Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Employability- Booze, Blasphemy and Butt Jokes

Last week  45% of all employers admitted that they check your Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and blog(s) before deciding whether to hire you. They also rifle through your trash and rent rooms in your neighbor’s house so they can look into your bedroom window to make sure you don’t engage in any really disgusting sex acts* in your free time. They’re not yet admitting to analyzing your toilet flushings yet… but that doesn’t mean they’re not doing it.

My first word of advice is that if you’re going to do any weird sex stuff, do it in your laundry room because no one is thinking of looking there. Second is to never behave unprofessionally… ever. When you’re in public, wear a 3-piece-suit, and only do accounting in your free time. Never be in a place where someone might overhear you drop an F-bomb, and ban cameras in any form from any place where you may be drinking wine (this includes taking communion).

Given that my topic-repertoire includes few things beyond poo jokes, butsecks, boobs and booze; I’m all over the internet, have no idea how to behave at a party where there are no family members supervising, almost always agree to having my picture taken, blog about booze and poke fun at Jesus, I’ve had to accept the fact that I will never see the inside of an interview room (until I can afford to keep a defense attorney on retainer anyway.) I will forever have to pop out babies so I can use the excuse “I’m a stay at home mom” to explain why I sit at home all day drinking… I’ll also never be able to afford nice things.

So what about you? Are you employable? Would you employ someone like me? Do you worry about your online life causing problems in meatspace? Do you avoid me in public for fear of becoming unemployable by association?

*Do the words “disgusting sex act” need the NSFW disclaimer? I think they speak for themselves. Seriously, it’s not safe for work… but mostly only because you’ll probably have to take the rest of the day off after reading it

Elyse

Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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79 Comments

  1. My Facebook page is pretty tame and I rarely even use it, and all my blog comments are pretty anonymous. However, I am strongly considering going to a town hall meeting about health care reform tomorrow night so maybe I can cancel out some of the crazy and represent the vast majority of Americans who want some type of health care reform but aren’t as loud about it as the opposition. I’m really not concerned about getting shot and all that, but I am a little worried that I could be on the news and then my boss and coworkers would find out that I’m a closet liberal. I don’t plan on getting all crazy and packing heat or bringing protest signs, but if I get a chance to ask a question, I’ll make it clear that I, along with most other Americans, want some reform. I’m sure I wouldn’t get fired for it, but it could make things really awkward and uncomfortable at work.

  2. I am employable (have job), not only would I hire ‘someone like you’, it’s a joy to have ‘someone like you’ around at a boring place of business. I don’t have much of an online presence, plus if you Google my real name, a “celebrity” who shares my name comes up, so I’m virtually un-google-able.
    And Elyse, we don’t avoid you. We just live in different cities. That’s all.

  3. Facebook me is pretty tame-at most, they might see I’m somewhat manic-depressive. The FREAKY me is kept behind a NING group that is password protect and by invitation only. Basically, in order to see what I’m in to, you have to be in to it also.

  4. I was involved in a lawsuit a few years ago, and the opposing lawyers tried to use my blog against me.

    I wrote one thing about something or another, and about 6 months later, I wrote something that contradicted it. They tried to use that contradiction against my character. As if I was either a liar, a hypocrite, or a fool.

    By-the-by: I won the case.

  5. The serious answer is: yes, I worry like hell that some employer will match the online me with the real me and fire me. But only because it’s happened before. And not enough to really work hard to stop it from happening again.

    I worry about my twitter feed, blogs, posts here… the whole enchilada. Hence the psuedonym. Not enough to stop someone who is really looking to find my real name, but enough to at least make it less google-obvious.

  6. I’m self employed, so I don’t have to worry about that sort of stuff, but I do wish you hadn’t mentioned laundry rooms, because NOW THEY WILL KNOW!

    PS. You sound like my best employees when I hired staff. However, no drinking or popping out babies on the job!

  7. i’m currently employed. my only worry if required to look for a new job would be twitter. though that’s usually pretty tame. actually i think you’d have to look pretty deep to find much objectionable there. unless i’m kidding myself. i won’t even list where i currently work on facebook, and try my darndest to avoid mentioning it on twitter.

    plus i think i really suck at interving. i’m amazed that i ever manage to get hired in the first place based on my interviewing “skillz”.

