Employment 2.0

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There is no doubt that the employment landscape is shifting. It’s not just the stats from the national or local employment rate. It also has little to do with the recession, getting fired, or being laid off. There is a new way of getting hired, and a simple resume on an 8 x 11 piece of white paper is not going to cut it anymore.

Young people just out of university are smarter, sharper and way more connected than most businesses. So businesses not keeping pace with what it takes to hire the best and brightest talent are going to fall behind.

Which are the businesses that will win?

For the most part, it’s going to be the ones that do not lock their employees out of Facebook and YouTube. It will be the ones that embrace the idea that work is no longer limited to 9 to 5, and that work is no longer the primary motivation for young people in terms of their career development (believe it or not, these folks want to be happy and do something good for the world). Successful businesses will also be the ones that understand that a mobile device (iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre) and a laptop is the office.

The problem is that these young people will also find it difficult to get through the regular regimen of a serious human resources department if their Facebook profile is filled with pictures of them on a weekend bender with buddies. In 2007, New York Magazine ran a brilliant cover story on youth, the Internet and privacy entitled "Say Everything" by Emily Nussbaum:

"We are in the sticky centre of a vast psychological experiment, one that’s only just begun to show results. More young people are putting more personal information out in public than any older person ever would – and yet they seem mysteriously healthy and normal, save for an entirely different definition of privacy. From their perspective, it’s the extreme caution of the earlier generation that’s the narcissistic thing. …There is another way to look at this shift. Younger people, one could point out, are the only ones for whom it seems to have sunk in that the idea of a truly private life is already an illusion. Every street in New York has a surveillance camera. Each time you swipe your debit card at Duane Reade or use your MetroCard, that transaction is tracked. Your employer owns your e-mails. The NSA owns your phone calls. Your life is being lived in public whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. So it may be time to consider the possibility that young people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones."

So, if all of these young people have these pictures and stories up online, who – exactly – are you going to hire?

What today’s youth have realized (and what some of the more progressive businesses are starting to pick up on) is that by putting themselves "out there," the benefits of having all of this content displaying who they really are, what they really like, and what they’re hoping to accomplish in life makes the risk of what might happen if this information falls into the wrong hands worth the risk. Yes, there are some nasty people out there – the kind of people who lure others out of the online channel into the real world. At the same time, we all have to realize that we are quickly becoming increasingly "naked" because of these online channels and how they facilitate our interconnectedness.

The truth is that business knows this already. Don’t think for a second that before a hire is made at a company that someone within the organization has not done a thorough Google search on a potential candidate’s online footprint. From LinkedIn and Facebook to Twitter and Flickr, everyone has a growing story to tell.

That is the new resume. We can cower back, draw the digital curtains, and blow out the virtual candles that light our online personas, or we can embrace it and recognize that the real performers of the coming decade in business will be the young people who are out there blogging, tweeting, podcasting and lifestreaming everything from the innocuous to the most important moments of their lives.

Not only will this become an amazing and living legacy for their future family, but it also becomes one of the best ways to hire for your business. We all know that a one-sheet with a list of educational facilities and previous employment positions can never tell the whole story. We also know that no potential employees are going to offer up individuals to provide personal references who won’t give a glowing review. We also know that Google never lies. If that person had a run-in with the law or if they were awarded a distinction within their community, the story is there, it’s searchable, and it can be commented on by peers and the general public.

In the end, maybe it is business that needs to wake up and realize that it’s about time for them to start saying everything.

The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business – Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here:

Vancouver Sun – Employment 2.0 – The new resume is out there.

Montreal Gazette РEmployment 2.0 РForget the 8 1/2 by 11 single-sheet resum̩.


  1. be weary, whatever tv or movie you watch, this link is now going to bite into that time, is it free, yes, do you deserve the chance, somewhat, since most if any won’t have the patience to let it load let alone watch it, then there’s the content itself, it isn’t clean, no its not dirty like that either, its just Core concepts that include the context in which why its here now,

    your mind will thank you after

  2. Interesting reading as always, Mitch.
    I suppose the only really private space will be in your own thoughts…for now.
    OK, my little conspiracy theory aside, I liked your point that the emerging workforce is smarter and more connected than their potential employers. Assuming this is true, does it mean that despite the current economic situation, the potential employee actually has more power of her work conditions than before? Will she be able to leverage her network in order to cherry-pick the company and position in which she wants to work? If so, big businesses are in more trouble than they think…

