment.

Still, it’s hard not to wish I had a back-up engineering degree to fall back on.