Social Etiquette - How Should You Interact Online?


Conducting an Executive Job Search Online using LinkedIn and Social Networking

Communication online should be personal and two-way

Christian Pielow, from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC), discusses how senior executives can use social networks most effectively when in an active job search:

Using the LinkedIn Status Update

There are mixed opinions on whether your Status should announce that you are currently in transition. However, before we consider the debate, remember that when you update your profile to match your current employment status, all of your connections will be notified via the news feed. For example, a former colleague of mine changed their job to another company and told me that she received three messages of congratulations the following day. Perhaps connections will see you change your profile information and get in contact? Therefore, if you want to inform all of your contacts of your employment status, this could be a good way to get the news out.

TIP: To stop others from being notified when you change anything on your profile go to Account & Settings > Member Feed Options and select hidden. You can change it back a day or two after you have made the change if you want future updates to be visible.

Your Status is also a Profile Headline – Does your current job search define your career?

Due to the color and location of the status bar, it is often the first thing people see when they look at your profile, so rather than just updating your connections, your status will be seen by anyone visiting your profile (until you click the clear button). As you may have seen, many profiles read ‘Senior executive looking for my next opportunity in [industry/function]’. While many argue that this is a good way to broadcast that you are available, at a senior level this does not enhance your personal brand or even increase your chances of securing a position. With regard to the primary target audience - executive recruiters - employment status plays a secondary factor in their search for the top talent. To put it simple, executive search consultants (also known as headhunters or executive recruiters) will contact you whether you are employed or not.

Social Networking is Dynamic – Use the status feature to keep your profile active

The best way to use the status update feature is to include a link once or twice a week to an interesting article you have read, or even better, that you have written yourself. While this may not automatically let people know you are looking for a position, it will definitely bring you to their attention. If your profile is compelling and they know of an open position, the likelihood is that they will contact you regardless of your employment status.

A few examples:

  • James Smith is attending the Annual I.T. Industry convention about the future of social networking and VOIP [link]
  • Rachel Taylor just read a great whitepaper on networking available here [link]. Let me know what you think.

TIP: If the link is too long, shorten it with www.bit.ly. Simply visit www.bit.ly, put the website address in the form, then copy the www.bit.ly address that it provides and paste into your status alongside your message.

Targeted Networking

Letting everyone in your network and LinkedIn know that you are in transition is not particularly beneficial and if overdone, can have a negative effect on your job search. The real power of LinkedIn is in targeted networking. Search out those decision makers in your connections; fellow industry professionals, executive search professionals, and close friends. Re-build relationships by simply writing a message such as ‘How is everything going in (location)? We have not spoke for ages, do you fancy a coffee sometime?’ or ‘I am in the area next week, fancy meeting?’ This may seem elementary it is important to highlight how open most executives on LinkedIn are to building relationships outside of the virtual world.

TIP: Exchanging or posting email addresses or telephone numbers, and offering to go for a coffee should only be done in private messages.

Group Discussions

Another important aspect to LinkedIn is the Groups feature. Whether you are in transition or not, every executive should join industry specific and executive networking groups. Contribute to, and start discussions. Demonstrate your thought leadership and connect with like-minded executives and recruiters. Build relationships and then mention that you are in transition and looking for opportunities. Always remember networking is a two way process. Going back to the status update, it is a very one way communication tool (unless you invite discussion through an interesting statement or link to something interesting).

Promotion versus Networking

Finally, senior executives should not post in groups or discussions comments such as ‘Senior executive looking for position in [location/industry], please contact me via email or telephone’. While one or two people may have found a job this way, to the majority of executive recruiters and professionals open to networking this is not useful. It sends out a message that you are not using social networks to connect, help others, learn, develop and discuss, but instead are just there to get your next job.

To make this clearer: would you turn up to a networking event and immediately announce that you are an financial services executive with 10 years experience looking for opportunities in Asia, then broadcast your personal email address? No. Online networking is very similar to in person networking; it is about equally balanced relationships. The value-add for each person must be matched.

The Rules of Social Engagement

Do not be alarmed by these simple rules of social engagement. Although your personal brand requires careful management, social networking offers excellent opportunities to connect with interesting and successful executives and search consultants. If you enjoy building relationships (and who doesn’t?), the rest will follow."


This article was written by Christian Pielow from the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC).

BlueSteps is the exclusive service of the AESC that puts senior executives on the radar screen of over 6,000 executive search professionals in over 70 countries. Be visible, and be considered for up to 50,000 opportunities handled by AESC search firms every year. Find out more at www.BlueSteps.com.


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