How Executive Researchers Find You: What Executives Need to Know

Social media is a staple in the career marketing mix today. Recent research from the Pew Institute shows that social media usage has risen significantly from adults over the age of 50 over the last decade. But only one-third (35%) of adults over the age of 65 use social media for any purpose. Do executive search firms, whose businesses hinge on long-standing and trusting relationships, really lean on social media as much as higher volume recruiters? How much time should executives looking to establish new relationships with executive search firms spend on social media and which sites should they prioritize?
Social media as social proof 
Executive search firms are looking for specific expertise and leadership traits, not a jack-of-all-trades. So before diving into any one platform or site, executives should spend some time on a personal branding strategy. This will differ based on the region, industry and function that you work in, and those differences will help them establish what they intend to achieve from having social media accounts. 
If an executive search firm is looking for a marketing head for a consumer media company, they may look to Twitter and Facebook to get a sense of how much of a following an individual has. Whereas, a search for an operations head at an oil and gas company may require more traditional research techniques. 
Ultimately, you want to know that you are investing time in a place that could yield results, so look to see if executive search consultants and other industry thought leaders have profiles and are active on the site you are considering.
“I look at social media as both inbound and outbound marketing,” says Kathy Simmons (USA), Executive Director of BlueSteps Executive Career Services. “Particularly with LinkedIn, it’s not only a way to be found, but also a way to demonstrate social proof.” 
Different platforms offer different opportunities to validate your expertise and your position as an expert – LinkedIn has recommendations and endorsements, Facebook has likes and shares, Twitter has retweets and likes – so it is important to build a network of engaged connections once you begin using a site. Look for trends and topics that you can comment on that will yield engagement from other users – all the while thinking about your personal brand. 
“Social media checks can be useful to show a candidate’s temperament and to judge if they will fit with what the client wants,” says Peter Lagomarsino (USA), Partner at The Mintz Group. “People can reveal a lot online and it is useful to check that the candidate’s social media history matches what they have disclosed to you privately.”