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I'm a recent university graduate looking for work.

For privacy reasons, I have never registered in any of the social media sites under my real name. I cannot easily be found on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, there are no pictures of me on the Internet. I really want it to stay this way.

Now almost everyone I know has profiles in the above networks and a personal site with a link to their GitHub account.

I know prospective employers tend look you up on the Internet and find it strange if you aren't there.

Is my absence in the public space seriously detrimental for my job search (in Canada)?

  • 7
    what is your industry? – bharal Apr 6 '15 at 1:57
  • 1
    I'm just a computer science grad – user33825 Apr 6 '15 at 1:59
  • 3
    @gnat I would agree that on the face of it these two questions are the same, but this one seems to be much better phrased in terms of what is on-topic for the Workplace, and I think the votes and activity reflect that. – David K Apr 6 '15 at 13:13
  • One of the biggest benefits I get from not having a Facebook account is this ... whenever someone whinges about one of the Facebook problems (stalking, not enough "likes" or "friends", etc.), I can tick them off with a nonchalant attitude, patronizing tone and a smug expression, "Why do you care? Just delete your account and be done with." The change in their expression is priceless. It is totally worth letting go of a few BS job opportunities. – Masked Man Oct 23 '16 at 16:51
67

American by the way here.

No, you are fine. And I don't think most employers look you up on social media; you aren't that interesting. Most companies run a background check to ensure you are suitable to work there. Background checks cover things like criminal background and debt (things you can't hide readily), but could be more in-depth depending on the employer (FBI for example is much more thorough than McDonald's).

If an employer asks for your social media information, it is not a place you want to work as it shows they don't understand personal boundaries and are unprofessional. The could be in the right to ask if you know how to use Facebook or Twitter if it is relevant to the position, but to ask to see your account would be a privacy invasion.

  • +1 The only cases I've heard of where people's non-professional social media profiles were checked were for "figurehead" or "ambassador" like positions where someone will be in some way publicly representing a high-profile organisation or project, where personal controversies could lead to bad publicity. For the 99% of jobs where you're not in the public eye, what you do in your free time just isn't relevant. – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 7 '15 at 8:27
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    I have received job offers based on my github, linkedin and freelancer accounts, I have never received a job offer based on my facebook account :P Not all social networks are equal – bbozo Apr 7 '15 at 11:08
  • Read the following excerpts from the instagram terms of service and decide if you still believe your profile is not for sale to background check services: "such Application may interact with, connect to or gather and/or pull information from and to your Service profile." " you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service," "You acknowledge and agree that your relationship with Instagram is not a confidential, fiduciary, or other type of special relationship," – cs_worker Apr 7 '15 at 13:46
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    @cs_worker That part of the tos is there let ig use your photographs and give up your rights to them. It does not specifically sell your entire profile or said data. That is in a different part of the tos. – morbo Oct 28 at 15:54
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Not having a picture online is fine, your privacy is your own decision.

However, github is a great site to showcase yourself on for CS, and it doesn't require either a picture or publicly disclosing your real name (instead it shows your username, which can be whatever you want). So, you get the best of both worlds. Consider joining it. Likewise, the main coding-competition websites.

(As the others say, if you were to apply for any sort of job requiring an online presence - even community evangelist, trainer or open-source maintainer, not just outright marketing - obviously those sorts of lines of work would require one.)

By the way, don't confuse "social media profile" with "professional profile" - you can't mention github and Facebook in the same sentence. Twitter is different, depending on how you use it.

  • 5
    To OP, regarding GitHub, consider creating your account under a pseudonym, which you would only put on your résumé and not link to any other online account of yours. – sleblanc Apr 6 '15 at 22:46
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    If you use a pseudonym, make it a professional looking pseudonym. – Erno Apr 7 '15 at 7:15
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    "you can't mention github and Facebook in the same sentence." - but you just did? :-] – Konerak Apr 7 '15 at 8:14
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    @Konerak I said he/she can't. I didn't say I can't :-] – smci Apr 7 '15 at 9:31
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    @Angel: github registration requires your real name, but you can pick whatever handle you want, and it doesn't disclose your name. Unlike LinkedIn. Edited my answer for clarity. – smci Apr 7 '15 at 9:33
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Not every human being feels a need to publicize their life. Frankly, I consider not having a social-media profile a mark of good sense. On the other hand, I'd find it useful if the candidate had some online technical presence -- open source participation, providing expert advice on systems like this one -- and I'd like them to at least understand the concepts behind implementing, supporting, and marketing social media since our products are used by many such systems and because intelligent curiosity is always a plus.

If you're applying for a job at Facebook, not having an online presence might hurt you. In a few, having one might help a bit -- or might hurt depending on how much they like what they see. Most places probably won't care unless you've done something particularly good (in which case your resume should mention it) or stupid/embarrassing.

