Contrary to popular belief, there is no cohort of monks guarding the secret scroll of candidates on short lists in job searches. In this digital age, however, it can be both harder and easier to get noticed in the search process. Let me suggest a few ways to increase your visibility.
Use online social networks like LinkedIn wisely. Your LinkedIn profile should be complete, consistent with your résumé, and include a robust summary section. Many people don’t realize the full power of the summary in keyword searching. You have 2,500 words in which to describe your areas of expertise, your career path, and your desired next steps. Use this space as a billboard to promote your career experiences, successes, and aspirations. Also, pay close attention to the categories you establish in your LinkedIn profile. They may be used as search criteria, along with the summary and specialty sections.
Cultivate connections online, and keep your network current. One way to get to know new people and expand your network is to join some of the many special-interest groups on LinkedIn. Some are open, others require approval to join, but did you know you can join as many as 50? I’m not suggesting you join every group, of course, but participating in some that interest you and posting questions, observations, articles, and/or surveys can be a good way to get noticed. In my searches for top talent, I frequently look at those groups.
Develop your real-time network, too. Join a professional association and become an active member. Whether I am seeking a candidate for an inaugural role on a campus or a well-networked professional for a leadership post, I often turn to associations to locate talent. I look for people who have a deep footprint—e.g., those who have pursued professional-development opportunities or leadership roles—within those associations.
Remember that you have to give to receive. I regularly receive rich referrals and nominations from members of professional associations. Many of them clearly understand the concept of “paying it forward.” A career opportunity I describe might not be the right move for one of my association contacts, but she or he is usually quick to suggest other members with a connection to the community or the campus in question, or someone who might be ready to take on a new role. Contacts are invaluable in my work, and I take their nominations and referrals seriously. So foster connections whenever you can, and remember that networking is a two-way street. As a dear friend once noted, we must remember to make friends before we need them.
What other tips would you add to this list?
Diane M. Fennig is a senior consultant with the Human Capital Group, an executive-search and leadership-consulting firm based in Brentwood, Tenn.