Job Search: On-line vs. In-Person 1st Impressions

Job Search Effectiveness: On-line Job Search vs. In-Person First Impressions

Chad Levitt, a guest blogger at Dan Schwabel’s Personal Branding Blog posted a blog a few days ago titled “What is Your Digital First Impression?” Chad claimed that making a digital first impression was very similar to making a personal first impression. He inferred in the blog posting that when people are searching for you on google, those first few links that come back are your first impression.

By the way, Chad is an extraordinary authority figure on personal branding, particularly in networking and sales. His own blog at The New Sales Economy Blog is one of my favorite.

No disrespect intended, but I think Chad may have defined digital first impressions a little too narrow.

In a personal meeting, you typically have one chance to make a good first impression. Blow it – and it’s over. Rarely will you have another opportunity.

On-line, first impressions are radically different. Not only are your first impressions scattered across a wide array of sites, such as LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, forums, discussion groups, Twitter, and many other indexed sites/comments.

Not only is your first impression scattered across a wide variety of sites as compared to a one-time event in person, you also have the ability to constantly improve, manage, build, develop, and evolve your first impression on-line. What appears today in a Google Search is NOT what has to appear next week.

The major question is: are you continuously working on your digital first impression so that you can be “found” by buyers, hiring managers, senior executives, recruiters, and human resources?

Let’s tackle one small area of starting to more effectively manage your digital first impressions: A few months ago, we posted on our website an 8-point Success Matrix to evaluate the effectiveness of your LinkedIn Profile. The scorecard was intended to determine if your LinkedIn profile was strong enough to let you be found by hiring managers, recruiters, and human resources.

Our research around the use of LinkedIn as a Personal Branding Tool and for Job Search 1st Impressions was depressing. Less than 10% of those who took the challenge to assess their LinkedIn Profile using our Scorecard met the minimum standard for effectiveness.

If you would like to gain a deeper understanding if your LinkedIn Profile can be more effective in helping you to be “found”, download the LinkedIn Profile Self-Assessment.


Join our LinkedIn Discussion Group where we release first all our new tools, templates, and advanced self-assessments.

About the Author

Barry Deutsch is a founding Partner of IMPACT Hiring Solutions, co-author of "You're NOT the Person I Hired", and "This is NOT the Position I Accepted". Barry is an award-winning international speaker, retained executive recruiter, and expert on hiring and retaining top talent, and executive job search.


  • By Chad Levitt, September 14, 2009 @ 7:59 pm

    You seem to have misunderstood the point of my blog post. My post points out the new and developing trend of digital first impressions. I DO NOT point out or make the case that meeting face to face is the same as meeting digitally, as you claim.

    Let me clarify some of the new trends I am pointing out in my digital first impressions post.

    I am pointing out the difference that more people are initially meeting digitally through their personal brand/online content and that this is fundamentally different from face to face meetings and the first impressions these interactions create.

    I also point out the differences in the amount of people that are exposed to your personal brand digitally versus face to face. It is a new phenomena of the digital economy that you will meet much more people digitally than face to face. Additionally, these people will find you with or without you knowing it because they will find you at their leisure through search engines and their search return results.

    Again, I DO NOT claim that meeting face to face and digitally are similar — in fact I’m revealing that digital first impressions are fundamentally different and can be harnessed through your personal brand to create more opportunities for yourself.

  • By Barry Deutsch, September 15, 2009 @ 9:54 am


    Excellent points of clarification regarding digital and face-to-face first impressions. My key point about first impressions is that in face to face meetings you have one shot or you will never be called back. I do believe the great advantage of first impressions of your personal brand/image on-line is very different. It’s not a one-shot deal. Of course, you can blow your first impression on-line by making stupid or inappropriate comments or having inappropriate pictures. That’s the extreme example.

    However, as a executive recruiter, I look at probably 10,000 profiles (personal brands/images) on-line every month. The vast majority of individuals I’ve discovered don’t post something that hurts their first impression – they just don’t post enough information. However, that may not stop me from still trying to contact them. My experience as an executive recruiter when looking at on-line profiles is more along the dimension of “can I find you” vs. how good is your on-line first impression.

    The other big benefit from on-line profiles/personal brands is that you can evolve them. You can keep adding, adjusting, modifying your profile/brand – almost like a dynamic press release or resume. Someone that didn’t make a great first impression with me 2 months ago, might make a completely different impression today. Unfortunately, you cannot do these in face-to-face meetings.

    I support your comment that personal branding can create more opportunities for yourself. Not creating a strong personal brand on-line if one of the Top Ten Job Search Mistakes identified in our research. We recently provided a FREE LinkedIn Profile Self-Assessment to our job search community. Over 2000 returned their self-assessments to us as part of a research project. Less than 10% met a minimum standard for having an strong enough LinkedIn Profile to be found by recruiters, human resources, and hiring managers.

    On another note, I am a huge fan of your blog postings. Great content and insights. Thanks for sharing your outstanding information.

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