What happens if I Google the name on your resume and the most recent company you worked for?
When I am asked to vet a candidate for one of the companies I am associated with, the first thing I do is head to Google and see what content appears. And that's what I suggest potential employers do.
On the Web, you are what you publish
Sadly, for many job seekers, what pops up on Google are a few random things (like your membership in the company softball league), your LinkedIn profile, and not much else. Sometimes there is a Twitter feed but frequently it was started years earlier and has been abandoned or it's only updated a few times a month.
With more senior people, I always laugh when the top content when I Google your name is the press release that your company issued a few years earlier to announce you are joining.
Today's marketing and PR is about content creation. Your personal brand is also about content creation.
If you don’t care enough to build your personal brand then why should a company employ you to create a brand for them?
On Saturday at #SXSW, I met with my good friend Jon Ferrara (@jon_ferrara) who is the CEO of Nimble. Jon told me that he has a position open for a senior-level marketer and wanted to get my advice on the sort of person he should hire.
I told Jon to never look at a resume. Just delete it. Instead, administer the "Google test." We agreed that eliminates nearly all candidates from consideration.
People like Jon look for potential hires who are very active on social media and creating content. Jon and the other CEOs and senior executives I work with are not looking for professional managers. They are not looking for agency wranglers. They are not looking for talkers, they are looking for doers. They want marketers (even at the senior level) who are passionate about creating content on the Web.
Insisting on a positive result for the "Google test" makes it tough for CEOs like Jon to find qualified people, but greatly increases the chances that the marketer who ends up getting hired will be a good fit for achieving the company’s goals. Jon told me that anyone who wants to be his top marketer needs to be at least as successful on social networks as he is. Seems reasonable to me!
Prove you are a great marketer
The good news is that you can fix the problem that eliminates you from consideration for the hottest jobs.
You need to show, don't tell. You need evidence that you are passionate about your personal brand. You need to create content. Now. Starting today.
There are a bunch of things you can do, starting today, that might include some of the following: You could start a blog, create a YouTube channel, or tweet more than a few times a month. You could create an infographic about the industry you want to work in or your particular area of expertise. You could get active on some newer channels like Google Plus, Instagram and Pinterest so you can speak intelligently about them. You could sit on panels at events like SXSW and have people in the audience talk about you on social channels. These are just a few examples.
I've delivered this advice to hundreds of people. Sadly for them, I know from experience that 90% of people ignore this advice.
Will you be in the 10%?
I am convinced if you are a job seeker, you need to pay attention to this tough love.
Bonus for reading this far: People who get really clever with this strategy then target companies they want to work for and create content (a blog post or video for example) that relates to that company. Perhaps a suggestion for how that company can do something different. You want to get noticed by the marketing department of your target company? Forget sending a resume. Instead create something interesting and publish it on the Web. Your potential hiring manager will be eager to consume your work and you brand yourself as a player.