C-level Executives Resistant to Online Presence

by Meg Guiseppi on September 14, 2010

Before first speaking with a prospective client, a c-level executive in commercial real estate business development, I searched LinkedIn to see if he had a complete profile. And I Googled his name to see how many search results associated with him were on the first few pages. This is my standard practice before any initial chat.

Mark’s slapdash LinkedIn profile, which only contained his name, job titles, and education – no summary or supporting information – was his only search result on page one for my Google search of his name. This was his only quality search result on any of the first several pages.

As we were discussing how we would work together on branding and job search strategies, he mentioned that a recruiter contact cautioned him that he had Googled Mark’s name and came up with only one or two search results.

“What does that tell you, Mark?”, I asked.

He said, “Well, I guess a few niche headhunters look at what’s online for people, so it’s becoming more popular, but it probably doesn’t happen that often.”

I made him aware that Googling potential candidates, and searching them on LinkedIn, was already a pervasive practice among recruiters and employer’s hiring decision makers.

When we discussed building his online footprint, he was resistant. “I don’t know about all that”, he said. “I wouldn’t feel right having my name and things about me plastered all over the place”.

To his way of thinking, LinkedIn profiles represented an accepted online presence, so it was okay with him and he figured he had to have one. He said he didn’t need or want anything else.

At the heart of Mark’s resistance was the fear of exposing himself to the world. But his fear could prolong his job search, rendering him nearly invisible to the very people whose radar he needed to get on.

Because he’s not digitally distinct, he runs the risk of being passed over by hiring authorities who source and assess good-fit candidates based on what they find (or don’t find) about them online. And with little to no online presence supporting his brand and ROI value, in their eyes he’s not social media savvy. They’ll wonder how well he’s kept up with the new world of work and business.

In my experience, there are still a lot of top-level executives who are resistant to (or don’t see the need for) having an online identity beyond their LinkedIn profiles. I wrote about this over a year ago on my Executive Resume Branding blogsite.

At the time, I was specifically seeing a lot of resistance to LinkedIn, which no longer seems to be the case. As in Mark’s case, most of the top-level execs I speak with these days know they need a LinkedIn profile, but often need help branding it and fully fleshing it out.

Mark and I discussed possible online identity-building options and strategies that may be a good fit for him – Google and other online profiles, writing book reviews on Amazon, blog commenting, etc. – and I directed him to my posts:

Does Your Online Identity Scream “Hire Me”?

10 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand Online Without a Blog

Maximize Your Executive Brand Online with the 6 P’s

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meg Guiseppi October 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for commenting, Hannah.

You make an important point – One of recruiters’ and hiring decision makers’ favorite tools to source and assess talent is LinkedIn. If you want to get on their radar, you HAVE to have an on-brand, keyword-rich, 100% complete LinkedIn profile.


2 Career Sherpa October 1, 2010 at 6:18 am

I love how this story lays out the concerns and how you overcame some of his fears.
Jobvite’s survey (http://recruiting.jobvite.com/news/press-releases/pr/jobvite-social-recruiting-survey-2010.php) says that hiring managers and recruiters do search candidates on LinkedIn more than 80% of the time. The forecast is for even more social networking recruiting this year. Having an online presence is critical. Keep up your great work!

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