  8. @Skept-artist:

    I really hope you’re saying that the article reminded you of PZ… and not that it reminded you that you want to put PZ in your girlfriend’s vagina while you’re having sex.

    I mean, we all love PZ… and I’m sure PZ loves vagina… but… you know.

  9. Let’s see… I rail against religion and other forms of woo on my Daisies and Shit blog, I’m a registered Bright, a member of the Atheist Nexus, a polyamorist, and my web comic is mostly about masturbation and sarcasm.

    In short – yes, I worry about my empl0yability quite a bit. Especially as I intend to go back to school next fall to pursue a career as a High School Biology teacher.

    Still, who I am is who I am. With luck, schools will find that I’m a damn good teacher and not worry too much about my private life.

  10. Luckily, Facebook and MySpace did not exist when I applied for my current job, and I was wise enough to use my @hotmail.com e-mail instead of my @yourmom.com account when applying.

    I think Facebook has negatively affected my relationships in real life, because I never ever wanted to know all of those things about them, ever. Ever. But now that I think about it, I take some pretty serious stances on stuff through my Facebook and my blog so I guess if an employer disagreed with my position on gay marriage or vaccines or choice or religion, they would find ample ammunition there to use against me. Of course, any place that would not hire me based on those positions is not a place for which I would like to work anyway. That’s why I always left my gay-straight alliance affiliation on my resume.

    But yeah. Never, ever, ever post anything you wouldn’t want the world to know. Because they will. And fast.

  11. Any potential employer googling my name would be confronted with a daunting 147,000 hits. Most of it is code snippets, parrots, news clippings, rapid prototyping and various other random trivialities collected over the past 20 years. There’s even a mention of me in several auto-generated pages where someone fed text mentioning me into a Markov chain generator to create spam-hiding chaff.

    The first several pages of google hits include such gems as:
    – Centrifugal Skateboard Basin
    – Stone Circle Operating Systems
    – Motion Deblurring Recommendations
    – Norton AV 2006 does not support the repair feature
    – Teflon lined wire reinforced drywall mud extruder
    – holy anorankh
    – Incorrect depictions of the portuguese national flag
    – Thunderstorm in a Box Mk II
    – MAME cabinet on a budget
    – More Recipes Like Whoopie Almond Chocolate Pies
    – How to make a children’s book
    – US Patent 7000222 – Method, system, and program for accessing variables from an operating system for use by an application program
    – Grandma Hill’s Cowboy Cookies

    The shear volume of banality would so overpower their senses that it’s unlikely they would be able find anything remotely objectionable before going insane (or at least going for a little nap). Needle in a haystack.

  12. I’ve done a quick google search of my full name and it doesn’t come up with much, thankfully.

    HOWEVER, I did have someone I used to work with years ago break into my e-mail accounts (and a few other accounts), find ONE old picture of me that was suspect, and then he SENT IT TO EVERYONE ON MY CONTACTS . This included my dad and work, and at the time I was working for the state, and VERY high up on the ladder — my boss was right below the Big Boss (who was an elected official).

    The picture wasn’t even all that bad. It was a fuzzy, old camera shot of me in a bubble bath. You saw part of a boob. I’m not even sure if there was nipple. At the time I took it, I was seeing someone long-distance. I mean, it really wasn’t a bad photo and if anyone else but work and MY DAD had seen it, it wouldn’t have bothered me. (I looked cute!)

    I was forced to resign. :/ If it had JUST been the picture, I probably would have been okay, but he sent quite a few e-mails saying a bunch of whack shit – long diatrabes about my being a drug addict and a horrible person. He also sent out a VERY personal e-mail conversation full of lots of sexual stuff (TO MY DAD AND EVERYONE ELSE) from when me and an ex had been getting naughty one lonely night. It was pretty intense, and I even had the police call me. They thankfully believed it wasn’t me, otherwise I could have been charged (with what, I don’t remember) for sending out harassing e-mails to state officials. D:

    And I couldn’t prove it was him, even though I knew it was him. The weirdest thing is that he is like, 55+, and we NEVER had a beef. We worked together when I was like 21-23 and hadn’t worked together in something like 2 or 3 years when he pulled this shit. It was so random and insane.

