Much is being written about President-elect Obama’s application for employment. The new administration will fill about 7,000 jobs that last until the end of his time in office. Sarah Needleman at the Wall Street Journal wrote that you can find listings at gpoaccess.gov. She notes, “The positions are projected to be filled throughout the first year of the new administration, and will range from jobs such as director of accounting services for the Department of Defense to deputy manager of cleanup for the Department of Energy.”
Applications are available at change.gov. The site shares information about the transition and various updates, including an ethics policy.
The application itself, which includes 63 detailed questions, may deter many job seekers. In fact, Nisha Chittal at Brazen Careerist suggested that anyone who posts information online not even bother with the application. She points to questions such as:
“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”
“Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)”
“If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.”
“Please list, and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the internet.”
Certainly, anyone with a deep digital footprint would need to be careful about answering these questions. What? You forgot about that diary/blog you kept two years ago detailing an intimate relationship with someone who is anti-government? Can you imagine providing copies of everything you’ve ever published? Including comments on other blogs? What about offering your online aliases? What is the point of an alias if it’s not anonymous?
Clearly, most people are not going to be applying for one of these 7,000 jobs, but I think the application should make all of us think about what we are doing online and in our personal lives that may impact our employability later on. The fact is, when you go online, you enter a very public space and content you create will be out in cyber-space forever. Think before you post (or do) things that could incriminate you. Don’t assume that “it won’t matter” or that you “won’t use your own name, so no one will know.” I wouldn’t be surprised to see more employers asking for online aliases, and to answer honestly, it would be necessary to provide them.
So, whether or not you are thinking of going to work for President-elect Obama, this application is a wake-up call for every professional. Be sure your digital footprint isn’t resting on a pile of quicksand that is ready to swallow you whole!
Are you prepared to respond to personal questions for a job application? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Don’t forget that Keppie Careers is here to help you succeed in your search!
photo by orebokech