In Pursuit of Profit
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In 2011, LinkedIn hit the 100 million user mark and I received an email thanking me for being in the first .5% of members. That means I was somewhere in the 400,000 range of early users. I joined LinkedIn in 2002, back when you needed a member to “let you in.”
Why did I start using LinkedIn? I had been in recruiting for about three years and knew the power of networking when seeking a job. Furthermore, I recognized the power of a tool where someone could see the work history of people in their professional network.
Fast forward to 2021 and now LinkedIn has more than 750 million members and is where every recruiter goes to find candidates for a position. I am no longer unique as a recruiter using LinkedIn like I was in 2002, but there are not many recruiters who have been using LinkedIn for 19 years.
I see resources all the time on how to create and manage your LinkedIn profile, and I want to chime in on a few ideas that I have observed in nearly 20 years of looking at LinkedIn user profiles. (My focus will be on the CFO position as that is where I have spent my time the last 13 years with CFO Selections, as well as among individuals seeking jobs in the United States.)
I see far too many senior accounting and finance profiles where people have omitted the first part of their career. I understand the concern people have about age discrimination, but there is very good reason to include this information, such as:
But guess what? You will not pop up in the LinkedIn search for any of those CFO jobs the executive recruiter is working on because you left off that part of your career.
It is not an exaggeration that I have probably seen tens of thousands of CFO LinkedIn user profiles, and if I really spent the time analyzing the last 13 years, I may have hit the 100,000 mark at this point!
When a recruiter is looking for people, the more a recruiter can glean in a LinkedIn profile the more they can feel certain when reaching out to you that you may be “the one.” Why not add some personal items on your profile? Put down things like:
Just like including information about the length of your career, there could be something about your interests that makes you the ideal CFO for the role.
Don’t believe me? A few years ago we conducted a CFO search for a company using AI for the soccer industry. Well guess what, if we saw a profile where soccer was mentioned and they had the requisite CFO experience, that person jumped to the head of the line to reach out to.
I know some people may disagree with me on this point, but from my experience, you should not ignore the first 18 years of your life. So many professionals regard their earliest business experience as inconsequential and, therefore, unprofessional to include on their LinkedIn profile, especially if they are further along in their career. I disagree!
Now, I am not suggesting you list every employer you may have had in high school. But you can find a place on LinkedIn to point out items of relevance about your start in life. Let people know:
Why am I saying this? Well, if you held a customer service job (restaurant or grocery store are two common examples) for 3 to 5 years while growing up, guest what? That implies you are likely outgoing, service oriented, and probably know something about the hospitality or retail industry. You may not have worked in either industry after graduating from college, but sometimes it is just exposure to an industry a company is seeking. Also, seeing that you were in a customer service job early in life implies you are likely a more outgoing and demonstrative type of CFO. That can really help a recruiter spot you when that is the style of CFO the client seeks.
The Rest is Up to You!
With 750 million users, you may think it is hard to stand out as a CFO on LinkedIn. But as a person who has looked at LinkedIn profiles for nearly 20 years, I can guarantee you the tips I have provided will help you be noticed by experienced recruiters. Of course, once you are noticed and contacted by a recruiter, the rest is up to you to get that great, new CFO opportunity!
About the Author
Alex de Soto anchors the CFO Selections search practice. He brings over 25 years of experience in accounting, finance, human resources, and executive search to his role as leader of the search team.
Since 2008, he has spent most of his time helping CEOs and CFOs of Pacific Northwest based companies find that unique match they seek for a CFO or Controller.