The Smart Job Search #4: Make Your Mark Online

This is the fourth in a 10-part series entitled ‘The Smart Job Search.’ You can find the series so far by clicking here.

Not too long ago, the key to getting a great job was to write a powerful resume and a fantastic cover letter, and then target your search properly.

All of those things are still important, but they’re no longer all you have to do. Because of the Internet, today’s recruiters and hiring managers don’t have to rely on the picture you paint in your resume – instead, they can research you online to find out “the truth” for themselves.

A recent survey showed that 67% of recruiters research candidates online before scheduling an interview. That’s a huge number and it’s only going to increase. Several other studies have shown that what they find (or don’t find) makes a huge difference to hiring decisions.

Total privacy is a thing of the past

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman caused a stir recently when he said that privacy is “an old people issue.” While crudely expressed, his dismissal of privacy concerns gets to a key point, which is that, no matter how much we object, details of our lives are increasingly available online.

Even if you have never created an online profile, your name may appear in search results for a variety of different reasons. You may have been mentioned in a trade publication article. Your company may issue a press release that includes your name. Your friends might talk about you online. And some websites ( for example) create profiles based on information scraped from the web. You may well already have a profile on there now and not even know it.

Total Privacy Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing

If you have managed to completely protect your privacy to the extent that a recruiter can’t find you when he searches, you might think you’ve done well. But the chances are that the recruiter will see it differently. Especially if you work at the manager level or above. In those cases, the recruiter may well see your lack of online visibility as a black mark – a sign that you haven’t made an impression.

In addition, your absence from search results will raise concerns about your technical skills. A LinkedIn profile is now a basic expectation and if you don’t have even that, recruiters will question whether you are really up to speed with the latest developments.

You will be searched online whether you like it or not

The truth is that people are going to search you online no matter what your opinion of the practice, and they are going to draw conclusions from what they find. What those conclusions are is entirely up to you.

The smart job seeker knows this and takes advantage of the opportunities offered by social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Squidoo.

So What Can You Do?

At the most basic level, profile sites such as LinkedIn and ZoomInfo allow you to put your resume online and make yourself highly visible to recruiters looking for people like you. LinkedIn is particularly powerful and if you only build one profile, this is the one you should build.

For more, see Should I be on LinkedIn? and The 7 Mistakes you’re Probably Making on LinkedIn.

Some sites take it a step further by offering more ability to customize your profile and show much more than you could ever show on your resume by including audio, video or work samples. VisualCV is the most well-known of these options.

But beyond even this, the Internet offers enormous opportunities to the smart job seeker. It is now possible for anyone – literally anyone – to establish themselves as a well-known voice in their field or profession provided that they have useful knowledge to share and the commitment to work at it on a daily basis.

From Wine Blogger to TV Star

Consider Gary Vaynerchuck. In 2006, this wine store owner started a video blog called Wine Library TV. His informal, irreverent videos cost nothing to produce and yet by 2009, he had become one of the world’s most influential wine critics, appearing frequently on national TV and signing a $1M, 10-book deal with a major publisher. When his book “Crush It” was released, it opened at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list.

Now I’m not suggesting that signing up for Twitter will guarantee you a place on the New York Times Bestseller list (wouldn’t that be nice?!). But I am saying that you can dramatically increase your visibility within your field and industry by using free and easy-to-use tools that are available to everybody.

How this works in the real world

Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter for a moment. Imagine you are considering three resumes for a sales position and you run a google search on each candidate.

The first candidate doesn’t appear in the first few pages of search results at all. The second has a LinkedIn profile and is mentioned in a company press release. But the third has a LinkedIn profile along with a blog and a Twitter account. This candidates blogs and tweets about the sales process, his industry, and the new trends and developments that affect his work. Both his blog and his Twitter page therefore give a clear insight into his approach to his work and his passion for what he does.

Which of those candidates is the recruiter most likely to call?

Need More Help?

I’m a big advocate for the power of a strong online presence. I built my own business this way and I know it works. If you’d like to learn how it’s done, download my Blue Sky Guide to Job Search which features extensive advice on both basic and advanced strategies to build a strong online presence as well as how to use you online presence to your advantage during the application process.

Creating a strong online presence is one of the most powerful things you can do to make an impression on employers. Get this right and you’ll never be short of interviews!

In my next post, I’m going to talk about a much-maligned resource – the professional recruiter (a.k.a. the headhunter). I’ll explain why recruiters often hold the key to the hidden job market, and how you use them to access hundreds of unadvertised positions in your field. Stay tuned! And if you’re not already subscribed to my email list, sign up here and get an email every time I post a new article in this series.

In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, just post them below. I’d love to hear from you.

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