LinkedIn For Executives

‘LinkedIn is just for job-hunting or marketing your consultancy services isn’t it?’This is what my friend 'Cindy', a senior executive in an investment bank, said when over coffee, I asked her why she wasn't paying any love to her LinkedIn profile. 

Research by DHR International says that well over 80% of executives use LinkedIn often or very often, with over 70% saying that LinkedIn is their preferred social network. It is easily outstripping Facebook and Twitter as the preferred social media platform for this group. And the same research found that 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates, even for the top management jobs.

I could have rested my case there, but wanted to dig a bit deeper to explain why Cindy should be using LinkedIn better. 

Building two brands at once

Senior executives are accountable for the presence their organisation has in the marketplace and community. So having a presence on LinkedIn is part of effectively representing the organisation. If the public sees a banking executive who is well connected in the industry, has strong commitments to community and has a reassuring photo (yes, important!), it enhances trust and loyalty towards the bank.

But it’s not just about the organisation. If a senior executive has a good LinkedIn profile it’s also about their personal brand – whether you like the idea or not! Your profile on LinkedIn can also build a strong personal brand. This is achieved through crafting a career narrative that shows who you are, what your values and commitments are, and where you’re going. It’s about showcasing thought leadership and connecting with both your internal and external customers.

That’s all very well but give me an example

I pulled out my iPad and searched Mike Smith, CEO ANZ. And there he was, with a solid and dignified photo, just what I want from my banker (albeit my bankers boss....). 

Mike’s background details showcase a solid and impressive banking history, as well as memberships of important international prudential finance institutes. Just enough detail to reassure us we’re in good hands. Checking out what groups he is following shows me his commitment to Women and Leadership. Another tick. And finally he posts regular articles about issues such as gender-balance in business, business and finance in Asia, and leadership – topics that are consistent with the rest of his profile. 

OK so what do I have to do?

Cindy at this point was obviously convinced.

Start slowly

‘I suggest that that you start slowly. There’s no rush and you want to get it right’.

So the first thing is to check out a few profiles, of people who are in the same industry, at the same or higher level, people who are playing in the same space as you. But also look at some people who are completely different. You want to get an idea of what’s possible, and what’s going to fit – and not fit – with your career narrative and your own personal brand. 

And a bit of advice

‘There are a few do’s and don’ts.’ 

For example, career highlights are good: however cutting and pasting your entire resume history makes for very boring reading. Consistent messages are important. If your career is all about organisational leadership but the only groups you are following are foodie groups then there’s a disconnect. Regularity is important when posting. If you posted one brilliant thought piece in 2012 and nothing since then, it screams ‘no longer active on Linkedin, not social media savvy and possibly very disorganised’. Check out Mike Smiths profile again. He posts on average every two months. That’s enough to look current. 

It’s dead easy to start and fill out the basics of a profile yourself, however you may like to spend an hour or more with a LinkedIn expert – someone who lives and breathes the medium.

The Top Six Things Recruiters Are Looking For On LinkedIn

If you’ve ever set out on that most laudable of missions to take your career to the next level, you don’t need me to tell you what a magnificently frustrating endeavor it can soon turn out to be.

For every detailed job advertisement recruitment managers are happy to slap across the online job boards, you know -just somehow know- that there’s lots more stuff their keeping close to their suit-and-tie clad chests. If it’s not the jobs themselves, then its the secrets of what exactly they’re looking for in a candidate.

If only we could somehow read their minds, right? If only we could discover those secrets for ourselves, wouldn’t it be so much easier to take that next big leap up the career ladder into some exciting new role? Well yes, it would, but trust me, knowing some of the recruitment managers I’ve met, I wouldn’t recommend trying to read their minds; you never know what you might find in there!

Thankfully, we don’t actually need to develop psychic powers to impress those recruitment managers. These days, increasing numbers of recruiters are bypassing the job sites, and even smaller networking events, altogether, and going straight for the big one: LinkedIn.

With over 300 million members and counting, the biggest professional networking site is rife with top recruitment managers on the hunt for the right people to fill those oh-so-secretive roles.

