Googling the New Guy

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership

has announced that Jeffrey Anderson will be the new executive director of the organization, replacing the retiring Mark Kilduff. Anderson previously was executive vice-president of global integration for BearingPoint.

In selecting Anderson, the Partnership bypassed the entire economic development profession. An executive recruiting firm hired by the VEDP screened 150 candidates over five months. Executive Director of the VEDP is quite a plum job, paying up to $200,000 annually and offering much more flexibility in hiring and firing staff than is available in state agencies.

A Google search on Anderson reveals a fascinating career message board hosted by BearingPoint. Two anonymous posters had some unflattering things to say about him, here and here.

I wonder if the search firm checked those comments out. They might be accurate; they might be jealous sniping. Those of us in the blogosphere are acutely aware of the pros and cons of anonymous posting. Would we want to be judged by anonymous criticism? Is there any other way to get contemporaneous criticism of a candidate’s performance without looking at unfiltered commentary on blogs and message boards? Lord knows only good stuff comes in the candiate’s application packet.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    If you say something bad about your friend and he gets elected, it might hurt your job prospects.

  2. Such anonymous postings are meaningless, and the minute any corporate recruiter or other responsible adult gives them any credence (and you’ve come close, Will), they will multiply like fruit flies. This is the nasty underside of this new electronic world, although gossip had plenty of ways to spread in the old days. Anybody with any drive, anybody who tries to get things done and move the deadheads forward will draw a bit of (or a large amount of) incoming fire from the losers and the slackers. I’d worry about an executive who hadn’t pissed somebody off along the way. The only way to be totally beloved is to be totally becalmed.

  3. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    SDH, agreed. I realize that I may have given credence to totally unfounded comments, but that was not my intent. My intent was to spur discussion on whether we can (or should) use this kind of info and, if so, how. We have seen many new hires (particularly in education) later found to have had problems in previous jobs. That said, I like your formulation: “the nasty underside of this new electronic world,” as well as your observation that an executive who hasn’t “pissed somebody off along the way” should worry us.

    Let me make it absolutely clear that I have no reason to believe that Jeff Anderson is anything other than an outstanding choice. This is a job where we absolutely want whoever holds it to succeed.

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