Online Discussion Forum November 2006

The Online Discussion Forum’s first topic for the year covered a wide range of topics related to job search ethics. The discussion kicked off with three questions:

  • Do you Google the people who will be interviewing you?  Would you let on that you had done this?
  • Would you feel uncomfortable knowing they'd Googled you, or do you assume they will?
  • How much information should you dig for when you research an institution?

There was spirited discussion about the merits for and against ‘Googling’ or searching for information about potential employers online.

For candidates, searching the Internet for information about an institution can help you decide if you would want to work there, as well as providing more information about an institution’s profile: Lena Sweeten noted that,

"You also can find out about the strengths and weaknesses of the institution.  Are there staff members who've made an especially important mark in their field? Does the director have a reputation for engaging other local organizations in collaborative partnerships? Although I'm not currently
employed in a library, an internet search is a tactic I've used to find private sector jobs too. I think it's important to research any institution, agency, or company before taking a job there."

Information found about the institution could also form the basis of questions to ask at the interview.

So where do you look for useful information about an institution? Suggestions included:

  • For public and academic libraries, check community newspaper websites. (Lena Sweeten)
  • Back issues of American Libraries, and search the literature to see if your interviewers have published. (Karen Kohn)
  • On a tangent, see how the sports teams are doing (for the appropriate season) and reference that somewhere in the interview process.  Humour and local knowledge can break the ice sometimes! (Aaron Dobbs)
  • Don’t forget to read through reports, strategic and project plans on the institution’s website

Others mentioned that they were unaware that an institution may search the Internet for information about candidates, and some even did a search for themselves to see what kind of information came up! Several commenters pointed out that a professional portfolio online can be useful to showcase your skills – but it was up to you whether you included the URL in your Resume or CV.

Stacy Russo brought up the idea of employers needing to embrace free expression and creativity, and quoted a  blog post by Michelle Boule of A Wandering Eyre, who made the point that it is important to really understand the many uses of the Internet, and Brian Gray agreed that having material on the Internet which is a reflection of your personal time and personality should be accepted by employers.

Further points that were raised in the discussion discussed the ethics of applying for your second job after graduating, and the difference between CVs and resumes.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the November Online Discussion forum!

Back to Online Discussion Forum main page