Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Clever trick w/IP addresses and job searching

Via Twitter, an interesting post from zwitterionique, an anonymous professor with this little interesting tidbit regarding a simple professional website and their job search: 
Data collection: 
I recorded application due dates, application submission dates, requests for letters of recommendation, requests for phone/skype interviews, invitations for on-campus interviews, interview dates, and rejections. 
In addition to formal communication, I maintained a simple professional website with an IP tracker.  The site came up on the first page of results for a search on my name and I included the web address in my application materials.  I checked the hits at least a few times a week and in the case where the IP address mapped to a university, I recorded the first and second visit dates.  If I applied to multiple positions at a university, I assigned the hit to the earliest application date unless there was a good indication of department in the IP (e.g. genetics.yale.edu).   
For large geographical areas with only one university, I counted hits from the city where the university was located even if it wasn’t through a university assigned IP address (e.g. for University of Utah, also hits from Salt Lake City).  I did not do this for cities with multiple universities.  Thus, IP tracking data is much more robust for large state universities than it is for universities in areas like Boston, New York and San Francisco.  
It is likewise more accurate for universities with one open position than with multiple open positions.  Finally, it is much more accurate for applications with earlier due dates (say August through November) because later on there started to be too many hits to parse with as much granularity.   The data set suffered a bit because the task grew in complexity as other demands on my time increased and my anxiety over finding a position diminished.
One of the things that all job applicants express is the frustrating with the Great Job Application Cone of Silence that happens. It seems to me that this is one of those small ways to break that Cone - if your website is getting hits from places that you're applying, you're at least making one cut.

Readers, what has your experience been with professional websites (like about.me, etc.) 

6 comments:

  1. I personally despise linked in and making your own site about you, however I think it is needed in today's environment if you do not have a reference on the inside of the company.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I tracked IPs if visitors for my job search last year using my website, and I felt the only information gained was that there was a flurry of visits from specific institutions / cities the week or so before interviews were extended from those places, much like earthquakes before a volcano or something.

    I don't know in the end if it was worth my time to track this information, because it's not like the Cone of Silence is broken -- you still don't know anything for sure until you are contacted directly for an interview. It might even be worse for some people to find out that they're the getting website hits, but not the interviews...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Way off Topic but any comments on the new CEO of GSK? No concerns being female but her apparent non-scientific background is cause for pause (although may be premature as I have known Marketing people who were highly supportive of R&D recognizing source of new products and even though struggled to understand the science did attempt to make connections and take guidance from those with other expertise)

    ReplyDelete
  4. One thing to note if you are an applicant - many (most?) schools consider it illegal for the search committee to google, facebook, etc. any applicant, because it could be seen as discriminatory. However, if you (the applicant) provide a URL (personal webpage, linkdin, etc) then anyone on the search committee is allowed to visit that site. At least those are the rules at my institution.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Any idea how your institution enforces that rule? (I know for a fact that the people who hired me at my institution several years ago searched for me.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't heard of any enforcement for someone who has broken the rules (though I imagine many do inadvertently break the rules, which is why you should always clean up your online image before a job search), but we do get stern warnings from the dean of faculty, and any chair of a search committee must attend multiple hiring workshops (focusing mostly on diversity) where these things are discussed. From the institution's standpoint, there could be real trouble if a discrimination lawsuit was brought against them and it was found that members of the search committee used information on social media, for example, in their decision.

      Delete