LinkedIn Profile Optimization: Proven Ways to Double Your Success was originally published on Ivy Exec.
The Only Platform Made Exclusively to Boost Your Executive Job Search
Quick: which of Microsoft’s acquisitions posted $10 billion in revenues in 2021? If you answered LinkedIn, pat yourself on the back. The platform is a job seeker’s dream — 6 LinkedIn users get hired every minute of the day. With the phrase “LinkedIn for job seekers” returning more than 60 million Google results, prioritizing LinkedIn profile optimization for executive job searches is more critical than ever.
Even royals aren’t immune to the power of LinkedIn. Sheikh Mohammed, prime minister of the UAE, has almost 8 billion followers on Twitter and 15 billion across the most popular platforms. His Highness tweets frequently and is active on LinkedIn, using the platform to connect with citizens and announce UAE development initiatives and humanitarian projects.
LinkedIn offers exceptional value for executive job searches. Not only is it the world’s largest professional network, but it’s also frequented by top influencers, industry leaders, celebrities, and as we have seen, royals.
In 2017, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge posted a LinkedIn job ad for a senior communications officer. The ad earned the No.1 spot for the top 10 most-viewed LinkedIn UK job ads that year. And, in 2020, Queen Elizabeth posted LinkedIn ads for a personal assistant and Buckingham Palace interior planner. British royals regularly hire through LinkedIn.
Not convinced you need to increase your presence on the platform? These statistics show why LinkedIn is your ticket to C-suite success:
- 87 out of 100 top-performing CEOs on LinkedIn are insiders. This highlights the importance of networking in the executive search process.
- 87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates during the hiring process (2016 Jobvite Recruiter Nation report)
- 67% of recruiters say that LinkedIn hires are of higher quality
- The most socially engaged executives are 75% more successful in their C-suite positions.
Harnessing the Power of Connections — Without Sacrificing Your Integrity
In 2013, researchers from the University of Arizona analyzed ceramic and obsidian artifacts dating from A.D. 1200-1450.
They found distinct types of pottery in an area spanning more than 155 miles. The researchers concluded that trade flourished across large geographic expanses, despite the lack of motorized transportation.
By hook or by crook, people have been networking since antiquity. Today, virtual networking sites like LinkedIn offer unmatched opportunities. If you’re seeking C-suite opportunities, building a diverse network will boost your job search efforts.
To find out whom executive job seekers should connect to, I recently caught up with Tony Wenzel, an energetic PAAS/SAAS executive and former CRO of AgilePoint (a leading global digital transformation platform). He didn’t hold back:
“It depends on what the job seeker is looking for. It’s important to ask who has social currency in your target industry. Look at what people are posting on their LinkedIn profiles, what charities they support, and what interests them. Do the same things interest you? Can you make a connection that way? If I’m into high-performance computing, what are some groups I can join? Next, I’d want to find a way to add value to anyone I connect to. That’s important.”
I also asked Tony what he looks for in a LinkedIn profile when it comes to sourcing candidates or recommending candidates for a position. A dynamic risk-taker who thrives on challenges, Tony didn’t blink an eye before replying:
“I’m a Linkedin power user: I drill deep down when it comes to profiles. I look at connections, what interests them, and what schools they attend. I check out what licenses or degrees they have. From the data, I gain actionable insights I can use. People hire people they like. Do your homework when you speak to recruiters or target employers. There’s nothing worse than being unprepared for an interview.
When I started as CRO at AgilePoint, I did research and connected to hundreds of people with digital transformation in their titles. I wanted to understand how people think about Agile. Did they think about it from a development perspective or holistically? Your profile needs to provide strategic information on how you approach key industry matters.
The connections I made helped me understand the continuum of different digital transformation efforts. Why? I’m selling a digital transformation solution to others. My LinkedIn connections helped me understand the importance of culture change in enabling digital transformation. Similarly, when I needed people on my team, I searched on LinkedIn. I looked at what they posted and how they demonstrated expertise or thought leadership.”
Tony emphasized the importance of adding value to our connections. The bottom line: We add value when we understand — and value — what our connections hold dear.
The #1 Secret to LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Executive Job Searches
Executives have come a long way since the days of The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. In the 1956 movie, Gregory Peck plays Tom Rath, a harried white-collar worker who works for Ralph Hopkins, the president of the UBC (United Broadcasting Company) network. Hopkins is a successful executive whose leadership has elevated UBC to national prominence. However, his workaholic tendencies threaten to derail his marriage.
The workaholic CEO trope continues in the hit Netflix series Mad Men. Jon Hamm plays Don Draper, a womanizing, chain-smoking executive in the dog-eat-dog world of 1960s New York advertising. A serial philanderer, Draper achieves much in the workplace but enjoys little contentment in his personal life.