    So yeah. That sucked. That was a bad year (2007).

    In the end, I found a much better job and it all worked out. He is still making $8/hr and still has a meth habit, so the joke is on him.

    I have been tempted to call him (he still works at the same place) and tell him how much better I am doing, and thank him for forcing me to resign from a job I hated (it’s true!), which in turned helped me to land a much better job, and ask him if he enjoys making $8/hr with no insurance because he’s an idiot meth-head, but the rational part of me knows that is a bad idea. :)

    ALSO STRONG PASSWORDS PEOPLE IT IS A MUST!

  13. Not top worries about what I say. I do have my facebook settings so non friends can’t have a look and I know that’s no guarantee. I have many non skeptic family members and old friends who see my facebook stuff which provides a pretty constant level of suppression and good behavior on my part. I also have a policy of NEVER being Facebook friends with any coworkers regardless of the out side of work connection.

    And Elyse, I’d hire you in a second just because you are honest, bright and willing to express an opinion. (the economy will turn around!)

  14. My current employer lurks on facebook, but I don’t really mind. All he gets are science related and occasional political blog stuff, plus some weird zombie updates. None of which I’m all that ashamed of.

    Well, not any more ashamed than usual re: zombies.

  15. I’m pretty employable. I work in science and most of the stuff that pops up when you google me is acknowledgments in journal pubs interspersed with my knitting patterns so I’m pretty good to go.

    As for you Elyse, I’d hire you in a hot second.

  16. Self-employed. But my biz is linked to my name and some of my opinions (Primarily through Surly-Ramics). Since I do sell quite a lot of Christian lit and non-fiction, I briefly worried about believers not wanting to purchase from a heathen like me.

    Then I realized that these books are primarily from the early to mid 1900’s, not easy reading. In general, people who go out of their way to find a dry old out-of-print treatise don’t bother with researching the bookdealer.

    Although I have gotten Satanists telling me they wont buy from me unless I move the Crowley stuff from “occult” into “religion.” Good times!

  17. I’m fortunate(?) enough to share a name with several people much more prominent than myself. So you really have to filter through a lot of google results to get to ones that actually relate to me specifically. Not that there’s anything I’ve done that would prevent me from getting hired in most instances, but here in the midwest the things that would count against me most is being an atheist and a liberal.

  18. I am ALMOST untraceable online because I have a fairly common name that is shared by an infamous ex-journalist. I also use several nom de plumes to distance my online life from IRL. My Facebook is virtually spotless too. I don’t think there has ever been a pic taken of my while drunk.

  19. I just yahoo’d my name, and entry number 1-myname.com. My Name’s page of Arson.

    How unflattering.

    However a couple of entries down, was my facebook page, with my pic. Nothing too bad there. Again, maybe some manic depression and the like. But then I could claim they are discriminating against the mentally unsound.

    CRAZY PEOPLE NEED JOBS, TOO!

  20. I have had the same job (my first and only) for 23 years, so I guess I am employable. However, I am not sure if I am re-employable, as I don’t even know how to look for a job.

    And Elyse, I would hire you for certain. You could have the position that checks the Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and blog(s) of other potential hires to make sure they are sufficiently crazy and perverted.

    Oh, and of course, I would also hire you to sweep our laundry room for hidden cameras. There, two jobs already!

  21. @Steve: “The shear volume of banality would so overpower their senses that it’s unlikely they would be able find anything remotely objectionable before going insane (or at least going for a little nap). Needle in a haystack.”

    Unless, of course, they had a little help.

    “Dat’s sure a nice career ya got der, Steve. Be a shame if anytin’ happened to it.” :-)

  22. Oh yeah, and to answer the actual question: my name is apparently very common. Nothing pertaining my actual person appears on the first 50 or 60 results on Google.