And whilst we can’t exactly pry into the inner-workings of their minds, there is an easier way to find out exactly what they’re looking for when they scour LinkedIn for top talent: Just ask them.

Recently, I spent some time chatting to several recruiters on LinkedIn and got them to share their secrets. Here then, are the top six things recruitment managers are looking for on LinkedIn right now.

1. You. Yes, You

There may be millions of members competing for top job opportunities on LinkedIn, but I’m willing to bet the bank that none of them boast exactly the same combination of skills, strengths and experience that you do.

First and foremost then, it’s paramount that you play an active role in using Linkedin to boost your career. With such a vast number of people all trying to attract recruitment managers’ attention, filling out a basic profile and abandoning it for months at a time just won’t cut it.

Instead, you need to be present, to be posting, participating and otherwise doing all you can to make your profile visible. As with everything in life, the more you put into LinkedIn, the more you’ll ultimately get out of it.

2. Your skills and expertise

Did you know that the majority of keyword searches on LinkedIn are focused on skills and industry expertise? Now that you do, it’s time to get to work on incorporating some of those keywords into your profile. Using an effective SEO strategy for your profile, you’ll stand a better chance of ensuring that when recruiters search for someone with your skills, you’re that someone they find.

You can strengthen your efforts here by using the ‘skills’ section on your profile to add relevant terms and descriptions.

 3. A strong first impression

So, you’ve worked your magic in getting a recruitment manager to check out your profile. Now you’ve got mere seconds to keep them. Fail to make a powerful first impression in those first few seconds, and you’ll have them heading to the next profile quicker than you can say ‘lost opportunity.’

Start then by focusing on the key details that are displayed in LinkedIn’s search results. Create a captivating headline, upload a quality profile shot, and check that your location, industry and role are all present and correct.

 4. Your personality

Here’s another secret for you: Most recruiters aren’t on the hunt for a soulless, Work-a-Tron 5000 machine to carry out their bidding. Rather, they’re looking for real people with real personalities who'll fit in well with their organisation. They’re interested in finding out about you, about what drives you, inspires you, and what you’re like as a person.

OK, so you still need to remain professional when filling out your profile, but that doesn’t mean being as dull as the proverbial dishwater. Nor does it mean oversharing every last detail of your life on LinkedIn (that’s what Facebook’s for, right?), but it does mean ditching that robotic copy and injecting a little personality into your profile.

Show recruiters that not only do you have the right tools for the job, but you’re also exactly the kind of person they’d enjoy having in their team…..or leading their team.

A high-resolution profile picture of your friendly, approachable and smiling face wouldn’t go amiss here either.

5.Supporting content

Congratulations, so far, you’ve got them hooked, but the work’s not over yet. Again, this comes down to making sure you stand out among that 300 million strong crowd. What can you do, or say, that shows you’re a cut above the rest? How can you demonstrate that you’re on top of your game in a way that convinces recruiters to make that initial contact?

How about making sure your summary and experience sections shine brightly with your biggest accomplishments? That they immediately get your personality and goals across, and highlight the kind of key assets that make you a can’t-miss candidate?

Or how about creating, curating and sharing relevant content, the kind which demonstrates that not only are you on the ball with latest industry developments, but also that you’ve got a real passion about what you do.

6. A profile that helps them make decisions quickly

Yep, just like you and I, recruitment managers have limited time and an equally as limited attention span. With that in mind, it pays to get straight to the point as quickly as possible. Though we’ve just discussed adding lots of supporting content, that doesn’t mean your profile needs to read like the War and Peace of resumes.

Likewise, there’s a fine-line between leaving out key details for the sake of brevity, and making concise, impactful points with your profile. Needless to say, you definitely want to be on the latter side of that line.

Refine your summary and experience sections with clear, well-defined points, use visual tools like presentations, videos and graphics to strengthen your profile (remember, a picture speaks a thousand words), and your efforts will go a long way to finally unlocking all those secrets that recruitment managers once kept so close to their chests.

Our workshops can help you refine your profile and give you the best chance at getting your next role.