Today’s executives, however, are a far different breed altogether. In 2016, Xinfu and Hootsuite compiled a list of the top 100 CEOs on social media. The only female CEO in the group, Arianna Huffington, earned her #3 spot by positioning herself as a champion of work-life balance.
Huffington is the founder of Thrive and the author of Your Time to Thrive: End Burnout, Increase Well-being, and Unlock Your Full Potential with the New Science of Microsteps. Her mission? To end the prevalent belief that burnout is intrinsic to success.
Meanwhile, JR Ridinger, the founder and CEO of Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM supports a “people first” workplace culture. He laments that “many companies get far too caught up in the bottom line and lose sight of the fact that data or technology doesn’t make a company special – people do.” Leading with heart pays: a LinkedIn/Glint employee wellbeing report found that employees who feel cared for are 3.2 times more likely to be happy at work.
If you’re job seeking or looking for C-suite opportunities, learning how to position yourself as a thought leader on LinkedIn and mastering the art of conversational thought leadership is critical to success.
You Can Laugh at Your Job Search Woes — if You Follow This Simple Plan for Being Active on LinkedIn
Executives have come a long way since the days of Tom Rath and Don Draper. Today’s C-suite officers see innovation not just as a vehicle for growth but also as an asset in times of crisis. And they enthusiastically share their thoughts about it on LinkedIn.
In the spring of 2020, Arvind Krishna sent a thought-provoking letter to employees on his first day as the new CEO of IBM. He shared the contents of his letter on LinkedIn.
In the letter, Krishna acknowledged the challenges a worldwide pandemic presented. However, he touted IBM’s new hybrid cloud platform as a game-changer. His letter reassured employees that IBM had their backs as they hunkered down to weather the storm and meet consumer expectations.
Have you demonstrated similar thought leadership in your industry? If so, you owe it to yourself (and others) to share it. Being active on LinkedIn can get you noticed and is critical for executive job searches:
- Posting once a day helps you reach 60% of your followers.
- Job seekers who update weekly are 10X more likely to be contacted by recruiters
That said, try this three-step plan to boost your LinkedIn presence:
- Start by connecting to 10 C-suite officers or stakeholders in your target industry
- Add value by offering yourself as an information resource
- Include your photo with your daily updates. Stephanie Stuckey, the CEO of Stuckey’s Corporation, gets an average 2,275 engagements per post when she includes photos of herself.
Ignore These 6 Must-Haves on Your LinkedIn Profile at Your Peril
If you’re looking to boost your presence on LinkedIn, be sure to set your privacy settings to allow anyone to view your profile.
While you’re at it, click the “Open to” button under your profile picture and fill out up to five job titles, your preferences for job locations and start dates, and whom you’re open to (recruiters or all LinkedIn members).
Try to avoid the green “Open to Work” feature you see on profile pics. It gives the appearance of desperation — not a good look for executive LinkedIn resumes. Even if you’re looking, do everything possible to maintain an image of energy and confidence.
Next, make sure you feature these on your LinkedIn profile:
- A professional headshot. Have you heard the saying, “One Monet is worth 1000 Shakespeares?” A polished headshot can telegraph confidence, authenticity, and competence. It can also make you 14 times more likely to be found on LinkedIn. If you’re looking for C-suite opportunities, hire a photographer who specializes in executive portraits, dress the part, smile, make eye contact with the camera, and follow the LinkedIn photo guidelines. You’ll also want to make sure you get the profile photo size right.
- The SEO-friendly headline and About Us sections. On your profile, click the pencil icon to the right of your photo to craft a compelling headline. You’ll want to keep to 120 characters. Use the rail construct (located above the slash key on your keyboard) to highlight your expertise and improve ease of reading.
If you’re coming up empty, take a look at the best CEO headlines on LinkedIn for inspiration. The best headlines, About Us, and summary sections telegraph value. If you’re looking for C-suite opportunities at non-profits, for example, mention raising $150+ million for a charity (put that right in your headline). You can also highlight awards you earned or seminars you keynoted.
In your About Us section, refrain from gushing about the things you love to do. To truly resonate with recruiters and organizations, you’ll want to talk about their pain points and position yourself as someone who drives results for them. For some inspiration, take a look at these exemplary About Us sections on LinkedIn.
- Endorsements and recommendations. If you’d like to make a great first impression, learn how to ask for LinkedIn recommendations to lend credibility to your profile. While you’re at it, learn how to get 99+ LinkedIn endorsements — without breaking a sweat.