    Which may actually be worse in some cases – apparently somebody with my name donated $100 to the Republican party… *shudder*

  23. I worry a little bit that potential employers will connect my real name with Mully410. My current employer knows and they haven’t fired me yet…cross my fingers.

    Luckily there are at least 2 other people all over the web with my same first and last name. I plan to pawn off the blog on one of them if a potential employer connects the dots. (of course google will probably find this post so good luck with that…). I’m the one in Aruba…

  24. I’m probably not employable. I’m out as an atheist, a nudist, and a porn aficionado on the Internet under my real name, but I don’t know if any of those would prevent me being hired. More important is that I’ve drifted from job to job without a career plan and that I spent the first 9 years of my daughter’s life as a stay-at-home dad (with some part-time gigs) and some employers (who’ve never spent the day taking care of a young child) think that means I wasn’t working.

    But I am employed. Granted, it’s an undesirable shift (4-midnight) at a boring clerical job, but it helps pay the rent. And I’m in library school hoping to get into a more professional position. I’m counting on the librarian profession’s aversion to censorship and hoping that potential employers aren’t offended by atheism, nudism, and porn.

  25. Are you employable?

    Yes, though I just got laid off last week.

    Would you employ someone like me?

    Certainly.

    Do you worry about your online life causing problems in meatspace?

    No. I think Canada is, generally speaking, far less prone to that kind of employer paranoia and privacy invasion stuff.

    Do you avoid me in public for fear of becoming unemployable by association?

    Certainly not.

  26. Like some here, I won’t list my current employer on Facebook, and won’t befriend anyone from work except 1 person who already pretty much knows the “good stuff” anyway.

    I don’t really post much on FB anyhow, since I can’t stand the place.

    I do try to keep my real name mentions on the web separate from my more fun activities. It probably helps that there are plenty of people with the same name to confuse the issue :)

  27. Are you employable

    Yes, and would still be employed had I not left my job to get my Ph.D.

    Would you employ someone like me?

    Totally. Elyse – send this fax and keep the Buzzed Aldrins coming!

    Do you worry about your online life causing problems in meatspace?

    Fortunately, my real name is nearly identical to that of a CEO from a *REALLY* big corporation, so the Google search of my name, even correctly designated in quotes, brings up too many hits to make it worth sifting through.

    Also, I live in the netherworld between the arts, academia, and tech worlds, so I’m pretty free to do whatever. Although my internet presence is so boring that I don’t think that would ever be a problem anyway.

    Do you avoid me in public for fear of becoming unemployable by association?

    Unfortunately, any perceived Skepchick avoidance has to do with geographic distance and travel logistics. I’d like to get to an event sometime.

  28. @davew: Hmm. I’m self-employed as well, but also constantly auditioning for stuff…maybe THIS is why I didn’t get the part in that touring production of Tales of Hoffman.

    No sex stuff online, really, but lots of general mouthing off. But then, anyone who’s met me would already know that I’m opinionated and mouthy, so what’s the big deal?

  29. o yea, i’m very employable. I’ve been at my current job for a little over 2 years now. Things have been well there, but i’ll probably start to look for another job next year. I think it is very unfair that some employers check your personal online life before deciding to hire you. Everyone is entitled to a personal life and that’s separate from work.

  30. In the last couple of days I have shut down all the privacy on my facebook and blog to friends-only, because I’m about to start a PhD, and I feel like I’ll be more visible to people that might matter to my future. Not that there was anything terrible on either anyway, but better to be safe. Also, my name is apparently very common, so googling me is pretty useless.

  31. I’m mostly worried that they’ll google my name and find the nutjob conservative christian douchebag who shares my name and keeps posting insane things to the internets.

    Hey score! I just googled myself and I’m actually on the first page of results now.

    Wait… is that a good thing?

  32. I just googled myself for the first time in a while and discovered that apparently someone by the same name as me used to be a designer for Google itself; I think that’ll keep me fairly hidden.

  33. I am almost certainly not employable, at least not for any length of time. It’s not that I have no saleable skills (but I probably bring the national average down) but that I’ve been out of ‘normal’ circulation for a year now and have thoughts about getting a 9-5 job only so I can get free printer paper or free coffee or a faster internet connection.

