As I always do before a scheduled first conversation, I Googled the name of the new client prospect I was about to speak with, to see what his digital footprint looked like.
“Bill” is a highly accomplished C-level executive in the technology sector. His current interim position was winding down. He’d be ready to slide into another one in a few months.
Meantime, he knew he had to update his sadly outdated resume, bio and other career documents.
It became clear in our discussion, that he didn’t understand how important online reputation was and how his lack of online presence could sabotage his job search. He didn’t realize that he was probably already being Googled by people assessing whether or not he was a viable potential candidate.
Given the same qualifications and other good-fit qualities, these people are more attracted to candidates with a stronger online identity, who are more social media savvy.
Aside from a bare-bones LinkedIn profile (only his name and current job title for the professional headline – no summary, no career history, no recommendations), my Google search on Bill’s name came up with a few measly entries he hadn’t created on the third page of results.
Page one was populated with search results associated with some other people who shared his common name. One of them was a rather unsavory character. The Bill I was about to talk with probably wouldn’t be mistaken for him, but we needed to work on pushing up my Bill’s search results above the bad Bill’s.
Another search result for Bill on page three was a ZoomInfo profile that, according to the resume he had sent me, contained quite a bit of misinformation about his career history. ZoomInfo aggregates information to create profiles for some people, but what they used in Bill’s case included info about someone else who shared his name.
The last of his search results on page three was a Pipl profile – another automatically generated summary. Nothing new there. Nothing that would help people assessing him.
I looked through the first five pages of search results, and that was the pitiful extent of his online footprint.
Bill had been putting out feelers with his network, to let them know when he’d be available. You can bet that, as the word spread about him, recruiters and hiring decision makers at his target companies were looking for information about him online.
The first few pages are the most important to them, and what they DON’T find has almost as much impact as when they find digital dirt about you. They’re looking for relevant, diverse, on-brand results that consistently support your credibility as a good-fit candidate for your target companies.
Bill obviously had to work on building page one search results. To do this, he minimally needed the following:
- A 100% complete LinkedIn profile that was branded to resonate with his target companies, search optimized with relevant keywords so that hiring authorities searching LinkedIn for people like him, would land on his profile. Once complete, his profile had a better chance of moving up to page one of his Google search results.
- A corrected and completed ZoomInfo profile
- A Google profile that, given the strength of anything Google, would probably give him a page one search result. That entry would also include the photo he downloaded with the profile, giving him an even more standout search result.
After those three profiles were in place, I suggested he do the following to further build his online credibility and visibility:
- Get busy with LinkedIn Groups that are open to Google search.
- Spend time contributing to LinkedIn Answers to demonstrate subject matter expertise and thought leadership.
- Get involved with the other two of the “Big 3″ in social networks – Twitter and Facebook.
- Find relevant blogs with strong link weight to comment on.
- Write reviews of relevant books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I also suggested that, since Bill liked to write and was really good at it, he might think about starting a blogsite, and using that as his home base.