- Online content and articles. Build a powerful brand by getting published in reputable publications — and provide links to them on your profile.
- Continuing education, leadership skills, and career accomplishments. Be sure to highlight any degrees or important accomplishments. For example, mentioning the completion of an executive EMBA can speak volumes about your commitment to leadership skills that deliver value. Love the idea of an EMBA but don’t have time to attend classes in person? See if an online MBA is right for you.
- Social initiatives. In a world where executives recognize the importance of social responsibility, highlighting your commitment to it can humanize your brand.
What to Post — and the Easiest Way to Get Noticed
Still stumped? Check out these 43 LinkedIn post ideas to get your creative juices flowing. You can also add dynamic images or ads in the Featured section to capture the attention of executive recruiters. If you’re short on time, the easiest (and most organic) way to get noticed is by commenting on posts. This highlights your expertise, personality, and interests, which may net you new opportunities with similarly aligned parties.
Whatever you do, be sure to post at the right times. According to Hubspot, the best time to publish your content is from Tuesday to Thursday, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re writing B2B content, try to publish outside of the 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM slot.
I Love My Job: Do I Really Have to Be On LinkedIn?
Not looking for a job or new career? If so, being active on LinkedIn can still pay off. By posting regular updates and providing value, you’ll catch the attention of recruiters when you’re ready for a career transition.
You’ll also increase your credibility. According to a Hootsuite report, companies with leaders who actively engage on social media are perceived 23% more positively than companies with inactive leaders. In addition, when you use storytelling to highlight your values, you humanize your brand and increase trust in your leadership.
If you’re targeting digital-intensive industries in your job search, learn how to leverage the new LinkedIn Stories feature to share your journey.
Get the Results You Want With LinkedIn Groups
The modern job search landscape isn’t what it used to be.
A great way to increase your online presence and land yourself a job on LinkedIn is by joining LinkedIn Groups. Recruiters often browse industry groups to source talent. To highlight your brand, check out these top 50 Linkedin groups for innovators, creative thinkers, and leaders.
Being a part of a LinkedIn group allows you to broaden your market reach. In his book The Proactive Executive: A C-Suite Recruiter’s 5-Step System for Achieving Greater Career Success, Chris Naderny stresses the importance of being proactive in managing executive careers. He shares the story of Mike, an executive who began his career in marketing with a respected consumer goods company before returning to school for his MBA.
After graduation, Mike spent four years at a top consulting firm before returning as marketing director at the same consumer goods company. Over the next 10 years, he added valuable experience and dimension to his profile by continually tackling new challenges. For example, he served as a brand marketing director at a major tech company and co-founded an e-commerce company.
He then tackled several C-suite roles in firms of various sizes and a variety of industries, accumulating valuable experience in the rapidly growing digital space. With each new move, Mike further differentiated himself in the marketplace, making him an attractive candidate for fantastic opportunities in the long term.
Want similar results? Joining a LinkedIn Group and contributing to discussions can be your ticket to high-growth opportunities as you map out the trajectory of your career. If you’re wondering which group to join, try these 11 groups recruiters frequent or create your own LinkedIn Group.
According to Hubspot, LinkedIn is 277% more effective at generating leads than Facebook or Twitter. Although insiders often have the advantage, you can still win by posting leading-edge content on LinkedIn Groups and portraying yourself as an outsider who can spark transformative change.
Top 4 LinkedIn Features to Help Advance Your Job Search (Without Your Employer Knowing)
- Open Candidates lets recruiters know you’re open to opportunities (without notifying your employer). Note, however, that LinkedIn can’t identify every recruiter connected to your current employer. So, you’ll want to be prepared for every eventuality.
- LinkedIn Learning courses to boost your interview skills
- Skill assessments to validate your expertise
- Salary insights to help you make informed career decisions and discover your earning potential. Be sure to learn how to submit your salary data.
How You Can Achieve Success Using Two Tools Other Executives Overlook
The first tool to supercharge your advancement is LinkedIn Premium.
Two of the most important Premium benefits are InMail and profile views. According to Neal Schaffer, a fractional CMO and the founder of a digital marketing consultancy, you can’t ignore InMail if you’re serious about your executive job search. To that end, learning how to write an effective LinkedIn InMail is critical to success. You’ll want to keep your InMails short. InMails between 200-400 characters have a 16% higher response rate.
By now, you understand the importance of LinkedIn profile optimization for executive job searches.
But, does the prospect of updating your LinkedIn profile leave you cold?
If so, your second most powerful tool would be an Ivy Exec career consultation and LinkedIn profile review. Don’t wait — learn how to unlock the power of LinkedIn to leapfrog over your competitors on the C-suite track today.