Guess who’s not getting a job in the Obama administration?

November 13, 2008

(Just FYI, this got cross-posted at Brazen Careerist, if any of you want to read it here)

Let’s talk for a second. The application for jobs in the Obama administration is, without a doubt, the most complex piece of work I have ever seen. I wanted to use other words to more accurately describe it, but I can’t. Because, if I ever intend to work in politics, I could kill my career before it has even started. Witness:

“If you have ever sent an electronic communication, including but not limited to an email, text message or instant message, that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-elect if it were made public, please describe.”

“Please provide the URL address of any websites that feature you in either a personal or professional capacity (e.g. Facebook, My Space, etc.)”

“If you keep or have ever kept a diary that contains anything that could suggest a conflict of interest or be a possible source of embarrassment to you, your family, or the President-Elect if it were made public, please describe.”

And my favorite:

“Please list, and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column, or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others. Please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the internet.”

As Web 2.0-savvy as Obama’s campaign was, his new transition team is not. Maybe the balding middle-aged executives they’re hiring into senior positions in the administration have never “used an electronic communication,” but for anyone under the age of 35 this application is going to be a virtual minefield. What packrat can track down every blog post and blog comment they’ve ever written? People our age have had blogs since they were old enough to say “internet,” for Chrissake. What happens when our generation enters the realm of career public servants and becomes serious candidates for these jobs in two decades?

In 30 years are we going to dredge up Facebook photos, blog comments, text messages, and old emails of the Secretary of State? We will have an electronic paper trail following us everywhere we go, something today’s politicians haven’t had to contend with. Who has even thought about how to deal with this? Seriously, imagine: the 50th President of the United States is probably some random, backward-baseball-cap-wearing, class-ditching, hard-partying frat guy right now, posting drunk pictures of himself on Facebook and writing on his friends’ walls about tomorrow’s barcrawl, oblivious to the fact that modern technology means that this will all resurface when he runs for office. What are you going to do about that, White House?

This vetting process might work for 2008, but it’s not going to work in 2020 when everyone will have an internet footprint that stretches back into cyberspace for years and years. That is, unless the federal government’s HR wants to drive themselves insane. Are you worried about employers googling you while applying for XYZ corporate job?….this is that job application on steroids! There’s no way to win this. Good luck to anyone crazy enough to apply!

Congratulations, President Obama: you’re going to have America’s most boring people in your administration!



  1. They need to know the location of every embarrassing moment so they can erase them for you. πŸ™‚ No. Seriously, I doubt they are looking for a clean slate they just don’t want to be surprised. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Actually, I think the only things that would constitute an embarrassment would be attending a fundamentalist church, advocating the right to bear arms, or protesting at an abortion clinic. Drunk with embarrassing (to you) pictures is right where they want you. And in 2020, that will be a prerequisite.

  2. i know someone who has worked for biden over the past two years (including while he was running for vice president) and i personally have pictures of him that the obama administration would have seen when background checking his staff and let me tell you if obama really cared he would have had biden let him go, but thats not the case πŸ™‚

    i agree with the previous comment…i think its to avoid surprises, not judge.

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