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Judging An Employee By Her Search Results

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I’m hesitant to bring this up because it puts me at risk of being dropped into the Pollyanna Pond – business and idealism just don’t mix, I’m told. But I wonder if employers are missing out on some exceptional talent because of snap judgments and preconceived notions about job candidates.

It’s a googleable-employee world out there. Every other week a new article comes out about somebody missing out on a job because they didn’t "google" very well. Maybe there are some pictures of them drunk somewhere. Or maybe they said something they wished they hadn’t and it was put down in eternal zeros and ones.

That doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Haven’t all of us said or done something at least a little untoward? Is the googler calling the googlee a sinner? What of the googler’s past? Spotless?

Yes, the job market is competitive. Yes, I’m heavy on the throw the first stone philosophy. Yes, a candidate should shine their shoes and practice their handshaking and eye contact. But is it too presumptive, too hasty to toss out a candidate based on their googlability?

(Google’s going to love me for using their brand name with such license, but lets get real – it is a word now.)

I wonder this because I’m starting to see a trend, at least as I am perceiving it from the piecemeal coverage I see. We already know quite well that Bill Gates didn’t finish his degree – and that would have hurt him in the job market if he hadn’t made brilliant strides of his own.

Alarm:clock reports that Craig Newmark, the founder of the wildly successful Craigslist, was "too odd" to land an engineering job. "Too odd" meant the head engineer didn’t like his "anti-capitalist ideas."

The raging success of Craigslist has to have Newmark sitting back in his chair and chuckling at a statement like that.

Just before that little nugget, Valleywag asks "Is 30 too old to start a company?" The question arises because, according to Valleywag, venture capitalists assume tech entrepreneurs "peak" at about 26.

As a 30-year-old, I think that just plain sucks. Admittedly, rounding that corner hasn’t been exactly fun – spicy foods are quickly becoming the enemy and my knees and back just aren’t what they used to be – but my mind is sharper than ever.

What was I saying?

Oh yeah, it seems employers (and investors) would be wise to take a second look at the talent they’re throwing off the table for some rather arbitrary reasons. And to borrow from an overused corporate buzz phrase, that’s not exactly "thinking outside the box."

Genius rarely comes in conventional packages. Just ask Einstein, who I hear had trouble just tying his shoes (but that could be an urban legend).  

Judging An Employee By Her Search Results
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