We always assume that clients select consultants from a prequalified set of technically competent candidates based on intangibles and personal chemistry. However, because we have increasingly been going online for our own market research and prospecting, it begs the question of whether clients do the same when looking for consultants.
It should not amaze us, but it does, how quickly technology can change business practices. A decade ago, LinkedIn and Facebook did not exist. By 2010, business had embraced both as legitimate research sources for recruiting and, yes, even for researching consultants and consulting firms. Perhaps most interesting is now clients have a way to get a real picture of large firm consultants as individuals. We can't hide behind the firm brand and are exposed to clients who want specific individuals as consultants and are less interested in the company they work for. Consultants may consider this is good or bad but it is uniformly good for clients and they are using it more and more.
Recent surveys of recruiters and businesses give a clear sense of how comfortable businesses are with researching individuals who they want to work for them (as staff or consultants). Most businesses now consider online research on individuals essential to their decisions to hire. When over 80 million individuals are Googled every day, we consultants are surely among them.
Several surveys in 2010 found:
- 79% of US recruiters and hiring managers screen candidates using online social networking profiles and blogs (Microsoft).
- 70% of US hiring managers have rejected candidates based on what they found online (Microsoft).
- 80% of business people believe their online identity is now as important as their offline personal or professional reputation (Intelius).
- 44% of online adults have searched for information about someone whose services or advice they seek in a professional capacity(Pew Internet study).
It is more than just the information you
provide about yourself
that is important. It is also what others say about you that clients and recruiters will see. A flaming response to one of your blog posts, an unflattering picture or a document that might be perceived by someone as a release of proprietary information can damage your reputation without you ever knowing it. Since you do not control everything about your online brand (and once content is on the Internet it is hard to remove) we are well advised to monitor and manage as well as we can our online identities and brand. This article
has more information about recent surveys.© 2011 Institute of Management Consultants USA