Tuesday, 3 December 2013
I recently came across an article on the BPS Research Digest about linking bloggers words and their personalities. It looked at a study by Tal Yarkoni who analysed the content of 694 blogs, containing an average of 115,000 words written over an average period of about two years. It then matched this with the authors’ answers to on-line personality questionnaires.
The trawl of data by Tal Yarkoni allowed him to zoom in on how certain words were used. Some strong correlations included Neuroticism with use of 'irony', Extroversion with 'drinks' and Openness correlated with 'ink'. While the specific correlations may or may not be important, the interesting point here is that blogs and other parts of the internet now allow new ways of examining and studying our personality types. Contrary to the idea that we use some idealised or false alter ego when on-line, our use of words and other on-line behaviours may in fact betray our real personality.
This got me thinking. In many different industries today, roles involve some customer or market facing activity. Increasingly our Facebook, Twitter or some other social media presence are part of our professional identity. I began to wonder if we should ask some job applicants to write a blog or maintain a Twitter feed for a few weeks as part of the recruitment process? The subject matter may or may not be related to a specific job. Rather than focus on just the content, it would be an opportunity to see how engaging, relevant and professional the candidate can be in their on-line presence. You could throw the proverbial cat among the pigeons and introduce a few trolls or incendiary comments and see how they are handled.The level of effort put in may also show how badly the candidate wants the job. The end result would inevitably be subjective but would give another understanding of the candidate, outside the comfort zone of the rehearsed interview and sanitised CV.
On the flip side, if you are hunting down the ideal job in a company you would like to work for, a blog or Twitter feed about the market or technology used in that ideal job could be a way of showing how competent you are, how badly who want it and the type of new thinking you could bring to an organisation. This is especially the case for many new jobs that previously didn't exist and don't have a defined qualification profile e.g. Social Media Marketeer, Data Scientist, SaaS Analyst. There is no one degree to qualify you for these types of jobs, you need to qualify yourself and get that across to employers.
The take way here is that a blog is another window into who we are as people, how we behave and beyond that a source of information about how motivated, competent and suitable we may be for some jobs. This can work if you are hiring or want to be hired.