A whopping 82% of recruiters say positive information found about you online will improve your prospects for an executive job, and a full 50% say they have dropped an executive candidate from consideration due to information found about them on the Internet. These are observations from a recently released long-term study by ExecuNet.
“Googling” candidates is now considered a best practice among executive recruiters (90% of them do this to supplement information in your executive resume). This makes it critical that the information they find is complimentary, reinforces your brand, and validates the claims you make in your executive resume.
It is important to note that a recruiter’s primary purpose in Googling you is not to look for an excuse to disqualify you, but rather to get a more complete picture of you and what you have to offer. However, it is also important to keep in mind that there has been a 92% increase in rejections due to so-called “digital dirt” since 2005. If you are proactively managing your career, you need to do everything possible to make sure digital dirt does not derail it.
What are some of the “dealbreakers” that will doom your chances?
1) A criminal record
2) Unfavorable tweets about your management style
3) An online profile that does not align with your executive resume
4) Charges of workplace sexual harassment
5) Photos or posts on Facebook that involve drugs, alcohol, or nudity
Be careful what you tweet and watch what you post on Facebook! There is no assurance of privacy once information is on the Web, no matter how well you think it is hidden or tucked behind the walls of privacy settings. (A case in point: Recently some previously private messages posted prior to 2010 on Facebook became public on Facebook’s new Timeline.) Don’t put anything on the Information Superhighway (Internet) you would not be comfortable seeing on a billboard as you drive along the Interstate.
One way to ensure recruiters gain a good impression of you through a Google search is to populate the Internet with positive information about you which can be controlled. This strategy will also limit the impact of negative information (digital dirt).
Since 8 in 10 recruiters will look more favorably on you if they find positive information on the Web, what kinds of positive information do they find to be the most persuasive? According to ExecuNet’s survey, these are the top three categories as ranked by a sampling of 313 recruiters:
1) Subject-matter expertise (presentations, published articles, etc.)
2) Connections with top executives on a business or professional network
3) Mentions in press releases.
This means that it makes good career sense to cultivate media interviews and actively offer your expertise through presentations and published works. Strive continually to build and interact with your online networks, especially on LinkedIn. Write and promote a blog on your areas of special expertise. These things will deliver career dividends for years to come.