Cautiously readying your LinkedIn Profile for an executive job search?

You’ll need to consider LinkedIn strategies that differ substantially from those used by mid-career professionals.

For example, many executives choose to limit the information they distribute on LinkedIn, due to company confidentiality or other reasons. Executives are also approached more often than other users on LinkedIn, either as a potential employer or by a recruiter piqued by their qualifications.

This activity can call for a more toned-down presence on the site – while still conveying a strong leadership message.

Consider implementing these changes to cultivate a powerful, yet discreet LinkedIn presence supporting your strategically planned executive job search:

1 – Provide (More) Details on Your Executive Career Progression.

Most executives don’t start out at the level of CEO or COO; rather, they’ve held progressively challenging positions – and this story is important to your brand message.

You’ll get better traction for many leadership roles by showing at least part of your career trajectory vs. just your executive positions. While many professionals show 10-15 years of experience, it’s not unusual for an executive to provide a deeper look into his or her background.

In your Profile’s Experience section, you can add positions that show how you came to be qualified for an executive role. If you’re concerned about showing dates too far back in your history, consider grouping job titles (such as Operations Director; Plant Manager; Production Planner) in a single job entry that specifies dates only for the latest entry.

2 – Enable Confidential Surfing.

When you look at others’ Profiles, LinkedIn announces this activity to other users through the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” display.

As an executive, you may need to monitor your team’s staff activity on LinkedIn, vet recruiters, or look at the Profiles of competing leaders in your industry without disclosing your identity. Therefore, you’ll want to consider disabling these visitor statistics on the receiving end. To do so:

  • When signed into LinkedIn, click on Me at the top right of your screen, then select Settings & Privacy
  • Click on the Privacy tab at the center of the next screen
  • Choose Profile viewing options and then select Private mode

You will now be able to visit (and revisit) the Profiles of recruiters, hiring authorities, CEOs, etc. as often as needed, with no fear of being “found out.”

LinkedIn does, however, require you to upgrade your account if you wish to remain anonymous but still be able to see who viewed your own Profile. (This can be a worthwhile investment if you’re analyzing your traffic and keyword statistics, as you’ll receive more robust analytics with a Premium account.)

3 – Position Yourself on LinkedIn at The Executive Level.

While your Headline should always be altered to reflect your career level, you can also add Profile data to increase employers’ understanding of your goals (and help them find you). To do so, insert prospective job titles in different sections, depending on the degree of confidentiality desired.

For example, this sentence in a LinkedIn Summary provides job titles as goals, setting the stage for a more “open” executive search: “As a CFO and Director FP&A, I work directly with leadership on fiscal strategy to support our growth objectives.”

You can also add a more direct note to the end of your Summary (where many users will not see unless they click See more), such as “I’m on the lookout for CTO or VP of Engineering opportunities leveraging my background in product strategy, release management, and engineering team leadership.”

For a less-obvious job search, job titles can be added in the Skills & Endorsements section, alongside your leadership competencies. Lesser-endorsed Skills will automatically drop to the bottom, where they’re not displayed at first glance (and therefore not obvious to other users), but still count in your Profile SEO.

4 – Control LinkedIn Notification Broadcasts.

All information you add to LinkedIn is public. However, you’ll want to use a carefully planned strategy for how your newly redone Profile will be discovered by your current employer, Board members, staff, or executive peers.

Privacy controls can be adjusted so that others are not informed of your Profile changes (meaning your staff or the executive team will not be notified of your updates). To manage these options:

  • When signed into LinkedIn, click on Me at the top right of your screen, then select Settings & Privacy
  • Click on the Privacy tab at the center of the next screen
  • Choose Sharing Profile Edits and then select No

This change will prevent Profile change alerts from being issued to your connections and popping up on your list of recent activity.

However, you’ll want to ensure your activity feed (another Privacy option) stays ON if you plan to regularly post articles or feedback on areas of interest to industry contacts:

  • Under Privacy, select Notifying connections when you’re in the news
  • Change this setting to Yes

5 – Become More Open in Your LinkedIn Networking.

Some executives join LinkedIn and then start reviewing each connection request with suspicion – rarely accepting invitations or neglecting their Profiles. While it makes sense to carefully ascertain other users’ purpose in reaching out to you, a too-cautious approach will defeat your purpose for using the site in the first place!

If you’re not active on LinkedIn, you could miss out on the massive volume of recruiting that takes place on the site! Populating relevant sections of your LinkedIn Profile – your Headline, Summary, Experience, and Education, at a minimum – will show your grasp of social media engagement.

While there’s no “magic number” of connections to cultivate in LinkedIn, Profiles of less than 100+ contacts imply an unawareness of online networking. As you reach 1,000 connections, however, you’ll gain closer access to recruiters or other key people in your industry. Therefore, you’ll benefit from steadily building your LinkedIn network contact-by-contact, giving invitations a quick glance to filter those of questionable intent.

Of course, offline professional relationships and networking will also play a key role in your success, and merit significant time in your job search plan.

These strategies will help accelerate your presence on LinkedIn from both a social media and SEO standpoint – gaining serious traction for your executive job search, while maintaining some degree of confidentiality.

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