Expert Voices in
Career Thought Leadership
When I first entered the careers field as an executive talent agent a decade ago, I asked those with expertise and experience for their words of wisdom and advice. Universally, at some point in the conversation, the colleague offering advice about executive careers would say that the candidate’s resume could make or break their campaign. I carefully researched and discussed differing resume writing styles with experts and soon found out what made some writers better resources, in my opinion, for my executive clients. Along the way, I learned to recognize different stylistic preferences and grew to respect, even revere, various approaches.
During the intervening years, the world of executive career management including recruiting, and in turn the role the resume plays in a job search has been changing. I think it is not an exaggeration to remark that we are living a revolution. Dramatic changes in communications, technology and the economy all have shifted the relationship between prospective employee and potential employer which in turn, are forcing career industry professionals to adapt. The Career Thought Leaders Consortium is one fine example of this trend
Many in our profession have recognized this sea change and have polished their skills, updated their knowledge, added new services and transformed their businesses. They continue to push our field forward and provide the high quality services that more sophisticated clients demand. Executive clients today are more knowledgeable. They can get information via Internet search, through virtual communities and online discussions. Unfortunately for some, they master this arena by spending their own time in the job market while in transition.
What I am getting around to is that today we are light years away from the olden days of paper resumes and are living with a complexity beyond the days of broadcast faxes and mass emails. Today, a candidate’s competitive advantage is not just a great (but static) resume documenting a fantastic track record of accomplishments. Their future career success stems from how an individual communicates and distributes and makes available their reputation and unique problem-solving capabilities to those who can hire them and offer them additional opportunities to learn and grow their success. Sounds like a networking process doesn’t it? Sure, the individual has to have the goods, but just putting it in writing is not enough, just communicating this in one well-crafted document is too little and just sharing this when asked is usually not enough to ensure a career.
The best possible resume is a good starting point for discussion; a better strategy is not only to build a strong reputation (good resume content,) but to also be visible. Achievements have always been necessary and still are necessary, but are not sufficient for success. How an individual communicates their value has broadened from just a “dam good resume” occasionally distributed when the candidate was actively looking or asked to submit their credentials to being a full time, non-stop personalized PR campaign. This means being visible and searchable online.
We’ve been learning that having a personal website or online portfolio or Linkedin profile alone seldom attracts enough attention or generates enough desired contacts from prospective recruiters or hiring managers. These online pieces are major parts of a larger effort that includes an online resume, a marketing presence that is vibrant, updated regularly and contains relevant data differentiate those who get noticed. Think: what did you do today, what will you be doing tomorrow that demonstrates your abilities. It is said that past performance is no guarantee for the future. To be competitive, executives have to prove themselves, visibly speaking, in real time. In addition to producing results, they engage others. They develop new connections. They interact. They give to others. And when the timing is right, they learn about a new position and make a move. In other words, the resume is now an important part of the overall marketing plan implementation process. There is an intention to attract attention and pull opportunities towards the candidate. Contrast this to when all career marketing/job searching efforts were designed to push the candidate to potential employers.
Today’s environment means game-changing strategy and a new style for executing an effective search for candidates and the modern career industry professionals who support them. The best solution is for every employee to always have the mindset and behaviors of a potential candidate: maintain their visibility with up to date information and messaging. There’s no worry about anyone discovering they are looking for a new job because they are always open to new opportunities that are able to find them even when they are not actively looking for leads to a new job. They never are out of “job search mode” but their standard MO is inviting connections, sharing ideas and being approachable.
Woody Allen is credited with saying, “80% of success is just showing up.” But that was before the Internet and the recent rise of social media.
These days, showing up “inappropriately” on the Internet may kill your chance at a job. Academics and teachers may be at particular risk because of the responsible nature of the work and expectation of the roles.
Among college career counselors, it’s common knowledge that at least a few students have lost job offers because of “inappropriate content” on the Internet, such as photos of them drinking and disporting themselves at parties and such.
But the trend for online “data mining” seems to have stepped up considerably, according to a study done in December of 2009 by Cross-Tab, on behalf of Microsoft. Titled “Online Reputation in a Connected World,” it reports how recruiters and HR professionals use “online reputational information in their candidate review processes…”
While the sample sizes are small, involving “approximately 275 recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers, and about 330 consumers” interviewed in each of four countries, the results are striking.
Considering only the US recruiters and HR professionals,
The Trend Promises to Increase
For better or worse, recruiters and HR professionals in the US, the UK, Germany and France all expect this use of online data mining for “reputational information” to increase significantly in the next five years! Thus, even if these figures are not representative of the current state of recruiting, they may well be very soon.
Information that has influenced rejections of candidates has included
and in addition, the list includes
“Consumers” Are Not Aware
As few as 7% of US consumers surveyed believed their job search would be affected by their online reputation.
And, 19% of those surveyed think it “very appropriate” for potential employers to check their social media sites for photos and videos, versus 44% who considered it “very inappropriate.” (Note: When age is considered, 56% of the 18-24 year-olds think this is “very inappropriate.”)
This implies, of course, that most consumers are not taking steps to protect their privacy in even simple ways, and that’s not even considering the complexity of dealing with comments or text written by others about them.
While most academics have left their former peers and childish escapades behind, their Internet history may continue “just showing up,” but NOT contribute to their success.