    I make considerably more than expenses just off my stocks and the government won’t stop giving me more money as long as I pretend to look for a job, and considering now that I’ve said this and the name ‘swordsbane’ is unique enough to be easily traced back to my (seldom used) MySpace account, web site and comments like this….. I’m pretty sure I just bworked what slim chance there may have been.

  34. I am definitely employable – for one thing, I live in an area where the only views I express online that are unpopular is my skepticism of CAMM and my annoyance with people who diefy Native Americans (but I’m an archaeologist, so my annoyance is often an asset when talking to REAL Native Americans who also find those people annoying).

    Also, I am in a line of work where most of the people who would hire me either know me, or know someone who has worked with me, and as a result they are more likely to ask others about me than look up my online presence. So, really, I’m in good shape.

  35. Well I was self employed. Elyse may have just put me out of business with that link. Let’s hope most people never see that so they’ll keep buying my squid.

    While I’m out and open about my skepticism and atheism I live in an area with a strong tradition if keeping noses out of other people’s business. I’ve never had a problem getting a job or keeping one.

  36. My religious beliefs are listed as
    “lay down your souls to the gods of rock n’ roll”

    a quote from “Black Metal” by Venom, the first Satanic Black Metal band.

    Plus I’m a gay.

    So you can pretty much figure it out for yourself.

  37. It’s okay. According to the search stats for my website there’s a market for octopus dildos (I don’t make any but somehow searches for it land on my site) so I could always make a living at that.

  38. I don’t have my own blog (it would cause problems for me in my chosen career), or any web presence apart from blog comments. I never use my full name, so connecting me to my comments would be hard and When I google my full name, I don’t get me.

    All in all, I’d say I’m good.

  39. @sethmanapiosaid:

    Ah. Explains so much. I’ll stop breaking your balls. But you still owe me an apology for the unwarranted character assassination.

    Wow!

    I … well, I have no rejoinder; no rebuttal.

    seth, you are an artist of rhetoric, with skills well beyond my capabilities or capacity to match. I think you may have the sharpest knives I have ever encountered online.

    You win pal.

    You’ve cut me to the quick.

    I retire.

  40. @sethmanapio:
    Showing compassion?
    Does that mean that if a person loses their job because they are sentenced to prison, we should show them compassion and release them?
    If we show a person compassion because they get laid off should we also show compassion because they merely get laid ? Should we instead show them semi-compassion? How about if instead of getting laid off they merely get off? Wait is that the same as getting laid? God damn why did I drink those three bloody Marys for breakfast, I am so confused. Ooops! I have an interview next week hope they don’t read this. Well I made no butt jokes maybe I can get a part time job. Now time for a nap.

  41. I essentially agree with Elexina and Chupacabras. If you are reading my FB page to find out about me, I probably don’t want to work for you. Mine is restricted to friends only, so there’s not much that they could see unless I let them in anyway.

    I take some stands on FB that aren’t popular, especially with the far-Right. If I were looking for a job in the bible Belt, I’d probably delete and recreate my FaceBook account and make it nice and squeaky clean.

    If I were in HR (which I’m not and never want to be), I certainly would hire you, Elyse, as well as the rest of you folks. There’s more sharp brains gathered here than at a zombie convention….brains….

    As far as my employability goes, I’m white, male and over 50. That makes me layoff bait any time the axe comes around. Age-discrimination is rampant in the US from what I’m seeing in job board comments – gender/race doesn’t seem to factor into it. That and offshoring has really cut deeply into the technical writer market. I’m trying to figure out what else I can do with a writing/communicataions degree that will make me less prone to layoffs, but I have no ideas yet. The current government IT project I’m assigned to is in deep trouble according to the rumor mill.

