Last night I dreamed about search engine optimization. What a nightmare. Not the dream, but the idea of dreaming about search engine optimization. (Definition: Working to become one of the top listings on Google.) The seed for my dream was planted by Wil Reynolds, the founder of a search engine optimization company in Philadelphia, who said, essentially that he wants applicants to optimize their way into a job.
"Screw the resume and show me what you've done," said Reynolds, who runs SEER Interactive, a company niftily housed in a church. (Or should it be churched in a former a house of worship?) He said he's been talking lately to an 18-year-old from Tampa, whose blogging is all about the topic. He had no idea that the person on the other end of the blog was a high school student until they had gotten to know each other. Now Reynold's hoping this high school senior goes to Penn so he can snag the whiz-kid as an intern.
Reynolds said he wants people who are passionate about search engine optimization, which is essentially a passion about scoping out Google Inc.'s algorithms and figuring out ways to test them.
Applicants come to the interviews effervescing about their passion, he said, but they don't follow through when he challenges them to "come back in six months and show me I'm craaaazzzy if I don't hire you." He wants them to start a blog and then use techniques readily available on the web to optimize it. The efforts don't have to completely succeed. He wants to see evidence of research and persistence.
So far, no one has really tried to make him craaaazzzy.
"This is social proof," Reynolds said.
One more reminder from Reynolds: Job applicants need to tend to their public personas via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other number of social networks, because small companies like his will look. It's not enough to avoid the image of perpetual partying. Also, the person must reveal himself as interesting, someone who reads, reflects, researches, experiences. "l like to know what you are up to," he said.