Playing not to lose

Every now and again I meet someone in a professional setting who is terrified of the internet.  Now these are mostly highly technical individuals who use the internet for news, entertainment, etc.  Most are even capable of building their own computers from scratch.  However, the fear is around what the internet could do to their career.

Everyone has heard (or more likely seen online) a story about some 20-something not getting a job or being fired from a job due to things they found out about their past on google/facebook/twitter.  There are two ways to handle this possibility, one is to play not to lose and try your best to keep the internet clear of any mention of you.  The second is to go on offense and make sure that when someone does search for you, they find your online presence.

What the media never covers is how many people have gotten jobs because of their internet presence.  How valuable is it when a potential employer googles a developer candidate and sees a link to their blog chock full of valuable programming techniques?  Or their numerous contribution to open source projects?

Put yourself in the employers shoes, you receive two java developer resumes of equal quality and immediately look for them on google/facebook/twitter.  Candidate one has almost no presence at all.   Candidate two has numerous hits related to previous java programming work and blog posts containing thoughts on trying to develop an iPhone App.  A further search on facebook also shows him doing keg stands with numerous young co-eds at a frat party two summers ago.

Which would you hire?

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