In conversations with executive job seekers, we discuss how today’s executive job search works, including targeting, personal branding, LinkedIn, online presence, and how recruiters find candidates.
Sourcing vs. Recruiting Candidates
Candidate sourcing is the recruiter’s first step.
They look in various places where they know they’ll find viable candidates.
Then they actively reach out to them (or recruit them) to fill roles their client companies have open.
iSmartRecruit describes the difference between sourcing and recruiting candidates:
Sourcing of candidates
Sourcing in recruitment is the approach of finding the top or most suitable talent for the position. We can say it is a talent acquisition where the recruiter finds, engages, builds relationships with the candidate to source them.
Recruiting of candidates
The overall process of recruitment for hiring the new talent that includes attracting candidates, job postings on various platforms, screening, managing the talent pool, scheduling the interview, and onboarding.
Where Recruiters Find Candidates
Job search advisor and former recruiter Biron Clark lists the 8 main places recruiters find candidates:
- Asking Candidates for Referrals
- Talking with an Existing Professional Network
- Job Boards
- Direct Resume Submissions
- Online Job Postings
- Social Media Other Than LinkedIn
- Career Fairs
How Executive Recruiters Use Social Recruiting
The vast majority of recruiters use social recruiting to source and assess candidates.
They scrutinize potential candidates’ social networks and social media activity to qualify or rule them out.
Initially, to find candidates, they typically search LinkedIn using relevant keywords and keyword phrases.
To qualify candidates they have identified, they will Google each one’s name and see what they find across the search results.
. . . And they will dig deep, doing advanced searches and reviewing many pages of search results.
Anything posted on social media accounts and elsewhere online that is open to the public will be visible to them, and they’ll take it all into account when deciding whether someone is a viable candidate.
How Recruiters Find Candidates on LinkedIn
In the same article as above, Biron Clark advises job seekers that, just like he did when he was recruiting, recruiters spend most of their time looking for and finding candidates on LinkedIn, over any other place.
And he cautions:
“Make sure you’ve got a completed profile with work experience, skills, and a good headshot. If you’re looking for a new position but haven’t completed your LinkedIn profile, you’re holding your job search back.”
Job search strategist and former recruiter Bernadette Pawlik explains that finding candidates:
“Begins with ‘sourcing’ which means mining into Linkedin profiles:
Your title should be factual: Level, Function/Specialty, e.g., Senior Director/Manufacturing/Heavy Machinery
You can sing the song of your motivations in your about section, but recruiters go first to Experience looking for title, responsibilities and 3 kick-ass accomplishments.
Make sure you have sought out recommendations from former bosses, peers, subordinates. At the executive level … those are the recommendations most companies seek.”
HR professional Kimberley Harrison notes:
“LinkedIn Recruiter offers subscribers search tools and project management functions that aren’t available to the regular LinkedIn user. These tools can find candidates a recruiter isn’t directly connected to and even show which candidates are more likely to respond to a recruiter’s message. LinkedIn Recruiter suggests a list of candidates for the position described and prompts the recruiter to narrow the results based on suggested categories.
Recruiters can search for specific skills and keywords and keep tabs on candidates that might be of interest. LinkedIn offers up extra information, like whether a candidate has existing connections to the organisation. It’s not just about posting jobs. It’s about hunting for the best candidates even when they’re not actively searching.”
Other Places Recruiters Find Candidates
Resume submissions to recruiters
When you source recruiters in your niche and send them your resume, it will be added to their database along with the other resumes they receive.
They run keyword searches of that database using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) when they have roles to fill for their client companies.
The resumes that contain enough of the keywords they’ve entered into the ATS will be called up and reviewed for fit.
That means you need to be sure your resume contains enough of the right keywords for the job(s) you’re seeking.
Read all about this in Executive Resume ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems): What You Need To Know
Referrals from employees at their client companies
One of the most prized sources of candidates comes from internal employees who recommend them.
James Hu, CEO at Jobscan, says:
“Referrals tend to be strong candidates because they’re reliable enough so that someone is willing to vouch for them. In order to attract more referral candidates, many companies offer a monetary incentive for their employees to recommend people from their network for open roles. Recruiters can save a lot of time hunting down candidates when they get referrals passed along to them.”
Read all about this in Networking to Referral to Hire: The Best Way to Land an Executive Job
4 Things Recruiters Look for in Candidates
According to job search social media expert Hannah Morgan, recruiters and employers look for things like:
- Information that supports a candidate’s qualifications.
- The professionalism of a candidate’s online persona.
- What other people are posting about candidates.
- A reason not to hire a candidate.
An article by Ariella Coombs on Work It Daily outlines 4 of the things in particular that executive recruiters are looking for when they search “your name”:
1. You know your stuff.
Part of your online branding strategy should be to promote your expertise and unique value to your target employers. If you claim you’re an expert in a particular field, they want to see information online that backs it up. They want social proof.
2. You’re not bad-mouthing your former employer.
First, these people assessing you will not be impressed by your complaints about your current or past jobs. Also, they’ll be worried that you may do the same thing to them, if they hire you.
3. You have a personality.
Culture fit is very important to employers. Good fit usually means they’ve hired someone who won’t jump ship too soon, or negatively impact the team dynamic, or cause other problems.
Giving a feel for your personality in your job search materials and online presence helps employers see whether you’ll be a good fit. Don’t be afraid to lean on the “personal” part of personal branding.
4. You’re not posting about inappropriate stuff.
Studies show that employers avoid candidates who make bigoted comments, or boast about illegal drug use, or other questionable activities. It’s not much of a stretch to understand that people who so easily tarnish their own personal brands could also easily tarnish the company brand and/or cause discord among employees.
What Should Your Takeaway Be?
As I stress to all executive job seekers, hiding in the shadows and avoiding social media is no longer an option.
A solid executive job search strategy must include social networking, along with real-life networking. You need to be visible wherever your target employers (and their recruitment firms) are looking for candidates like you.
Their recruiters and hiring managers rely on social media to find candidates like you.
You need to be there, building your online presence and participating proactively, carefully and meaningfully.