  3. Mitch you had me at “…and a simple resume on an 8 x 11 piece of white paper is not going to cut it anymore.â€? As a company that relies on creative concepts and more importantly creative thinkers to bring about success for our clients and our company we’re constantly amazed at how little effort and creativity goes into the process from potential employees. Is this the fault of our schools, society or does the new generation coming up to replace have it right?
    I agree with your post “mostly�. Interestingly enough we see different levels of engagement in social media for different groups. Surprisingly some of the younger generations (just out of school) seem to be less interested in Twitter and Blogging specifically. Is it too much work for them? But look at groups in their late 20’s to mid to late 40’s and they’ve embraced it wholeheartedly. It makes it interesting for employers hiring out of university or college as some of us are finding they aren’t as “wired� in as we’d expected them to be and many times their interest isn’t fully engaged.
    One thing I have to say about having there stuff “out there� for all to see is that we’re definitely getting a look at the real candidate and not the fluff we see through resumes, references and past experience. A resume is the candidate in their Sunday morning best. I’d rather see the “real them� with all their quirkiness (good and bad) than find out six months later this person who sold me on being a super hero was a dud. We all have our faults and HR departments are looking for “clean and polished� but manufactured candidates. There is no perfect. I think it’s refreshing to be able to take a peek behind the curtain at some of these online personalities. We’re looking for free thinkers, doers, movers and shakers not sheep.
    Mitch always great to read your posts and see you shaking things up a bit. Keep up the great work. You can read our blog at http://www.orangesprocket.com/the-daily-juice/
    Bill McGrath

  4. Indeed, the single page resume is a thing of the past, as a matter of fact, I’m going to go update mine and include a links section to facebook, positive news articles and volunteer awards!
    there’s a whole new “Resume Buildnig Market” waiting to happen, along the lines of individual “Persona Branding”. Put your best spin on your real self.
    Excellent article.

  5. Hi Mitch – a most excellent post. I will need to check out your book. Our program, WhyHire.me brings these sentiments into the classroom as part of a personal branding process done through post-secondary education. We aim to teach students the realities of job search and how to leverage social media tools – with the explicit aim of establishing a connection with that first or next employer. We packaged it with software that gives them a very declarative URL. Click over to http://whyhire.me/amy_chamberlain or Google Amy Chamberlain and Algonquin to check out her profile that she has elected to share.
    Would love your feedback!

  6. Hey Mitch,
    The whole issue with privacy is overblown. If you have nothing to hide, you wouldn’t worry. I support employers checking online social footprints of their potential employees as it reveals information with greater clarity.
    An increasing number of my peers who have recently or will be graduating from universities are aware that their profiles on Facebook are no longer safe and potential employers are looking over their shoulder.
    Profiles are now having facelifts by having photos of crazy nights being removed and notes of how much of an ass their boss is removed.
    In addition to the Facebook profile makeover, I encourage people to start their own blogs to show their true interests and personality.
    An employer can connect more with potential candidates through their photos or stories rather than the traditional resume.
    The only question is if employers are willing to invest the time and money in all of this social media research.
    Alex “Social Footprint” Ikonn

  7. Great post Mitch. And I think you hit the nail on the head with your last line: “In the end, maybe it is business that needs to wake up and realize that it’s about time for them to start saying everything.”
    The younger generation isn’t going to change — and they shouldn’t, even if they could! — so it’s the business world that will have to wake-up and embrace the “naked world”.

  8. Fantastic thoughts, Mitch. I had never considered the perspective Emily shared about the ‘private life being an illusion’, yet it makes so much sense.
    I suspect some businesses have a ways to go in grasping these new realities (and will be worse off as a result). Just the other day I overheard someone in ‘big business’ talking about how they were trying to create a policy to stop their employees from text messaging! Policies restricting technology won’t lift corporate performance or employee engagement…
    For me, this has always felt like a very common sense issue. How you ‘show up’ online is just as representative as how you ‘show up’ in person. Make some conscious decisions about that – and even deeper, make some conscious decisions about who you are, and if your actions are in conflict with that. Same goes for companies.

  9. I am an old man, and this is way too much work for me. Can’t I just do my job well, be recognized, and move on to a new job? It kills me that you are right, and I have a lot of work to do on my FB page.

  10. I’ve had this conversation with an attorney friend of mine: people who broadcast their lives on YouTube and Facebook have no expectation of privacy. I have heard stories of newly-hired employees having their offers rescinded due to incriminating photos found on these sites.
    I agree with the previous comments: You have to think very carefully about what you put out there.
    I’m not saying that it’s right or wrong; it’s just our new Web 2.0 world.

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