Sometimes candidates pose the most mouth-watering questions.
I am regularly approached by executives who have raised their heads up from busy careers to contemplate the job market. When we speak, they admit to having expended little energy keeping abreast of the job market and are disconnected from the world of outside job opportunities. Then they ask, “How do I raise my visibility?”
As someone who makes their living looking for people, I do not need be asked twice when it comes to advising people on how to get found. Just count me in. And so, for all of you longing to make my job easier, I offer the following thoughts on visibility in career management.
Let me start by pointing out that executives lack visibility for various reasons:
- Some have never seen the need to be visible. They are content at their companies, work away at their jobs, rise through their organizations (or not) and have little concern for whether anyone on the outside knows that they exist.
- Some have somehow ended up in a role, assignment or organization that is obscure or off the beaten path rendering them virtually invisible to the outside world.
- Some misunderstand sites such as LinkedIn and stay away from them
- Some are employed by companies that shield them from the prying eyes of competitors and head-hunters alike (Constellation Software comes to mind as an example). Under the guise of keeping a low profile, these companies are purposeful minimalists keeping employee names off their websites, press releases and collateral.
Visibility is an important ingredient in career management as it makes it possible for opportunity, timing, and serendipity to intersect with you. It expands options and can lead to career changing inflection points and decisions. More simply stated, unless you are trying to hide, visibility is a good thing.
Visibility happens as an output of effective brand management and as with any other product, strategies to promote one’s personal brand can span the innovative to the sandwich-board outlandish. At a very minimum, visibility improves with an up-to-date profile on sites such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is unquestionably THE recruiting marketplace, the go-to’ place for companies and recruiters alike. It is NOT a sign of disloyalty to be ‘on’ LinkedIn as such sites have become effective means by which to stay abreast of developments in one’s industry and network. Yet many people, dare I say whole industries remain barely represented on such sites (another one is Not Actively Looking). And by ‘barely’, I also mean the widespread minimalist tendency to state the bare facts, if that. LinkedIn profiles should include up to date roles, responsibilities and context (information about the company, industry and situation).
Think search engine optimization and make sure that key words are inserted that define you and increase the chances of you appearing in searches. If you don’t want to play the ‘connect’ game with anyone and everyone who reaches out to you, at least join selected ‘groups’ of interest. This increases the number of people who can see you and refines the understanding of your interests and expertise. With little effort, visibility can be amplified immeasurably with but a few small steps.
Second, brand-aware executives get active in their industry; they join associations and other sector-related groups; they volunteer; champion pet causes; attend conferences, speaking if possible, and sit on panels. In addition, they join networking/educational groups such as the tech sector’s ACETECH, Communitech, Invest Ottawa, CATA which are dedicated to excellence in their industry or functional area. They volunteer or join boards. If they can write (or in my instance, even if the cannot) and have opinions they enter the blogosphere or submit articles. I can go on and on….
I often joke that candidates should be nice to me for I come bearing career gifts. Some may be pre-owned, tired, frayed or of admittedly of questionable quality, BUT, some are career-making gems. In fact, rather than lament or ignore my calls, candidates should worry when I do not call for such silence may indicate a depreciation in their market value or, that they have somehow become lost in the crowd. And while the former should admittedly be concerning, the latter should be managed so that it never happens.
I selflessly urge everyone to get out there and get visible.
About the Author
Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.