The economy may be going through hard times, but there are jobs to be had in Washington DC. The new Obama-Biden administration has posted over 8,000 vacancies - but before you rush to get your application in, take a look at the application form:
The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.
Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages.
The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”
Now obviously, the reality of political life means that requirements are more strict for these positions than is normal for a regular job, but the article did make me wonder ... How long can it be before companies start to ask for similar information?
I'm in the middle of writing a book on building an online presence, and I had planned to point out that if you participate in forum discussions, particularly on controversial topics such as politics or religion, you should use an alias that bears no relation to your real name.
But what if companies start to ask for those aliases as part of their hiring process? Does that mean you should consider just saying nothing on the Internet? Or at least nothing on any subject that might bother someone?
It seems to me that this isn't feasible - especially for those entering the workforce for the first time during a period when life is lived as much online as offline, where political campaigns organize their supporters through social networking sites and religious discussion takes place on huge and vibrant forums.
I don't know where all this is going, but I do think we're headed for a sea change in how much our employers know about us.
What do you think?