Master LinkedIn: Tips for Senior Executives

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Is it just me, or is this time of the year unbearably slow? 

It could be an overindulgence in holiday sugar on top of our already gluttony-filled lives. Or the single-digit weather and endless overcast skies in northern Montana have oppressively squished my bubbly personality into curmudgeonly melancholy.  

One thing is for sure; it’s probably Elon’s fault. Forced chuckle.

For my line of work, the developments of economic uncertainty and daily reminders of big-time layoffs have kept me busy with anxious inquiries. I’ve also spent more time with Pavilion’s Executive On The Bench (OTB) community. The unique community is a collection of execs presently out of work and on the prowl. The group numbers are notably growing.

Are executives in transition facing a perfect storm of suckage? 


But rather than my usual chinwag of sarcastic bitching, I’d like to offer a few LinkedIn action items to help soothe the persistent itch of job-seeking blues. After all, it feels good to take control of something—albeit it small—especially when so many frustrating market circumstances remain out of our control.

Align Your MOST RECENT Job Experience

I’ve studied the hell out of the LinkedIn algorithm. Specifically from the LinkedIn Recruiter tool. It turns out that building a seven-figure reverse head-hunting business paid some knowledge dividends that we can use to improve our odds of getting found. I understand what influences inbound recruiter search and what doesn’t. Consider the following.

Your most recent experience (job title and company) impacts how you’re found on LinkedIn the most.

I write about this in more detail in Learnings From Ten-Thousand Hours Of LinkedIn. The following is a key excerpt. 

(When it comes to LinkedIn Search)”…a Director at Salesforce is categorized with other Directors within large tech/FAANG. Therefore, they would not likely show up in searches in other industries, such as healthcare or manufacturing.

However, that same Director is also unlikely to show up in Vice President searches at large tech/FAANG firms even if they held a prior role as a Vice President.

Why? The recency of their experience as a Director trumps their past work.

Your title affects both subjective perception AND robots. So whoever says that titles don’t matter is grossly mistaken.

If you take an advisor, board member, or consulting role—and list that as your most recent experience, LinkedIn now favors you under that terminology, and you will show up with other advisors, board members, and consultants. (Which may or may not be your intention)

The takeaway?

LinkedIn is designed to give you more of the same. It is optimized for recruiters to find the exact title they’re looking for in a given role.

This leaves you to hope that a recruiter says, “Ah yes, I will search for Directors to fill my VP role.” or “I’ll search other industries to fill this role and take a gamble.”

Which, let’s be honest, is unlikely because presenting less impressive titles to their clients—or industry mismatches— typically doesn’t bode well for them. And that’s after assuming that they found you in the first place. It’s neither right nor wrong. It’s just the way it is.

What can you do?

Pay attention to your job title, and if you can make tweaks to it in your favor—do so. Be more intentional and forward-thinking about negotiating the right title and get creative when appropriate.

For example, if you work with a company that gets acquired, sometimes listing that you work for the larger company will steer your career in a better direction.

There are countless nuances that I can’t get into here—so buzz me an email with a specific scenario to consider.”

Here’s what my most recent experience looks like:

I list that I am a Career Coach because LinkedIn is a sales channel for my services. A title like Career Coach should suffice for my entrepreneurial use case; however, if I decided to start looking for Chief Growth Officer work again, I’d be making a big mistake. If you presently have “member” “advisor” or “consultant” as your most recent experience AND you are actively looking for new opportunities, I implore you to reconsider.

Sometimes this means that your most recent experience must be moved below your actual job. This scenario is most common when joining executive networks, communities, or other extracurriculars you’d like to highlight. In the example above, I’m thrilled that many of our CORE Connect Founding Members have added their contributions to their LinkedIn profile. Doing so greatly helps our mission to spread awareness about our efforts; however, we do not want our work to trump their title and organization categories for the LinkedIn algorithm.

Finally, an alternative is to move suitable experiences or side hustles to the Volunteering section to de-clutter your experience and present a more linear and understandable path for others. It’s less likely that others will read the volunteering section, but if they do, it can be valuable to those who really dig into your background without renouncing your inbound search efficacy to the LinkedIn algorithm gods.

Remove The OPEN TO WORK Banner

I’m sure that LinkedIn’s intention with the open to work banner is positive and serves as a use case for somebody somewhere. But for executives, perception is nine-tenths of the law, and being perceived as desperate is not a good look.

I won’t belabor the point with a deep analysis of why, but as a general rule of thumb, more executives should consider how the information they share publicly impacts how they are perceived. Tossing the #OPENTOWORK frame is a surefire way to bastardize any hopes at leverage in a later negotiation. 


Use LinkedIn To Keyword Optimize Your Resume

The final tip is regarding a little-used feature on LinkedIn to run a keyword analysis. It’s sort of a hack that my team used to optimize resumes for certain roles and beat the ATS robots. I still advise you to take the robots out of the equation when looking for work and empower your network like a badass—but you may find value in this quick hack too.

– First, go to your LinkedIn profile.
– Click the (MORE) button and select (BUILD A RESUME)

– Next, select (UPLOAD RESUME). We’re not making one of those lame resumes from (CREATE FROM PROFILE).

– You’ll then be prompted to select the desired job title you target. Click (APPLY)

– LinkedIn will now analyze your resume briefly and suggest keywords that LinkedIn finds in their job descriptions.

The suggestions aren’t perfect. You will notice that oftentimes LinkedIn suggests skills that are relatively tactical for the seniority of the role. My hunch is that many job descriptions are written by junior professionals or assistants and don’t often catch the true vision for executive roles. Therefore LinkedIn perpetuates a softer skillset for executive leadership. Keep this in mind.

I recommend running the report several times to build a “360” degree view.

In other words, if you’re a VP of Product Marketing, run your job title, but also run Director of Product Marketing, CMO, VP of Product, Product Manager, VP of Finance, Chief Operating Officer, CEO, etc. It’s important to build a complete picture of what’s necessary for several roles and apply them as appropriate. Also, consider how soft skills play a big impact in your executive career. They are more important than you think to call out—and even more important to actually live by and execute. 

Finally, we’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback and strong results from our resumes. If you like the resume format, snag a free copy of our template here. No form fill or lead magnet trap—simply copy the Google doc and get after it.

If you’d like an introduction to a strong executive resume writer to tackle this with, contact me, and I’ll make it happen. Happy hunting, y’all.

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