HOW TO: Use LinkedIn for Executive Job Search (Part 1) – The Traditional Approach of Attacking the Hidden Job Market

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(This is the first in a two-part blog post on how to utilize LinkedIn for Executive Job Search.  This first part will look at using LinkedIn in the “traditional” manner of utilizing Jobs Boards and searching out Hiring Managers, while the second part will take a Windmill Networking approach to utilizing LinkedIn for Executive Job Search through a deeper understanding of social networking and personal branding.)

As a sales and business development executive who has personally experienced being in transition during this recession, I can relate to other executives and their current job search in this dismal economy.

Not only has the economy dipped at an unprecedented rate for a prolonged period of time, the job search environment has been radically altered.  Where networking with other executives may have provided more plentiful job leads in the past, this recession may be proving to be a little more difficult.  The executive recruiters that you may have fostered relationships with in the past may not be calling you when you most need them.  And because the higher up you are in the food chain the fewer jobs there are, it may start to feel a bit lonely at the top.

What hasn’t changed is that the “hidden job market” is still where a majority of positions are being filled, even more so at the executive level.  If you have not attacked that market, it will make it even more difficult to find your next position.  Of course, the only way to attack that market is to 1) get in front of decision makers and hiring managers and 2) expand your network to help you get in front of these same targets.  For this purpose, LinkedIn will be the most valuable online tool that you can utilize.

I like to refer to LinkedIn as being a huge database of people, a place to find and be found.  I talked about finding others in the above paragraph, and this is very easy to do on LinkedIn.  Utilizing the Advanced People Search you can easily pinpoint decision makers in the organizations that you are targeting.  How you contact them on LinkedIn should be just as you do in person: asking for a referral from a trusted connection.  And for that purpose, LinkedIn has an Introduction functionality that you can use.  If you want to research more companies to add to your target list, move over Hoovers: the LinkedIn Companies database is growing and includes a lot of very interesting data that you can utilize to analyze where you might be a good fit.

You’ll notice that I have not even mentioned the Jobs section of LinkedIn until now.  Just as we all sometimes get lucky in Las Vegas, some are lucky enough to find a job on the Internet.  Job boards are not the preferred way to look for a job, as the chances that you will find a job on them are slim.  Furthermore, once you list your profile, you get contacted by the people you have no interest in.  And muddling through the lower-level jobs yields very few executive jobs.  The Ladders, obviously, is the exception here, and I am one who has found a job on The Ladders.

But the LinkedIn Jobs boards are different.   LinkedIn is, at the heart of its platform, a place for you to connect and develop relationships with other professionals.  And because of this, LinkedIn is a very attractive place for recruiters to be.  LinkedIn hosting a robust Jobs board section is a natural extension of this phenomenon.  And the quality of the Jobs board is high, very high.  You won’t see the “garbage” that other sites often post.  In terms of volume, you definitely won’t see as many jobs posted here as on the other infamous jobs boards, but you should know that there are many jobs that are posted on LinkedIn that aren’t posted elsewhere.  Case in point: I did a search for “VP” this morning within 50 miles of my home here in Orange County, California (by the way, Orange County, with a population of 3 million, still is considered part of “Greater Los Angeles” on LinkedIn).  Only 19 results came up.  But 8 of the 19 were exclusive to LinkedIn.  And they were all of very high quality.  In other words, if you are not using the LinkedIn Jobs board you may be missing out.

What else do I like about the LinkedIn Jobs board?  Check out this screen that recruiters see when they post a job to LinkedIn: “Receive on average 30 applicants.”  You hear the stories that other job sites get hundreds if not thousands of applicants for each job posted.  LinkedIn gets only 30 on average.  30 people on average is not a lot of competition.  Searching for your next position on the LinkedIn Jobs board may be the best kept secret out there! (until this blog post, of course 😉 )

Details of how to use all of these LinkedIn applications to their fullest extent will be made available in my upcoming LinkedIn Book, which I am happy to announce is tentatively slated for an October 2 publishing date.  I am even happier to announce that you can see the front cover of the book for the first time by clicking on that LinkedIn Book link.  For a preview, if you haven’t read it, check out how the editor of my book found her job on LinkedIn utilizing the advice in the book.

An interesting note on job boards, though, is that social networking sites are starting to replace them as the premier source to find candidates.  And that is why you shouldn’t be using LinkedIn only for the above activities: you need to realize that social networking, like LinkedIn, is free career insurance that you should buy into and can never have enough of.  I will continue this conversation in the 2nd part of this blog post.

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Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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