Virtual Job Seekers and Electronic Front Porches
A Conversation from Both Sides of the Hiring Process
Sitting on the front porch in some mythical small town, many of us can imagine the sense of liminality provided by this space. We are in a state of transition, both inside a clearly defined locale that may be called "private" and outside in a politically charged sphere that may be called "public." Such a space is liminal because it is both -- a site of transition where the rules are not clearly etched in the architecture or fixed by custom. Sitting on the porch, we draw near the safe confines of the home, but we are available to passers-by, on display and engaged in performance. In this space, and in other liminal locales, we cross a threshold between alternative and somewhat opposing performances of self. In that way, a homepage might better be described as a front porch -- revealing something of one's inner sanctum, but not too much. A homepage is not strictly public, but it is not truly private either.
From this perspective, we seek to consider the role of the homepage in a transitional state that all of us have experienced at one point or another, the threshold from job seeker to successful new hire. This discussion is significant given an explosion in the use of online media by applicants within and beyond the field of communication studies. Increasingly, job seekers construct themselves with more than traditional cover letters, curriculum vitae, and professional attire. These sorts of performances, strictly public, are augmented by the construction of web-sites ranging from the merely functional online vita to the sophisticated weaving of image, text, sound, and motion found in contemporary homepages, sites that suggest some manner of privacy. The question remains: How much of a glimpse might a job seeker desire to share through this communicative practice? It seems most appropriate that our discussion of this question revolve primarily around four aspects that may be defined as rhetorical, legal/political, and practical.
[Legal and Political Dimensions]
Dr. Andrew Wood and Dr. Stephanie Coopman - last updated April 13, 1999