Personal Disclosure and Getting Hired

So, how much do you disclose about yourself in your resume? in your interview? How much do you disclose online in social media, knowing it’s fodder for HR investigators? Is the amount of disclosure a function of a) age, 2) social status, 3) wealth, 4) personal morality, 5) self-concept, 6) fear of repercussions?

You may be an accountant, but no one knows you ride in a motorcycle club. You may be a chef, but no one knows about the fact that you live and sleep with two women. You may be a personal support worker who has only one kidney. Or, you may be a corporate vice-president who escapes to that Caribbean resort so you can live nude for 3 weeks.

Our culture (Canada-US-Europe) tolerates a great deal of variance in personal interests, some of which are close to being illegal or immoral, e.g., being nude on your own property as long as you can’t be seen by the public. Note: if the public trespasses in order to see you, they are committing the crime, not you (at least in Canada, where it is even legal for women to be topless in public as long as it is not in an obviously “sexual” way). Betting on cock-fights is illegal; but betting on racing pigeons is not. And having a personal interest in such things as Gay Pride parades, Swedish massage, smoking pot, Crete architecture, Steven King novels, space colonization, bear hunting, crotchless underwear (or no underwear), bee-keeping, professional ethics, British Royalty, stamp-collecting, bungie-jumping, and making your own beer – all may not be things people would disclose to a prospective employer, or even a current employer. Some things are better left not disclosed, or disclosed later on, when a level of trust and camaraderie has been established.

So, the question becomes “What is the degree of rapport in terms of shared personal information I am willing to create with persons in my workplace?” “What, if any, are the risks?”

As we age, we tend to drift away from concerns about image protection, and more towards nurturing personal relationships with family and friends. Unless there is a strict dress code, for example, persons in their 60s are much more willing to wear out of date fashions. Balancing one’s private life with workplace life, can indeed be tricky. We have all been to a colleague’s house-party at some time or other, and have witnessed very different behaviours or artifacts that we would not otherwise associate with that person. People come away saying “Holy crap, did you know that about Ed and Nancy?”

We tend less to worry about revelations of self as we age. An 80 year-old will do, or tell you, anything you want to know, but he/she does not usually have an employer to worry about. The trade-off between concept of self and employer’s expectations can be a tough road to hoe for some people. Self-employed persons have less concerns, as their ‘products’ are not people, and their personal reputations don’t suffer so much with disclosure. And we censure the lower-class who have ‘weird’ hobbies or personal lives, but we revere the wealthy or famous, and forgive them their ‘weirdness’. We may even silently envy their off-beat eccentricities.

Being yourself sometimes has a price-tag, especially in the workplace. Compromise is the name of the game if you have no alternatives to making your living from your avocations. But fulfillment is best when our hobbies can make us money, and our lifestyles are tolerated or enjoyed by friends.

Chin-chins.

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