Executive Job Search Strategy: Growing Importance of Social Media
A greater focus on using technology during executive job searches means the importance of social media cannot be overlooked. Most executives have an online presence of some sort. This is usually reflected through social media, corporate profiles and networking sites such as LinkedIn. Some social media platforms are more important than others for executive job searches. LinkedIn and Twitter are the obvious main one’s for networking and developing an online presence. Whilst most people have a Facebook presence, this is less important for finding executive jobs or industry networking.
Executive Job Search and LinkedIn
With more than 500 million subscribers worldwide, LinkedIn is arguably the most important executive job search and networking tool. There is an expectation for executives to be found on LinkedIn. Building networks, completing the profile and developing a value proposition is very important to give added weighting or presence in the targeted search results. LinkedIn is important for increasing potential for headhunter engagement. Other benefits stems from being found on popular search engines, becoming a key influencer through regular posts and finding jobs via the LinkedIn Job Board.
LinkedIn also gives executives an opportunity to join groups, follow key employers (main target companies) and engage in a wider global business or thought leader community. Having a significant number of contacts or linked to several key influencers (high-level contacts) can give LinkedIn profiles added presence or weighting, so likely to increase levels of engagement or being contacted about potential job opportunities. LinkedIn becomes even more important as directors and executives progress into board-level positions. Therefore, developing an online brand or value proposition delivers consistency, favourable positioning and engagement with target C-level audiences. Equally, some executives are in such high-level positions they may wish to dilute their LinkedIn presence for commercial-sensitivity reasons or simply keeping personal information private.
Twitter and Executive Jobs
Though LinkedIn is a far more powerful networking tool, Twitter still has an important role to play in executive job hunting or becoming a key influencer. Whether following another person, thought leader, key influencer or company, all kinds of information snippets, job postings and useful advice can be posted on Twitter. Most companies have an active Twitter presence. This is extremely important for engaging followers on a regular basis. There are so many Twitter accounts out there so it is important to be selective by following special interest topics, the right people, key influencers or company Twitter feeds.
Facebook and Other Social Media
Facebook is more mainstream and has no obvious purpose as an executive job hunting tool. Joining groups, regular updates, posting information, receiving blog feeds or following a company page may add some value. This is especially if following a particular company, website or person. Less weighting is placed on Facebook than say LinkedIn or Twitter for executive job hunting as it tends to be more for personal or company branding use. Pinterest, Instagram or other social media platforms are not so important for executive job searches.
Establishing an Online Presence
Most executives have some form of online presence. Many executives establish only a partial online presence. Focusing on LinkedIn and Twitter are arguably the most important. If setting up a profile, it is always best to complete the profile 100%. For instance, completing the profile in LinkedIn gives an extra 40% boost in the targeted search results.
It is also an opportunity to set the agenda by defining a clear proposition. A clearly defined value proposition helps establish a viable online presence or personal brand. Use a clear headline with keywords aligned to current and target roles. This helps positioning towards target job roles and makes people more searchable. Presentation is important as otherwise no one will want to engage or follow your personal brand on social media. With engagement, this can mean headhunter contact via LinkedIn, joining employer networks, connecting with key influencers (building contacts) or adding followers to LinkedIn or Twitter feeds.
Social Media and Building on Online Personal Brand
It is all very well simply completing a LinkedIn or Twitter profile. However, when taking this to the next level it is important to think about your audience, core message and value proposition. It is all about presentation, making an impression and having relevant content to engage your target audience. When establishing an online personal brand, it is important to set the agenda with a clearly defined value proposition by getting across core skills, areas of expertise, experience summary, career track record and how you can benefit a client, future employer or key contact. The idea is to stand out and kind of tell your story in a clear and concise way by saying enough but without saying too much.
LinkedIn is certainly the most important platform all round for showcasing capabilities and reaching out to likeminded executives. Being found and appearing in the search results is massively important, so building a network is crucial for getting on the radar of other executives, industry contacts and employers. Be careful about what information to include as most profiles are public, remove any commercially-sensitive information and avoid including too many publically-available personal details where possible for security reasons.
Key Influencer and Thought Leadership
Social media through LinkedIn and Twitter can help propel executives into thought leadership or key influencer arenas by demonstrating specific industry knowledge or expertise. Building a significant network or having a large number of followers often allows executives to become key influencers within their chosen domain through regular updates, information and posts. Social media outreach can build a very significant following in a short space of time; providing the audience is engaged.
Managing this can be difficult so always having something to say and regular posting is important to maintain thought leadership and engagement. Becoming a thought leader or key influencer can greatly increase opportunities for headhunter engagement and being offered top-level positions, thereby making it easier to network and find jobs the higher people become within any given profession or domain.
Building Social Media Reputation
Social media reputation is hard won and easily lost. So having a clear purpose, consistency and positioning is important. Being slightly outspoken or controversial can be a good thing to gain followers and social media presence. However, when looking for executive jobs, potential employers actively search candidates on the main social media platforms. Careerbuilder recently conducted a survey suggesting 70% of employers actively check candidates online for social media reputation when hiring people.
It is especially used as a means of validating and short-listing candidates, notably for higher profile roles. People have not been hired purely based on comments made previously, particularly if sexist, offensive or prejudicial remarks have been made. This shows how important it is to get your social media presence right and use it to your advantage. There have been some obvious examples where executives have offended or made not so politically correct comments.
Make sure any controversial tweets, ‘worse for wear’ pictures or silly things likely to undermine your social media profile are deleted or kept well hidden. Spending time cleansing social media profiles can be a worthwhile investment. People say silly things or act funny on photos, so make sure any tags, comments or photos likely to cause concern are kept separate from business profiles. There are some useful tools out there for checking social media reputation. Take action where necessary. There is no need to delete everything, just make sure it does not negatively impact your online personal brand.
Conclusion: Growing Importance of Social Media in Executive Job Search
Whilst social media can be a useful tool for executive job searches, some platforms are more important than others. Prioritise LinkedIn over other social media profiles. Twitter is next important, whilst others may be relevant depending on the audience you are looking to engage. It really depends on what executives are trying to achieve as to which social media tools are relevant.
For instance, is social media being using for networking purposes (building industry contacts) or engaging with headhunters (usually via LinkedIn). Also establishing an online presence (developing an online personal brand) or looking to become a key influencer / thought leader by posting regularly on key topics, emerging trends or specific issues.
Whatever you decide, social media is a great opportunity to network and reach out to likeminded executives. Have a clear value proposition and remove any unwanted photos, posts, tags and comments by cleansing social media accounts. Be careful about personal information (keep this hidden). Be relevant. Be Consistent. Be Proactive. Be visible. Last of all build a solid reputation even if you have to be slightly controversial without prejudicing or offending anyone.