A big part of my job consists of designing, developing and transforming LinkedIn profiles on behalf of senior-level executives. This is something I am proud and passionate about, knowing that my work can help create new opportunities for those looking for that next career step or transition.

I strive to deliver profiles that will attract executive recruiters' attention. I often think of it as "digital dating" in a sense, trying to spark that initial connection at first sight. There is no escaping the fact that online platforms such as LinkedIn & GatedTalent allow everyone at the touch of a fingertip to instantly see a snapshot of a person and make a judgment on one’s profile. Albeit, GatedTalent allows an executive far more control over their privacy with the fact that they must accept a connection request before any of their information is shared. 

With this in mind, I asked executive recruiter Lisa Hart (Senior Search Consultant at Wheless Partners) her thoughts on what drives her to connect with senior level executives once she has performed a search on LinkedIn and how much importance executives should place on their digital branding.

Q. What factors lead you to connect with executives when you have performed a LinkedIn search?

Lisa: I’m looking for the closest match possible to criteria established by our client, in the areas of experience, education, location, organization size and current position. It’s a plus to include an inviting photo and brief, well-written overview section.  If I’m undecided about connecting, the overview section can be a tipping point toward doing so, as are recommendations. 

Q. What makes a good profile stand out?

Lisa: The verbiage, first.  Concise, clear, well written, in the first person, correct punctuation and spelling. Then, a relaxed and smiling photo that truly represents the individual, professionally dressed. 

Q. How do you feel when you see phrases such as ‘Actively Seeking CEO role’ in a LinkedIn profile tagline and/or summary?

Lisa: I wouldn’t let that dissuade me from reading the profile, so I personally don’t have a problem with someone who is actively looking. I don’t know the situation and if I feel they meet a lot of the criteria, I would connect and see how it goes. I would ask why they are actively looking.

Actively looking does put off some recruiters because at times executives who are providing excellent leadership are recruited often, particularly if their organization is well known. I’ve talked to quite a few leaders who have changed organizations multiple times because they were recruited away. When you consider the overall numbers, however, it’s relatively rare, another reason not to rush to judgement.

Q. How important is it for executives to keep an up-to-date version of both their LinkedIn & GatedTalent profiles?

Lisa: It’s very important because they are the first locations recruiters look. This is a change that has occurred over the past 5 years or so. In the past, we viewed company websites for bios initially. They are now my second choice, or I may Google and see what comes up. 

Q. Executives sometimes tell me they are not getting the right opportunities offered to them via LinkedIn. How can they change this?

Lisa: Besides having an expert assist with assuring the profile is as it should be, it comes down to being a good match for the position. If recruiters are contacting individuals for positions that are consistently not a fit, then the recruiters are doing a poor job. If an executive is aspiring to a position that is beyond what they have accomplished or on a different career path, then it will help to communicate in a way where recruiters will see you in the desired position. 

Q. What’s your best piece of advice with regards to creating and sustaining a strong professional digital presence?

Lisa: Once your profile is polished, keep it current. Change the photo every 3 years at least. Communicate with people if you are on LinkedIn prior to wanting or needing a new position. “Thumbs up” articles every now and then, keeping in mind your personal brand.  Write original content and publish, link to or tag others you may have sighted within the article. Provide recommendations for others.

I would like to thank Lisa Hart for her insights on the questions I regularly get asked from executives and the members of the GatedTalent platform.