    I shuda’ bin a gigolo like mah Mama wanted…

  42. @Melinda:
    Not quite related to this, but I did click the link to your blog a while ago and thought you looked familiar, but didn’t quite know where. I actually read bits of your blog yesterday and found out I am in fact “the guy who gave you a drinking skeptically button”. Nice to know I had an effect ;)

    Anyway, as far as my online persona goes, I have no blog, and “exarch” is not in any way related to my name or my real identity. Although at the same time I’ve never really bothered to hide that either.
    Facebook has my real name on it, and links to enough people within the skeptical community and Live Action Roleplay (the two “embarassing” aspects of my life, especially the pictures) that it could be a problem, provided a potential employer figures out which of the 4 people you find when searching for my real name on FB is actually me, and decides to become my friend as well. Googling my name gives two facebook pages, mine and my name-sake’s …

  43. Thank you skepchick!

    When Googling my name earlier for my first response, I stumbled upon a picture of a family meet-up last weekend. One of the elderly folks had put a bunch of them online. In some of them was my girlfriend, labeled as “[my real name]’s girlfriend”. She kind of wanted them taken offline, as she’s had some stalker-issues in the past.

    Had I not by chance Googled my name today, I might not have known.

    Also, f*king hell, Google is goddamn fast at indexing nowadays … :O

  44. James K: “When I google my full name, I don’t get me.”

    That’s my problem. My real name is extremely common but apparently no one else uses ‘swordsbane’ so if I google my real name, I get nothing. If I google ‘swordsbane’, I can find out more than I really want to know about myself AND get my real name and pretty close to my address.

  45. A lot of employers check out your social network, because they’re trying to understand what kind of person you are. Having someone who fits well with the team is more important than having someone with all the correct skills.

    Skills can be taught.

    Yeah, there are some organizations – even some whole fields – where photos of you piss-drunk or involved in something kinky will make you unemployable. If you want to be a public school teacher or politician, for example, best to keep a firm lid on documenting these activities.

    Most organizations, though, aren’t going to balk at someone swearing on their blog; hell, many organizations I’ve worked at, we all went out and got drunk together, and posted the pictures on our internal network.

    My blog had both criticisms of common management practices and fairly intense vulgarity (commonly in the same post – surprising, no?) when I interviewed for my current job. They read it. The only comment was “you’d never be that intense in professional communication would you?” My laughing “no” was sufficient for them.

  46. @SicPreFix: I … well, I have no rejoinder; no rebuttal.

    —————

    It really isn’t the sort of comment one rebuts, SicPreFix. I’m empathizing with your situation. If you want to read into that, go ahead, but just because you see all these ulterior motives in my communication doesn’t mean that they’re there.

    One of the dangers of having an online presence is that it is difficult for most of us to convey emotion and tone in prose. When we mean to be emphatic, we may sound angry, when we mean to be ironic, it may come off as sardonic, and when we intend empathy, others may see a rhetorical trick.

    Autotroph points out that looking up someone’s online profile can give you an idea of what kind of person they are. I would submit that unless a profile is crafted with extreme care, it has the potential to be wildly inaccurate when read by a potential employer.

  47. I work a management position in construction, I’m sure my views, posts and memberships would be frowned upon by my right wing old school bosses (but I hope not). If you google my name though, all you see are a few recipes, a link to my private facebook, a video of my cat, and the fact that I am on my schools deans list. :-o I don’t plan on leaving this job so I hope never to have to be interviewed again but if it ever comes up, I don’t think it will be an issue. Elyse I’m sorry I couldn’t hire you, I discriminate against non-gay married individuals…Gross.

  48. My facebook page is tame. Having my parents and in-laws as facebook friends tends to motivate me. (Can’t wait until grandma joins up!)
    After I was recently laid off, I tried to “friend” my boss so that I could “keep in touch” and guilt her to hire me back. Turns out she needed to be careful with her facebook page. She had been having an affair over facebook with someone in another of our offices and planning trysts for when he was in town. She and he didn’t understand that wall posts aren’t private. I thought that was HILARIOUS!
    A web search of my name will come up with some crazy stuff, but none of it is me, so i’m not too worried. If only I did write erotic manga books that sold on Amazon. I’d be rich!

  49. I don’t think there’s anything too terribly funky about me out there, and my Facebook page is pretty nondescript. And sure, I’d hire you Elyse. I don’t know what I’d have you do, but I’m sure you’d be good for a few laughs, which is always a plus. :)

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