article by Dr. John Sullivan and Master Burnett Everyone knows that Google is one of the most popular search engines for finding information. It’s quick, accurate ó and thankfully, it’s free. But only a few savvy recruiters know that Google may also be one of the easiest to use tools on the planet for both finding and assessing top professionals. You can even use it to assess your own relative “fame.” Here’s how it works. Finding Candidates The principal behind using Google as a recruiting tool is simple: experienced professionals appear frequently in its searches due to their normal professional activities. As a result, top professionals have higher Google scores (a Google score is a numerical calculation that counts the number of times that a reference to an individual appears online). A high score for an individual indicates that a person is more active in his or her field, and thus more desirable. A high Google score can be as a result of a variety of things a candidate has done, including:
- Talks they gave
- Articles they authored or are cited in
- Awards and patents they received
- Magazine and newspaper article mentions
- Appearing on benchmarking lists
- Being a corporate officer
- Getting mentioned in corporate press releases
- Being mention in web “blogs” (web opinion pieces)
- Having their own personal web page
- Professional association work
Even if their activities didn’t originally appear on the Internet, these days everything of any significance is eventually cited somewhere on the web. It might surprise you that most professionals with more than 10 years of experience (including yourself) have their own “Google score.” Although I find Google to be most effective for finding and assessing top professionals, anyone that is active on the Internet (even college students) will have a Google score. What Is Your “Google Score”? The Google website has more features than most Boolean search engines, and the search tool itself is easier to learn. It’s so easy to use that hiring managers can do these searches on their own. In fact, it’s so much fun that many people periodically run their own score (mine is 2,500). Super famous people like Tom Peters get a score of over 9,000 and HR gurus like Dave Ulrich get over 3,000. Try it by running your own score to see how many of your activities are being captured on the Internet. Assessing Candidates To test Google as a recruiting tool, first identify the top professionals in your own organization and run a Google score on each of them. Don’t be surprised when the most important individuals at your firm get a higher Google score than the “B” players. Do the same search for some key individuals at your direct competitors. If you find that the best and brightest at your firm have a high score, it’s fair to assume that the top talent at other firms will also have a high score. Google is even more powerful as an assessment tool. If you have a resume for a candidate, you only have their version of their accomplishments. But by running the candidate through a Google search you can find out more details about their professional activities. A search might provide links to speeches, articles, their personal web page, or even actual samples of their work. Reviewing their actual work will tell you more about their capabilities than any summary on a resume ever could. (One caveat is to be careful to avoid making negative decisions based on non-work activities, such as hobbies, religious activities and political activities, which can also appear in the search.) You can compare (and report to hiring managers) the relative Google score of the different candidates you provide to hiring managers. In fact, the average Google score can be used as a measure of the quality of both applicants and of new hires. Retention Scores It’s logical to assume that if you can find a competitor’s top talent, then they can also identify poaching targets at your firm by running a Google search on your employees. You can preempt their recruiting efforts by running (and ranking) your own top talent’s Google scores periodically and then using the ranked list to identify “high risk” individuals on which to target your retention efforts. Run a Skill or Firm You can run a Google search by an individual’s name but it can also be used to find individuals with a specific job skill, awards, patents, colleges attended, job titles or any company that they work or once worked for. Google is a true global search engine, so you can find resumes from professionals anywhere in the world. Google even has a language tool that allows you to translate them. The Details: How To Run a “Google Score” Your Google score is simply the number of items in the Google database that specifically relate to you. It’s important to note that your Google score is not simply the number of search results that appear when you Google yourself, i.e. search for your own name. While you and I are unique individuals, unless your name is very rare it’s likely that someone else shares it. To determine your Google score, you need to create a Google search phrase that limits the search results to pages specifically about you. This could be very easy, or very drawn out. Steps for identifying your Google score:
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- Run a search from the Google home page using your name or the name of the person you are trying to score. Example search: Dr. John Sullivan
- If none of the results on the first page of results relate to you, then try searching again placing quotation marks around your name. Also use the most popular iteration of your name in print. If you go by Bill, but everything written about you uses William, use William for your Google phrase. Example search: “Dr. John Sullivan”
- Once you have identified at least one search result that specifically relates to you, the next step is to eliminate results that do not relate to you. To do this, add additional search terms prefaced with what are known as “Boolean operators” (for example, “+”, “or”, “and”) to limit the search. Look through the results that relate to you and identify any similarities. Do they always mention some other characteristic of yours in conjunction with your name? Do the same for results about other people, looking specifically for terms that do not relate to you. Next, add terms to your search with Boolean operators to include your pages and exclude other pages. Example search: “Dr. John Sullivan” +hr OR “human resources”
- Continue refining your Google phrase until all search results returned by Google specifically relate to you. If you are famous, you can stop after the first 10 pages of search results relate specifically to you.
- Record your Google score. It is reported on the upper left had side of the Google Search Results Page. This section will read that you are on results 1-10 of about X,XXX. The total results number is your Google Score.
Other Google Elements to Take Note Of PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual web page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote ó by page A, for page B. But Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes or links a page receives. It also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.” Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query. To view the page rank for a page, install the Google Toolbar. The Toolbar adds a bar of Google related buttons to your Browser. Included is a search box, search selector for choosing Google Search, Google Image, etc, and an indicator of page rank. The toolbar is available for free download at toolbar.google.com Non-Google Recognized Free Tools with Value
- Google Monitor. The Google Monitor allows you to find the position of your web pages in Google with regards to specific keywords. It can run the same list of keywords for your website and that of you competitor so that you can compare results.
- Link Popularity Check. This is one of my favorite tools. You insert a listing of URL’s that you are interested in tracking. I like to use those that I have created, as well as the competition. This tool will then run a series of tests on the URL’s you provide, ranking them in order of traffic popularity and Google Results!