The Five People You Need to Know on LinkedIn for Your Executive Job Search
There are five people you need to know on LinkedIn to advance your executive job search. These are the people whose insights you will find helpful when you are in the process of exploring new roles, interviewing, and evaluating job offers–but they are not who you think.
1. A Peer in another Industry
So often, we connect on LinkedIn with our colleagues in our own company or in companies similar to ours. LinkedIn loves that we are part of a peer group, and the platform judges our relevance by the company we keep. However, as you search for a new role, you should consider exploring outside your company and your industry to learn what others at your level do and believe. At a minimum, you’ll uncover the parallels between your job and your peer’s job. More likely, you will discover the gaps between what you currently do in your job function and what a day in another industry might look like for exactly the job function. This sort of analysis will help you evaluate your own skill set and perhaps help you set your job search strategy if you do not necessarily want to stay in your current industry.
2. A Superior in another Industry
If you have ever wished you had a “fairy godmother” who could advise you on something sensitive yet specifically related to your career, this is your opportunity to find that mentor or trusted advisor. Perhaps an executive in another industry will not know exactly how your particular company or division works, but this person, a trusted expert in his or her own industry, is likely to have some insight into the way things generally work. As you will make it eminently clear in your request for ten minutes of this person’s valuable time that you are not trying to take advantage of their position to get yourself a job in their company. Then, with this ethical approach in mind, you can use this ten minutes of their time to ask the questions that are important to you about your career advancement strategy and get the advice from an impartial observer.
3. A Recruiter Specializing in Your Industry
Although your LinkedIn profile might not advertise that you are seeking a new executive role, perhaps to protect the position you currently have, you might want to connect with a specialized recruiter or two before you go into job search mode fully. First, do some research to identify which recruiters regularly place candidates in your industry and in your job function. Remember, the recruiters who place candidates in your company likely will not try to place you in another company, as this is a breach of ethics. Instead, with some discreet inquiries or even a quick Google search, find the right recruiting firm and the right recruiter within that firm. Then send a brief, polite invitation via LinkedIn to connect with these one or two individuals. Remember, however, that recruiters do not work with you–they work for the companies that pay them their fees for placing executives like yourself with unique and rare skill sets, so you might want to mention in your introductory note exactly what your unique selling proposition is.
4. An Peer in a Company that Interests You
Your first thought in connecting with someone in a company that you are targeting might be the hiring executive himself/herself. Rather than initiating a relationship with a company with an implied request for a position, start by connecting with people at your level. They might have some unique insights into the way the company works, and it is likely easier to make a friend with someone at your own level than with someone who sits at a level far above yours. Down the road, this person might be willing to advocate for you with his or her own manager or the manager of another department simply on the basis of the good relationship you have built over time.
5. The “Connector” in Any Industry
It might help you to get to know with and connect with on LinkedIn a few LinkedIn LIONs, or “connectors.” These are people who seem to know everyone and have connections across industries and companies. They tend to be outgoing and willing to make introductions. It might be wise to set up a few minutes to talk to someone with these qualities, once you have made that connection on LinkedIn, to ask whether this connector knows someone who can help you (you specify the criteria) and would be willing to make an introduction, on LinkedIn, via email, or in person.
Remember, LinkedIn is only the tool. Set up the relationships on LinkedIn long before you need them for your particular executive job search. When you are ready to start looking for a new job actively, these credible connections that you have already established will be extremely helpful and valuable to you.
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