So last weekend, my friends Kim and Will were in town. (Yes. I had a life for a whole 48 hours. This translates into months of blog fodder for the girl who has no life the other 363 days of the year.) As I said before, both of them do web design and are interested in running their own companies and blah, blah, blah. We were talking about "personal branding," (it's one of those hip buzz phrases that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but whatever, it's the only phrase I've got for it) and whether or not it is smart to attach your online personal brand to your professional image.
Let me be completely clear. I am a girl who got a facebook account before facebook was available to the general public. There are pictures of me on facebook doing things that I never want any employer to see me doing, and while yes, I can un-tag all of those pictures, I would say the far safer and easier thing to do is just to throw up privacy settings all over the place so no employer will ever be able to see those photos. And, I still get to be myself on Teh Internetz.
Generally speaking, this describes my entire approach to recreational internetting. I have a facebook account: totally private. I have a myspace account: totally private. I have about 20 different blogs: not private, but completely devoid of my name, and therefore impossible to find on any kind of search. Despite having a sizable web presence (i.e. the 20 blogs, the tumblr, the twitter, the facebook, the myspace, etc.), you really can't find me on the internet unless you know what to look for. I like it this way.
My "personal brand" so to speak is not necessarily what employers would want to hire, I don't think. I am a pessimist. I complain. I'm not perfect...at all. 99% of the advice I give on this blog is directed at myself: the procrastinating, the needing to actually DO something if I want to BE something, the how-to-get-noticed at work business. Nothing I blog about is very, well, professional. I am not speaking as any sort of expert: not on my field, not on career building, not on life. When I read the blogs of the 20-something girls who do attach their names to their blogs (you know who I'm talking about), I think, "Oh, fuck. I'm so fucked." I'm not inspired. I'm not motivated. I just feel deep, overwhelming inferiority. Because I am not, and never have been, one of those girls.
I am 25, and most days, I'd prefer to be in jeans, t-shirt, and flip flops. I do not blow dry my hair, and it's some combination of curly and A GIANT EFFING MESS that prevents me from ever being able to just wear it down and let it air dry. So it goes straight into a ponytail as soon as it air dries enough that it won't still be wet when I pull it out of the ponytail at 10 PM. I do not wear make-up. Most of the time, I can't even be bothered to pluck my gigantic manbrows or cut my toenails. I dream of doing approximately a bajillion things, but most days, I make no meaningful strides toward any of them. Occasionally, I blog about them. The thing I get most riled up about is what lies the GOP is telling about health care reform today (and I'm completely obnoxious and over-emotional in my response, and succeed only in irritating people, I'm pretty sure) and what happened at work that day (and am completely obnoxious and over-emotional in my response, etc.)
This is who I actually am, and there is no way in hell that I want potential employers, or even my current employers, to know the full extent of my actual personality which I freely communicate on the internet, but try my best to keep under wraps everywhere else. It's not attractive. And I really, really do not want to write another one of those fucking blogs where I'm the Perfect Girl who does everything Just Right and tells everyone else How To Be Perfect, Too. I could probably do it. I could probably do it well, attach it to my resume, and have future employees go, "What an impressive young lady."
And I'd be forced to gouge my eyes out every single day for trying to tell people they should be something even I am not capable of being. Actually, really, I think it would just make my insecurities worse if I tried to write every single day about how to be Perfect.
Maybe there are companies out there who could appreciate me for who I am. Who would read my blog and see something real and legitimate and that a lot of people go through. Or they could just see another fucking whiny kid (and I know a lot of the people who read this blog often times think this, so I'm not going to kid myself by thinking other people wouldn't). Maybe it would be better if I could let potential employers see who I actually am and let them pick me on the basis of my...quirks...rather than picking me on the basis of someone more perfect and awesome than I actually am. I would probably be happier in a place where people actually like me, than being in a place where people constantly expect me to be something else. (Right now, I think the ideal at my company is some combination of Tech Genius and Brainless Corporate Drone. *sigh*)
But let's be honest. The economy isn't in a place right now where I can afford to be myself. Maybe in a year or two when things are back on track and maybe I've got something other than my bitching on the internet to show potential employers...
What do you guys think of this issue? Is it better to show employers who you really are, or to hide your true self from the job-offering public in an effort to make yourself more broadly appealing? Would you be okay revealing your webbie self to the potential-employer universe? Or do you just try to make sure that your webbie self is your most perfect and awesome self that it's not a completely horrible thing if employers make the connection between you and your web presence?