Online Networking – Are You Missing the Boat?

Online Networking – Are You Missing the Boat_.jpg

Savvy executives in job search mode use the Internet extensively as they submit their resumes to executive-level boards, upload them to recruiting firms’ sites, and research companies to learn more about potential employers. It is amazing what you can find out about a company on a variety of websites, newsletters, recruiting sites, and on blogs – some of it simply basic information and some of it very revealing – positive and negative.

A new wave that is increasingly gathering momentum is the use of networking sites, both purely professional and social, in recruiting. Recruiters and employers actively use them to identify potential candidates, as well as to learn more about executive candidates that are under consideration. A recent Herman Trend Alert notes that referrals do still rank as the most valuable recruiting resource. However, it also notes that social networking sites have surpassed employment websites, ranking now as the #2 recruiting resource. This is based on hard numbers: The number of new hires recruited as well as the budget allocations of employers (results from a Direct Employers/Booz Allen Hamilton study).

Some of the major players in terms of third party search tools are:

Zoominfo – aggregates data found on the web to create a “picture” of people and companies, and claims to have profiles of over 33 million individuals and 2.6 million companies.

Linked In – social networking site that allows you to create a profile, collect endorsements, and build your network online. In a recent study, LinkedIn was shown to be one of the fastest-growing Web 2.0 sites. (“Web 2.0” simply refers to a new breed of websites that allow users to create their own content.)

The Trend Alert article also echoes a caveat I have put forth previously: Watch what you say on the Web and realize that your words could come back to haunt you. Recruiters are known to consider candidates’ own statements about themselves and controversial topics in weeding out their candidate pool. “According to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, one in four employers uses social networking web sites such as or to screen out applicants based on the information they post there. A survey found that about 63 percent of employers decided against hiring someone after seeing content the person had posted online.”

Posting your executive resume on reputable and discreet executive level sites and maintaining your own blog and/or executive portfolio on the web are good first steps in creating an online presence. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that to stay ahead in the executive employment search and career management game, it behooves executives to actively maintain profiles on social and professional networking sites, and to leverage the networking and visibility building capabilities of those sites.