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So, I need a job. I saw a link for Careers 2.0 and was about to create my profile. The screen confirming my information had my username and my email, which is my real name. Of course I have no objection to employers knowing my name. I am a little less enthusiastic about them seeing my questions and by extension my username.

It seemed like the fields were editable so I thought I'd just change my username to my name, but I thought, wait, will that change my username on Stack Overflow?

I didn't see this explicitly in the privacy policy. Bottom line, can I keep the two identities separate? (Now I know how Bruce Wayne must feel.)

  • AFAICT, if you don't use OpenID to authenticate, you can keep them separate. I've never tried it myself, though. – CodeGnome Aug 25 '13 at 21:58
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    The point of careers is to link them to your questions... sort of a "try before you buy" scenario. I don't think you can keep the two identities separate unless you create another account and invite yourself (or something - not sure whether that would be looked upon well or not). – ben is uǝq backwards Aug 25 '13 at 22:00
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    @benisuǝqbackwards Some things are none of an employer's business. There are lots of sites on StackExchange that are not work-related, and shouldn't be forcibly-linked to anyone's job search. Real and imaginary examples: arqade, scifi, anything religious, disabilities, and whatever's currently on area51 about cactus-oriented sexuality. – CodeGnome Aug 26 '13 at 0:32
  • I sort of feel like this is a non-issue. Before I post anything on Stack Exchange, I ask if I would be concerned if my employer saw it. If so, I either don't post it or I make sure I maintain a professional demeanor while posting. You should ideally want employers to see that you're an active learner to help differentiate yourself from the dead weight who stopped learning long ago. For sites that aren't work related, I wouldn't be concerned at all because I strive to maintain a professional demeanor wherever I go online. – jmort253 Aug 26 '13 at 1:17
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    @jmort253 While I'd love to have an employer see my SO (or Workplace) contributions, questions like this I would be far more reluctant to share with an employer. Brewing speaks on drinking habits, genealogy on my ethnicity, poker on potential gambling, money on personal finance, several on religion, and physical fitness on how (un)fit I may be. I may not be embarrassed about the questions, but were I a user who didn't realize that such things were all interconnected, I may want to split them too. – jmac Aug 26 '13 at 4:07
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    @jmac You have control over which SE accounts you add. For instance I have 15ish accounts but only 3 are linked to my profile. – Juice Aug 26 '13 at 14:45
  • @CodeGnome Who told you about me and the cactus? – punstress Sep 2 '13 at 23:23
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You do not have to have anything on your profile you don't want. You’re free to even change your name regardless of what OpenID you use, and you’re free to not link your SO profile if that's what you want. FYI, only questions that you have successfully answered can be featured on your profile, so it's not like employers are going to see anything you might find embarrassing unless they REALLY do some digging. Good luck on the job hunt!

Also, accounts on Careers are 100% separate from your account on SO, so no worries there. Nothing you do on Careers will affect your SO account.

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  • Thanks for actually addressing the question! – punstress Sep 2 '13 at 23:25
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You could keep your two identities separate, but if you're looking for a job, your reputation may actually help you!

Anecdote time!
You can clearly see I use my real name on the Stack Exchange network of sites. When I first started, I used a online handle I've been using for years. However, as I got closer and closer to thinking about looking for a new position, I figured that this was the perfect demonstration to prove to future employeers that I could troubleshoot, critically think, work in a teamed environment, learn from my own mistakes, etc. I decided to change my name to my real one.

When I began looking for jobs, I assumed that employeers were going to be Googling me as I applied. They would be stupid not to. However, it never even dawned on me to include anything about Stack Overflow on my resume.

I started interviewing with a company based in Tampa, FL, who was interested enough to fly me down for an interview. One of the first questions during the interview was, "So, tell me about your time on Stack Overflow?" I was a little surprised, but it ended up with the company offering me a job. I have no doubt that my Stack Overflow profile helped with that decision on their part.

TL;DR Your work on Stack Overflow can be helpful in your job search process. Don't count it out and don't be embarrassed about the question you ask. Just your active presence here shows to employeers that you are consistently learning and evolving.

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