Using LinkedIn For Confidential Executive Job Search

by Meg Guiseppi on February 13, 2012

Undercover Executive Job Search

Do you have the same fear that many of my c-level executive clients have when I tell them they need a branded, 100% complete LinkedIn profile and to fully leverage all the social network has to offer?

If they’re employed, they worry that their employer, or someone at work, will see their activity and know they’re looking for a new job.

Some have a minimal profile they posted years ago and promptly forgot about. They never completed their profiles or used LinkedIn at all.

What they fail to grasp is that a bare-bones profile, with no keyword-rich Professional Headline, or Summary section, and little or nothing in the Experience section, leaves people viewing their profiles with no meaningful information to help them assess them.

No LinkedIn presence at all is as good as being invisible to the very people they need to be positioned directly in front of.

They need a fully fleshed out profile for passive job search — to be found by executive recruiters and the hiring decision makers at their target companies. As an undercover job seeker, they may not be able to be as proactive as those who are not employed.

LinkedIn has a kind of safeguard for undercover job seekers. You can temporarily turn off automatic updates to your LinkedIn network whenever you make changes or updates to your profile (along with other activities), so at least no one will be formally alerted.

  • Go to “Settings” in the drop-down menu at the top right of your profile.
  • Click on “Profile” and select “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts”.
  • Make sure the box there — “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies” — is UNCHECKED.
  • Go back in and check the box if you no longer need to hide your activity.

Obviously, anyone who is keeping track of you and other employees by checking their profiles will notice that you suddenly have a full profile or new information. Expect that people may ask you what you’re up to.

My recommendation to clients is to have a ready answer for why you’re busy on Linkedin.

The trick to crafting an answer is to frame your answer around how your LinkedIn activities will benefit your current employer, because that is indeed the case.

For instance, if you’re a CMO, you’d be wise to be working hard on connecting through LinkedIn with your vendors, agency partners, co-workers, other CMOs at other companies, and even competitors. They’re probably hanging out on LI, so you should, too.

You can say that you’re using LinkedIn to source new leads and help market the company. When existing customers or potential customers view your company’s LinkedIn profile, they’ll most likely also view the profiles of the top executives, like you. The new information about the company you just added on your LinkedIn profile will give a good impression of it and encourage people to do business with you and your company.

You can say that you’re busy on LinkedIn because you want to find and be found by top talent for your team.

Any number of viable reasons could suffice. Just keep your answer focused on how your LinkedIn activity will be good for the company.

Two things to consider:

1. You should obviously avoid posting updates about what kind of position you’re seeking, or noting anywhere on your profile that you’re “looking”. Instead, when you uncover a job lead, express your potential value to target companies and your interest through one-on-one InMails or directly through emails.

2. Just like every other executive job seeker, you should be getting involved with LinkedIn Groups and Answers. If you’re in an undercover search, be very careful what you post in discussions there.

Obviously, don’t let on that you’re job hunting or testing the waters. Instead, use Groups and Answers to demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership, and to stay top of mind with your target employers.

Related posts:

LinkedIn Guide for Executive Branding and Job Search

Does Your Online Identity Scream “Hire Me”?

The Lazy C-level Executive Job Search

photo by Dave-F

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

stephen q shannon February 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

Meg, Again “on target” in my bigoted, biased view. The other challenge I have is to unearth the “hot button” of my boutique’s highly educated professional men and women to cause (not to motivate) them to take a robust approach (embrace) with LinkedIn as a major league career tool. Not enough pain, is my knee-jerk theory.
I am this minute sharing your post with all who really, really need to know. Thank you!

stephen q shannon February 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

Meg, Again “on target” in my bigoted, biased view. The other challenge I have is to unearth the “hot button” of my boutique’s highly educated professional men and women to cause (not to motivate) them to take a robust approach (embrace) with LinkedIn as a major league career tool. Not enough pain, is my knee-jerk theory.
I am this minute sharing your post with all who really, really need to know. Thank you!

Meg Guiseppi February 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Hi Steve,

I agree that most people don’t fully utilize LinkedIn. I think they have no idea of all that the site has to offer.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Best,
Meg

Meg Guiseppi February 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Hi Steve,

I agree that most people don’t fully utilize LinkedIn. I think they have no idea of all that the site has to offer.

Thanks for visiting and commenting.

Best,
Meg

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