E Jane Dickson: Google, don't put me in a pigeonhole

Employers are now choosing job candidates on the basis of their online profile

Share
Related Topics

If a tree falls in a forest and there is no one to record the event on YouTube, does it still make a sound? This is the philosophical mindbender for the silicon generation. It was announced this week, with some fanfare, that an hour's worth of YouTube video is uploaded every second. That's an awful lot of talking dogs.

Actually, I quite like the talking dogs. I'm not sure I'd want to employ one, though, and I can't say I'm cheered by news that employers are increasingly ignoring the classic CV and choosing job candidates on the basis of their "online profile". Which is as much as to say that it's no longer what you think or know, or even what you have done that counts; the modern metric of success is how much noise you make in cyberspace.

The blogging and the tweeting and the Facebooking, the endless Googling – all those things your teenagers do as naturally as breathing, things your slow, saurian brain has dismissed as "arsing about on the computer when you should be revising" – turn out to be important life skills.

I can see that, to prospective employers, one's online activity says more about the individual than a professed love of hill-walking; maybe it's the awful, empirical proof of the cyber-footprint that frightens me, the idea that you are the sum, not of experience sifted and sorted in the traditional manner (a process once known as "growing up"), but of every fleeting 2am interest.

It frightens me even more that, as of 1 March, when Google rolls out its new, improved tracking technology, information itself will be sorted according to user-profile, with search queries "tailored" to interests already expressed on online forums such as Google+, Gmail and social networks.

Apart from ordinary concerns about privacy and targeted advertising – the latter is surely driving the initiative – this seems to me a sinister and curiously mind-shrinking refinement. If, for example, you type in "race relations" and have previously Googled "UKIP", does the search engine register your "interest" in immigration policies and lead you straight to websites dealing in Nazi memorabilia?

It can be argued that established information vectors, such as radio, TV and, ahem, newspapers, have traditionally reflected and reinforced the prejudices of their adherents, but Google's ad hominem add-on makes a hollow mockery of the broad and impartial database that has, until now, been the defining virtue of the World Wide Web.

Concern is rehearsed about the effect of the internet on how we think – scatter-gun intellects, attention spans of gnats etc. I'm willing to see the other side of the argument – clearing out the well-stocked brain in the interests of faster, more efficient processing. But I balk at a system where the brain is stocked with (and jobs secured on the strength of) the last hilarious video I forwarded to my friends of a fat man falling in mud. "I link therefore I am"? No, thanks. Or at least, not yet.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A solar energy farm in France  

Nature Studies: For all the attractions of solar power, it shouldn’t blight the countryside

Michael McCarthy
Supporters of New Democracy wave Greek flags during Antonis Samaras pre-election speech.  

Greece elections: Where does power lie? This is the question that ties the UK to Athens

Steve Richards
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project