Most of the c-level and senior-level executives I work with are over 45 years old – Baby Boomers.
Most have not looked for a job in at least 5 years. Some haven’t been in a search for 10-20 years. Many have never needed a resume or other documents to get jobs over their 20+ year careers.
Now they’ve been laid off and suddenly thrust into a job search, or they’re taking a look to see what else is out there for them. They often still believe that all they have to do is update their resume, send it to a few recruiters, and sit back and wait for the offers to come in. That ain’t likely to happen these days. They need to get busy building a solid online footprint.
Many top-level executives over 45 have to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the new digital world of job search. They’re holding on for dear life to the way they used to get a job.
This may be hard to believe, but when many of my clients first come to me, they have never even heard of LinkedIn. Most of those who have heard of it have a bare bones, unimpressive profile, and are doing next to nothing with it.
But LinkedIn, other social networks, and social media in general are beckoning them. They keep hearing they should “be transparent … put yourself out there … it’s okay.”
The other day I was talking with a VP of Sales in telecommunications who told me he knows about LinkedIn but is resistant to putting together his profile because he’s afraid of losing his privacy. He doesn’t like the idea of people he doesn’t know, knowing about him.
I hear this often with top-level executives and I sympathize that taking the initial plunge into social networking can be difficult. It can feel creepy to expose yourself to the world, so to speak. How much should you reveal? Will there be negative repercussions? Will it even do you any good?
In the “old days”, when you sent recruiters and/or hiring decision makers your resume, you chose who to take into confidence with your search and career history. You knew who was reading about you. But resumes from even a few years ago weren’t particularly revealing anyway. Today’s career marketing communications, whether presented “on paper” or digitally, are certainly more personal and revealing than before.
Those of us over 45 who are used to operating in a “paper” world, can have a hard time accepting that we don’t have much choice anymore but to embrace the digital world.
The problem with resisting social networking involvement is that plenty of savvy senior-level executives competing for the kinds of jobs you want are leveraging LinkedIn – to great advantage. Just to keep pace with them, you need to be in it, too. To be found by recruiters and hiring decision makers trolling LinkedIn for top talent, you have to position yourself squarely in front of them. These people have special tools to search LinkedIn for people like you.
At the very least, you have to have a branded, searchable profile, bringing together elements of your executive resume and career biography, to capture the attention of your target audience with content that differentiates you and will resonate with them.
In fact, a mediocre LinkedIn profile could be a detriment. The lack of a clear executive brand and value proposition message will likely turn off those assessing you.
Sure, just as you may not need personal branding and a great resume and career biography to get a great job, you may not need to be involved at all in social networking to get a great job. Maybe you’ll stumble across a job in the “real world”, like you did before. But why take the chance?
Without a doubt, there are many golden opportunities that will only come to you because recruiters and hiring decision makers are landing on the right information about you online. As a top-level executive, start with a strong LinkedIn profile . . . because you have to! Then get busy leveraging all that LinkedIn has to offer.
I was hesitant myself once. Just as I have to be busy on LinkedIn making the right business-building connections, job seeking executives need to be there, finding and being found by the right people.
For many posts about leveraging the value of LinkedIn, see My Best of LinkedIn Tips and Resources.