November 14, 2008
The Obama administration job application: Is keeping your nose clean online and off so much for a high-profile employer to ask?
How far would you go to secure the job of your dreams? Would you be willing to provide piles of personal and professional records, as well as those of your immediate family? How about all traces of your digital footprint -- from blogs posts to text messages to social network pages?
That's what hopeful high-ranking officials in the Obama administration are being asked to provide. According to the New York Times:
"The vetting process for executive branch jobs has been onerous for decades, with each incoming administration erecting new barriers in an effort to avoid the mistakes of the past, or the controversies of the present. It is typically updated to reflect technological change (there was no Facebook the last time a new president came to town)."
But, as the New York Times reports, the seven-page questionnaire for those seeking to join the highest ranks of the Obama administration is likely the most extensive that would-be cabinet members and top officials have ever seen, in part because it attempts to leave no digital stone unturned.
Per the New York Times, applicants must "include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages." In addition, applicants are asked to "please list all aliases or 'handles' you have used to communicate on the Internet."
Over at Brazen Careerist, some Gen Y bloggers have their laptop chargers in a twist over this news, saying that the incoming administration is out of touch and that such application requests would pretty much rule out anyone who's currently under 35 for a future job in a future White House administration a couple decades down the line.
I strongly disagree. I don't know about the folks making a stink on Brazen Careerist, but most under-35 folks I've interviewed in the past couple of years know how to keep their online persona professional and are glad to do it. Probably because it's been widely reported that employers -- in the White House or otherwise -- won't hesitate to rule out candidates who publicly display embarrassing photos of their beer bong days on their Facebook page.
Besides, if you know anyone in law, politics, or public service, you know that maintaining a squeaky-clean image is essential for them. So there's no room for misinterpretation, many attorneys, political workers, and teachers shy away from posting online profiles at all. And those who do blog or participate in online social networks know not to post anything they wouldn't paste on their door at work for all their coworkers and clients, constituents, or students to see.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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