People who follow my Twitter stream know that I like to share examples of stupid mistakes that people make when sending their resumes to our company. But, as Seth Godin correctly (I believe) pointed out, resumes really aren’t that necessary for really exceptional people because exceptional people have enough publically available information online that proves their suitability for relevant job openings / contract engagements. A truly exceptional person need only express interest in a position and the discussion can skip right into discussing the terms and conditions of the work to see if both sides have compatible expectations.
So if somebody were to ask me to evaluate a potential SEM employee / contractor without a resume, here’s what I’d look for to determine how “exceptional” that person is:
Do I Know You?
I’ve spent enough time in my professional community to know or know about a large number of people. If you’ve made any attempt to be visible in the community, chances are that I’ve seen your name mentioned in some context (if not read something you’ve written or actually interacted with you at some level). If I don’t know who you are, I would want to know why that is and I would want to see that you’ve been active and visible in a relevant community that, for whatever reason, I am not familiar with.
The Google Test
I’d examine the first few pages of the Google SERPS which will give me good personal & professional background about you. I would give bonus points for exceptional depth and breadth of listings. I would also make sure to grade you on your reputation management aptitude. Not everybody will have spotless Google SERPS and people will make minor reputation management errors…but I would want to definitely flag a major issue (which wouldn’t necessarily disqualify you but would definitely have to be examined in more depth).
Online Content Creation (Blogging / Article Writing / Blog Commenting / Forum Participation)
When I Google your name, I’d hope to see examples of your writing (whether it be blogs, articles or forum posts). While you don’t need to be an “A” list writer, I would want to get a good feeling for how you think and process information. I would also like to see some success at promoting your own work (whether done by you away from your primary blog / website or whether other industry professionals have alluded to your work on their blogs / websites). I’d also want to see you engage the blogosphere via relevant commenting on prominent industry blogs. If you are more of a forum poster than a blog commenter, I would want to see evidence of that plus get a sense of how well you relate to others in the forums.
If you aren’t on LinkedIn, I’d probably disqualify your immediately for you clearly have no interest in networking. I would want to make sure that your account was reasonably complete and up-to-date, and that you have at least 30-40 connections (and hopefully a lot more than that). I’d also want to see how many connections we share and how many connections of yours that I’m personally aware of. If I don’t know any of your connections that means you & I haven’t been traveling in the same professional circles which would make me question your motivation to work with me.
OK, Facebook isn’t everybody’s thing. However, I would want to see an effort placed in creating a Facebook page and making friends there. I would hope to see relevant business/ informational Facebook applications on your page and while I could accept that everybody likes to party and mindlessly waste time on fun applications, I would be a little wary of too much recreational emphasis on your Facebook page. Killing a few zombies is OK, but if you are Zombie Sith Master Warlord, you are probably not using Facebook as a networking / communication tool nearly as much as you should.
Assuming you’re on Twitter (and you should be if you’re in my industry), I would definitely pay attention to your Twittering because getting a feel for your Twitter style will give me tremendous insight into how you think and act. Twitter is a medium for a conversation and I would want to see evidence that you are comfortable engaging others. I would also check the ratio of “following others” to “being followed”. A ratio much higher than 3:1 (unless you’re brand new) probably shows that you’re not offering enough value to the Twittersphere (or aren’t trying to engage people at all). While there is value to being a Twitter voyeur, engaging with the medium will bring you maximum benefits.
If you are a search marketer, you should be engaged with Sphinn at some level. Hopefully, you are voting for stories which show engagement in the community. Even better, you should be submitting stories and I would want to get a good feel for the quality of your submissions (both what you feel is Sphinnworthy and how you describe each submission). If you are able to make stories “Go Hot”, that would definitely be a bonus because it’s pretty difficult to do without being engaged with others in the Sphinn community.
An abandoned MySpace account is a good thing. It shows you engaged with MySpace when that was the place to hang out and when better alternatives arose, you went elsewhere. If you were still very active in the MySpace community to the exclusion of the aforementioned alternatives, I’d be very worried.
If you have a big enough digital footprint, I probably don’t need to see your resume to know whether we could and should work together. Even if I couldn’t get enough information from the web about you, I still do have a fallback method. Most veteran SEO’s, myself included, can size up somebody’s search acumen quite accurately in a relatively short 5-10 minute targeted conversation. So, your resume still might not be that necessary anyway.