Job hunters – your web site is your brochure.

Last week I wrote a series of postings for employers, and this week I’ll touch base on things candidates should know.

Candidates: you are a product, and your web site is your brochure.
Managers: read the brochure just as you would a new product.

These days, we buy everything online.  We read the product’s web site, get excited by the marketing, and we’re sold on it even before we walk into the store.  Heck, we might not even walk into the store – we might just pick up the phone or buy it online.

Candidates: your personal web presence is your second chance to build a powerful, persuasive brand.

Managers: before you do a phone screening with a candidate, Google their name and see what comes up.

I’ve hired people strictly based off their web site.  If their web site is engaging, funny, knowledgeable and powerful, then they’re going to represent my company well too.

Candidates: always keep a clean name online – not just when you’re looking for a job.
Managers: check not just their personal site, but their online history through time.

Search for a candidate’s name online, and sometimes their personal postings on message boards show up.  For example, a database administrator candidate may show up in SQL forums asking questions about how replication works.

Here’s where the fun starts: compare the datestamps on their online messages with their resume history.  Are they posting Java questions at a time when they said they were working as a DBA?  Are they posting in-depth questions, or questions that you would have expected them to already know by that point in their career?

I’ve been doing this kind of candidate research since 2000-2001, and while I’m still in the tiny minority, it won’t last long.

Candidates: put your web site in the body of your resume, not at the top.

Recruiters chop off all of the personal contact info at the top and bottom of resumes.  I’m guessing they don’t want the company calling the candidate directly, only going through the recruiter.  Whatever.

The problem is that they keep chopping off the candidate’s web site, which is a big piece of the candidate’s resume.

The secret is to put it in the “Experience” or “Qualifications” section of the resume, like “Posts SQL Tips at BrentOzar.com.”  That way, recruiters won’t be as likely to lop that part off.

If your resume is in a Word doc, make sure the web site is a hyperlink, so it jumps right out in blue text. When a manager sees that link, it’s almost impossible not to click it. It’s like candy for a baby.

Include it in the signature of your personal emails, too, so when you’re corresponding with a recruiter, they’ll be just as tempted.

Don’t look dumbfounded or bashful when someone says they pulled up your website. Be excited and proud. “What did you think? What was your favorite part?” If you’re not excited, the interviewers will believe they stumbled across something secret, and you’ll look like an idiot.

Candidates: add some marketing fluff to your resume.
Managers: assume the resume might have some marketing fluff.

Show your personality and your knowledge in the site. Include pages about your interests to show that you’re a real human being. Don’t be dry and boring in an attempt to be inoffensive.

Marketers will tell you that you need to build a personal connection with your sales contacts. The more things you have in common with your sales prospects, the more they’ll bond with you. Your own web site should identify as many things as possible that you hold a genuine interest in. My site, for example, covers my travels, turtles, server monitoring, and other wacko things that I love doing.

Managers – caveat emptor.  Not everything on the candidate’s site may be the full truth.  I’ve seen candidates post blog items like books they’ve read recently, only to find out they didn’t actually read the book.  (Very common with business books and trendy tomes.)  I’ve also seen candidates post SQL how-to articles and code snippets, only to find out they completely copy/pasted the content.  If something looks impressive, copy/paste a particularly unique snippet into Google.  See how many other sites have that exact same content, and that’ll help track down plaigarism.

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