How to Get a Better Job Without Really Trying
Potential employers can now secretly check you out online. Be sure you like what they see.
By Etelka Lehoczky

(MONEY Magazine) – If you recoil from networking events, never get around to putting out feelers and have no clue how to "work a room," congratulations! You're the ideal candidate for a terrific new job.

In human-resources lingo, you're a "passive" prospect--and a hot commodity these days because employers know that top workers are often treated well and thus may not be looking around. So-called passive recruiting isn't new, of course. It's what executive recruiters have always done. But the tactic is increasingly being used for positions lower down the corporate ladder, and that trend is being facilitated by giant databases of employment data gleaned from publicly available sources like press releases, SEC filings and articles in trade publications. Companies use all of this info to sift for high-quality passive prospects. The industry leader, ZoomInfo in Waltham, Mass., has 27 million profiles in its database, while lesser-known competitor has about 3 million. In other words, you're probably in there.

And if you aren't, you should be. More than a fifth of the Fortune 500, including blue-chip names like Pfizer, Sony and Microsoft, use these outfits as part of their recruiting process. "It's a great hiring tool," says Suzanne Villar of Alliance Enterprise Group, a Louisiana recruiting firm specializing in engineering and other technical professions. "I can get detailed results based on all sorts of search criteria, so it's easy to come up with a pool of potential candidates." Human-resources consultant John Sullivan, who has advised Oracle, Nike, Charles Schwab, Intel and Starbucks, among others, says candidates gleaned from these databases have a unique cachet. "They tell you who is the best or most noted in their field regardless of whether they have a current résumé or even want a new job," he says.

The bottom line: Even if you're not looking for a new job, you want potential employers to see you in the most flattering light. Fortunately, it's easy to take control of your profiles.

• FIND YOUR PROFILE You'll need to complete the online forms at and If you don't already have a profile, you can create one. Either way, it's free, and it takes less than 10 minutes for the basics.

• SET YOURSELF APART Next, enter details that differentiate you and increase the chance that you'll pop up during a search. If, for example, a recruiter is looking for ad buyers with television experience, he'll find your name only if your profile includes your stint at NBC.

• BUILD YOURSELF UP You can also edit your profile to your advantage. Make sure it includes all your most impressive experience (like the highest position you held with past employers), professional organizations you belong to and certifications you hold. You can also delete incorrect or unflattering information, like a job you held for only a short time. (ZoomInfo discourages people from puffing up accomplishments by requiring you to enter former employers' Web addresses when you edit your profile.)

• RAISE YOUR PROFILE One of the easiest ways to augment your information is by joining professional organizations. ZoomInfo lists these memberships at the top of your profile, even above your job history, so they are one of the first things a recruiter will see.