In August 1978 I started my first “proper” job. By proper I mean a job that meant I had satisfied my university examiners and was fit to be registered with the GDC. The interview process was a bit of a cattle market with all the candidates for dental house officer posts at The London Hospital being interviewed and awarded on the same day. My memory is of a full room with all the candidates trying to out-do each other in terms of experience, knowledge and who had the best referees. John “Sam” Holmes and myself had just left Newcastle each with a shiny new BDS which meant we were 6 months behind all the London graduates who qualified in a term over 4 years compared with our 5. We both decided that the two posts for which we had applied, the resident Oral Surgery House Officer jobs, were bound to be given to the more vocal candidates, the ones who had told us how good they were.
We were wrong. They wanted something that we had. I had completed an application form of sorts and submitted a curriculum vitae (cv). The Dean in Newcastle, Professor Roy Storer had given us a lecture and a handout on writing your cv, or resume, and I realised over the next few years of job interviews that other candidates did not possess such a polished document to back up their applications. I was also supported by (good) references from Prof Storer and my Oral Surgery mentor Stewart Blair.
So a document and an interview. I had not been an outstanding student in terms of academia but had enjoyed a very full life at university. I shudder to think what my Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat etc, etc profiles would have looked like. Probably they would have had details of rugby trips, skinny dipping in Leazes Park in the snow and countless parties.
Around a third (36 per cent) of the 4,000 HR professionals surveyed said they had declined to interview a candidate, or had rejected an applicant they had already interviewed, after checking their social media posts, while 65 per cent Googled prospective employees.
The process works both ways, however: 28 per cent of jobseekers said their view of an organisation was influenced by what they read about it on websites such as Glassdoor, and they were less likely to apply if they formed an unfavourable impression.
I do wonder what Prof Gordon Seward (my first boss) and the great and the good of London Hospital dentistry sitting around the boardroom table grilling me would have thought of my undergraduate antics. Would they have dismissed me out of hand because of my behaviour on a Dental Students Field Day, not offered me an interview due to the bill for damages when I spoke at the Agric-Dental debate or withdrawn the offer after seeing the photos from my mobile disco Facebook page?
If they did, and I gather from talking to clients that it is, understandably, common practice to Google prospectives, what would they have missed? What could I have missed?
We live in a world that seems to be getting more and more obsessed with safety, where every prospective student and job candidate ticks the correct boxes. Take no risks and you will never accomplish anything.
Beware of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.