- Jörg Kasten is a managing partner at the executive-search firm Boyden.
- He says that social media plays a major role when he’s looking for candidates.
- For Insider, he explains the ways to attract headhunters’ attention on LinkedIn and other sites.
This is an edited, translated version of an article that originally appeared on September 5, 2022.
Social networks have become indispensable tools for employees, allowing them to market themselves to maximize their professional success.
More and more managers and executives have also started to discover the advantages of a strong social-media profile.
They need to convey traditional parts of their jobs, such as delivering presentations and interacting with employees and business partners, in a digital format.
This is why headhunters now use these channels to search for and select suitable candidates.
And headhunters’ clients want to hire managers who present themselves well online.
What headhunters look for on social media
Two key things headhunters want to see are empathy and the ability to inspire people through actions and behavior.
These are skills that successful managers must have.
Headhunters will try to look beyond things like the number of followers one has, however. C-suite positions are more about being an opinion leader, meaning that people in the industry listen to what you have to say.
The goal is to be the go-to voice in your own sector. That’s why managers should also only publish serious and target-group-oriented posts on sites like LinkedIn. That applies equally to sharing posts from other profiles and any political content.
One big pitfall is overdoing it with content creation; too much self-promotion and constant updates will scare off headhunters and can be a crucial reason why a potential candidate misses out on a vacant top-level position.
If someone is posting several blogs per week on a variety of topics, headhunters may infer that the person writing the posts isn’t the actual author and that they are getting professional help.
Managers are too often tempted to adopt a kind of influencer status on social media instead of providing tangible and relevant information about themselves and their activities.
This is especially key in the profile-summary section, which users should employ to provide meaningful content about what the candidate has done, rather than a flashy statement.
On the other hand, it’s also important that a candidate’s profile isn’t empty and outdated. Having no content leaves a bad impression and a headhunter will quickly lose interest.
Incidentally, the “Endorse” button on LinkedIn is a double-edged sword. Used the right amount, endorsing other LinkedIn users’ skill can underscore credibility in key areas of expertise. When used excessively, the profile ─ and thus the person behind it ─ comes across as inauthentic and lacking credibility.
Even a seemingly small lapse can prevent headhunters from shortlisting a candidate. For example, if a recruiter is looking for a head of sustainability, and they see that a potential candidate has posted a story with their sports car next to them, the person will very likely be deemed unsuitable for the role.
It’s crucial that managers consider their audience and the potential effects of their online presence when posting anything.