  • 1
    Having things like a Github or other public repositories is like your reference to your past good work. If you don't have it, you can't point to it and say 'this is what I've done'. – TankorSmash Apr 6 '15 at 15:08
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    @Andy As someone who has interviewed with Google, Facebook, and Amazon, as well as interviewed candidates at companies I've worked at, let me just say you're wrong. Heck, my Facebook interview came about because someone had been looking for some particular functionality and had stumbled across my Github profile. They liked what they saw and apparently reached out to HR and said "talk to this guy". Obviously don't just put up some crap code to have something there, but a Github account can be a valuable piece of your portfolio as a developer. – phoebus Apr 7 '15 at 18:34
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    @Andy To be clear, I am not saying that you are at a serious disadvantage not having a public Github profile, but it's also not "probably useless" as you suggested. For low-end programmer interviews it can serve as a baseline "can this kid even use git", and for high-end interviews it can serve as a portfolio to use as a jumping-off point for in-depth discussions. – phoebus Apr 7 '15 at 18:38
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    @Andy They actually specifically referenced the code snippets in question in the initial email and in our initial technical interview, believe it or not. – phoebus Apr 7 '15 at 21:52
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    @Andy I would suggest that both of us are only capable of providing anecdotal data at the moment. I can say that nearly every time I've interviewed a candidate who provided a link to their Github I've checked it out, at least briefly. I can get an idea of what they are interested, and it's just another piece of data as I learn about them, provided the same way they provide any other info in their CV/résumé. Again I'm not saying one would be at a disadvantage for not having it, but it's not categorically useless in my experience on either side of the table. – phoebus Apr 8 '15 at 1:01
4

I'm a web developer in the US. Your question was unclear on this point, but I think not having a GitHub (or something similar) would be a strong negative. Every interview I've ever been on in this industry either asked for it or expressed pleasure in seeing I had one. No one has ever asked for the rest (which I have, and am pretty strict with the privacy settings) and I'd probably not accept a friend request from anyone I work with while we're both still here.

  • It depends who you ask. Personally, I am on your side; I like to work on fun projects in my spare time. However, some people have other activities they prefer when they get home and that's totally fine too. I would say it's a definite bonus to have, but not a strong negative if it's not present. – Seiyria Apr 6 '15 at 15:14
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    why should a GitHub be a (semi-)necessity?? there are those of us who program for a living but have the rest of their lives so filled with fun activities that we don't need to add a work-life "fun coding project" to it? that doesn't make us any less worthy of professionals. or is it a consensus by now that resigning your whole life to work is the ultimate corner a modern day slave should retreat into ? – amphibient Apr 6 '15 at 15:17
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    Absolutely not--most of my github was just learning projects from before I got my first job. A few Project Euler problems, a personal website I built. I don't think anyone even looked into it in depth, but it showed I knew how to use git and could at least do some basic problems. I'd be suspicious of an applicant who had no code samples to show. – thumbtackthief Apr 6 '15 at 15:44
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    I've spent most of my career doing web application development, and I have nothing on github or anywhere else, and its never been an issue for me, or anyone else I know for that matter. I think "strong negative" is way overstating its importance, which seems to be none. – Andy Apr 6 '15 at 16:30
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    @TankorSmash No, I don't even think its a plus. At my last gig I was involved in hiring new team members. I got the resumes unfiltered from HR and I'd spend at most five minutes reading it and then deciding if the person should come in for a first interview or not. I never once visited any sites the resume mentioned. When you've got a bunch of resumes to go through you do it quickly and find anything to rule some out (i.e., spelling / grammar mistakes, etc.) and then get back to your job. Even people who's job it is to go through resumes work like that I imagine as its not their only task – Andy Apr 6 '15 at 18:47
1

First of all, many social networking sites (Facebook in particular) have privacy settings for this very reason - you can control exactly what your prospective employers can see, and they are not legally allowed to demand access to any more than that (In America here).

However, I don't think you are in any danger. For the very reasons you've listed and more, it's not uncommon to opt out entirely from social media sites. Unless you're in a career that requires a lot of personal recognition and advertisement (like working in the social media business, or as a designer of any kind) networking is purely optional.

Though if you do decide to become more public with your social media useage, do be careful how you use it, because employers can and will find that information. They may judge you on it, positively or negatively, or they may not, but it's better to be aware and be wary of what sorts of posts you make on any publicly visible website.

Including, for example, questions you've asked on SE.Workforce. ;)

-30

Right. I can't wait to see you apply for a job as a digital marketer for IBM specializing in social media.

I am on Linkedin and Facebook and my authenticated Columbia, NYU and CUNY (City University of New York) affiliations are plain to see. I also have user accounts on technical sites such as codewars.com and trueability.com and career sites such as careers.stackoverflow.com (invitation only) for which I login through my Github, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.

Your attitude is your own business. Have it your way. It's your life, and you are entitled to your own preferences. Especially if it works for you. Everyone has the right to their own desert island.

I take the attitude that success in social networking is an integral component of my success as a professional. It matters to me that my professional connections be top quality, because I really believe that I am who I hang out with and that the quality of my professional connections that I have accumulated over time make a strong, clear statement about me. However, my attitude is purely my choice, I have thought my choice through and I have made my choice works for me.

If all you do is put up a token presence on social media, you might as well not be present at all on social media. It's either you do it right or don't do it at all. But you can do it right only if you really believe that it's the right thing to do. Otherwise, you are faking it and most of us will see through that.

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    Nowhere in the original question does the OP state that he's looking to be a digital marketer or someone who specializes in social media. I agree with your take on the situation, but only as it pertains to very specific job positions. If the OP is interested in doing social media work for a living, then yes, they should go figure that out. – BobbyScon Apr 6 '15 at 12:26
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    You've given us your opinion of what you would do, at a different level of seniority and in a different job role, but I'm having trouble seeing how this answers the question. Ideally "Is my absence in the public space seriously detrimental for my job search (in Canada)?" would be responded to with some sort of evidence or reasoning or...something other than "I disagree". – Monica Cellio Apr 6 '15 at 15:56

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