When it comes to landing your next executive role, your digital presence can be just as important as your resume and how well you interview.
Information about you that’s online and in the public domain can greatly affect your job prospects and whether or not you’ll land that executive role you’ve been aspiring to.
Here, Executive Interview Coaching founder Richard Elstone shares his tips for managing your digital footprint and optimising your online profiles.
Tip #1: Google yourself
As a starting point, the first thing you should do is Google your name and see what comes up. Why? Because headhunters will likely research your online history as part of their due diligence during an executive search process.
“It’s amazing the sort of things you find,” Richard said.
“Doing a Google search allows headhunters to unearth and confront any issues they might have with a candidate before chatting about those issues with a client to see if they wish to continue with the hiring process.”
If there is something online that could jeopardise your employability, try to have the article taken down if possible. If that’s not an option, it’s usually best to address the matter sooner rather than later with prospective employers.
Tip #2: Check your privacy settings
As part of an executive search, headhunters will often check candidates’ social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) accounts for background information.
The last thing you want is for them to discover a post that’s embarrassing or worse – sexist, racist or illegal.
Also, be aware that some platforms such as Facebook regularly change their settings, so it’s a good idea to check your accounts frequently.
Lastly, unlike LinkedIn requests, on these platforms only accept friend requests from people you know.
“It never fails to surprise me that a lot of people’s Instagram and Facebook accounts aren’t locked down,” Richard said. “You see pictures of people in situations, that as executives, you may not expect to see them in. My advice is to ensure your profiles are locked down so that only friends can see your posts, not friends of friends.”
Lastly, be conscious of the types of contact information included on your social media accounts. “People should not be able to find your LinkedIn profile using your mobile number, for example,” Richard said.
Tip #3: Get your LinkedIn profile right
Professionally speaking, LinkedIn is the most important social platform.
“All headhunters use LinkedIn as a tool to help them find candidates outside of their own networks, so it’s really important your profile is optimal,” said Richard.
“It’s the first impression that most organisations might have of an executive, so it’s important to include as much detail as you can, without giving away any confidential information.”
Tips for your LinkedIn About section
This is where you can provide an overview of your professional life, who you are and what drives you (maximum length: 2000 characters).
Use storytelling to pitch yourself in an engaging way (you can find tips from Richard about the art of storytelling here).
Include: 1) A high-level overview of who you are as an executive; 2) A high-level overview of what you are doing now, and 3) If you’re looking for a new role, what it is you are looking for.
Tips for your LinkedIn Experience section
Be clear and concise. 1-2 paragraphs per role should suffice.
Under each role, clearly articulate the title, your reporting lines and key challenges faced, as well as the size of your team.
Use facts and figures to build credibility, plus strong action words such as “led, grew, saved, etc.”
Leave your achievements for your resume.
Use the first person, but remove the “I” and “me” where possible.
Ensure you link your roles to the correct company ID, as their logo will appear on your profile. This is extremely important, as it can affect whether you come up in headhunters’ executive search process.
Tips for other LinkedIn sections:
Adding your skills to your profile can be useful for executive search and improve your chances of being discovered for opportunities, according to Richard.
While you can add up to 50 skills, Richard recommends only including broad skills and not being too granular.
Your skills can then be validated by your connections (called endorsements).
You may consider asking your connections to write you a recommendation. Keep in mind though that recommendations are less important to executive search consultants nowadays, Richard said.
General tips for LinkedIn:
Build your LinkedIn connections by adding a LinkedIn badge/button to your email signature.
Check your settings to see whether you are sharing profile changes with your network. You may want to turn this notification off.
Regularly review your LinkedIn profile, including your headshot, to ensure it’s up to date.
Let executive recruiters know you’re available by selecting the ‘Open to’ button under your profile photo. Richard suggested avoiding the #opentowork photo frame fad.
Never decline an InMail from a headhunter, as this interferes with LinkedIn’s AI and you’ll be less likely to come up in a search. Always accept it, then write back turning the position down if need be.
Tip #4: Use a professional headshot
Whilst resumes shouldn’t have a photo generally, your LinkedIn profile needs to have a professional headshot.
This means no kids. No spouses. No sunglasses.
Richard suggests men wear a business shirt and jacket. “Ties have gone out with the ark,” he said. “In 98% of interviews, men don’t need to wear a tie, so don’t put one on your LinkedIn profile photo.”
For women, Richard said a smart shirt or blouse up to the neck with a complimentary jacket looks great. “Jackets always mean business.”
Your LinkedIn background photo should also be professional and reinforce what’s in your profile. “If there’s one your current company uses, use that,” said Richard. “Carefully pick your image – it needs to be business focused.”
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Executive Interview Coaching offers a range of services to help you land your next executive role, including advice about your digital footprint and profiles.
Get in touch today to find out more!