It’s surprising how many active candidates think they just have to sign up to a headhunter to secure that career-defining new position. Now while I’d certainly encourage ambitious executives to do just that, it’s not as simple as Googling “Headhunters, London/Paris/Munich/New York” and then clicking on the first one that comes up…
If you’re at a senior level already, the chances are you’ll have been ‘found’ a long time ago by some of the key headhunters in your line, but if you’re ‘on the way up’ then it’s worth taking stock and asking around. There are some very good recruitment consultancies out there, but there are key individuals who are the real stars in specialist employment markets so endeavour, if you can, to hang on to their coat-tails. Crucially, make sure that whoever you sign up with really will do what they promise and remember that no-one represents your interests better than you do yourself.
Which brings me to my next point…namely that you can do a lot yourself to get on the radar of recruiters. Bear in mind that there are a lot more in-house recruitment teams nowadays and they too scour the online world, seeking that all-too-hard to find talent. Not only that, but both in-house recruiters and third-party recruitment consultancies attend lots of courses to learn how to use every possible avenue to find the ideal candidates upon whom their jobs depend.
This means you need to make sure you can be found. Now if you don’t embrace social media that means you’re less likely to be discovered, but even those who say “I will never be on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc.” are invariably on Linkedin, the business social network par excellence. Linkedin is, of course, the number one port of call for every recruiter in the country/world, so make sure you’re not just on there but that your profile is properly assembled to increase your chances of being found. That means ensuring that foremost in your profile you have the correct keywords that relate to your job/skills, but most of all some contact details (it’s surprising how often these are omitted!).
Even if you do use Facebook for ‘non-work’ purposes, don’t think that you won’t be visible/found there by recruiters. The same applies to such overtly ‘social and personal’ platforms as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the like. Almost all recruiters know how these ‘personal’ social media can be searched in fine detail. Any indication that you work for X company or are a CEO, Director, etc. can make you a marked man or woman. And once you’re found, the recruiter will get in touch. That’s what they are paid for after all. And that’s what you want if you’re seeking the big career move.
However, we all know of stories of inappropriate Facebook posts consigning a potential candidate to suffer from premature rejection. So do keep that in mind: you can’t separate your ‘social and personal’ media from your ‘professional’ (i.e. Linkedin) world.
What this all means is that the savvy executive should play to his/her strengths on all social media. Care needs to be exercised: either remove anything on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc. that ties you to the world of work but even better, make sure that you present an image on your personal social media that reflects you at work and play –if you like, consider your online/social profile as your ‘personal brand’ and work to develop it accordingly.
Finally, if you are seeking to step up to your next big role, do keep an eye on the media. There are lots of very good, senior jobs advertised across a whole host of different job-boards (and in print media) and if you are actively scanning these then you pick up some potential opportunities to which you can make an application. You should also consider adding your CV to the databases on some of the major job-boards, because these, like Linkedin, are trawled daily by recruiters seeking someone with just your unique mixture of talent and personality. We, naturally, will point to the jobs and CV database on exec-appointments.com, but we know there are other media that you will want to investigate. Either way, remember, as noted above, that no-one represents your interests better than you do yourself. It’s that ‘can-do’ spirit that’s taken you this far – now it’s time for it to take you to the next stage of your executive career!
Steve Playford, Global Director, FT Career Management