A Q&A with a Recruiter about Why Social Needs to Be Part of Your Digital Shelf Space
This Q&A is part of a series on how people view social selling.
I recently met Ken Schmitt, a seasoned marketing and sales recruiter based in Southern California. In addition to running his executive recruiting firm, TurningPoint Executive Search, Ken founded a very active and engaged executive sales and marketing networking group, Sales Leadership Alliance, with chapters in San Diego and Orange County. I was pleased to recently speak to this group about social selling.
Ken and I met, not surprisingly, on LinkedIn. He is an avid user and educator about the importance of LinkedIn. I thought it would be interesting to hear his take on the changes he’s seen on LinkedIn and how it impacts his ability to assess a candidate’s fit.
Q. What does your company TurningPoint Executive Search do?
We are an executive search firm focused on sales and marketing candidates. About 75% of the candidates we place are in sales and marketing and about 25% are in general management and operations. We work nationally and our clients cover every possible industry. We provide a local presence with a national reach.
Q. Social media used to be relegated to a small group of social media experts, but that has changed. How much weight do you and employers place on executive sales and marketing professionals’ individual social media presence in the hiring process?
Quite a bit of weight. For example, if I’m talking to a sales leader, or even a non-management candidate and they tell me about how well-networked and how active they are, and yet they don’t have a LinkedIn profile or they have one but it only has a basic name, title and current job, it makes me wonder how networked they really are. That’s the great thing about social media, the fact that it is a public forum forces professionals to be more truthful about their background, accomplishments and career.
Q. Do you see any relationship between socially-active candidates and their success once they’re in the job?
I can’t say that I have any hard data that directly ties success to someone’s social media presence. However, anecdotally, the stronger their network the more desirable they are to employers. I will also say that socially visible candidates will undoubtedly be exposed to more opportunities and a wider range of employers and industries.
Q. Are you finding any executive sales and marketing job descriptions requiring an active presence on social media?
Yes. Marketing positions in particular. Jobs are being created that didn’t exist just a few years ago. User experience, in that respect, is more important and there are more requirements for understanding social and the terms surrounding it. In sales, we do discuss this with our clients, but it’s pretty rare to see this requirement on the sales side. Which is kind of surprising.
Q. What are you seeing from candidates with regard to blogging? Do you encourage it and are people using it as a personal branding tool?
Definitely, without question. Whenever I speak to job seekers I refer to their “digital shelf space”, similar to what you see in a grocery store – every aisle is filled with products. However, the majority of those products are sold by the top 3-5 companies. With so many products being sold by one company, that company greatly increases the odds of increasing their sales.
When it comes to your career, the goal is exactly the same – to increase the odds that someone will “buy” your brand, in this case, you! Blogging increases the odds that you’re going to hit more radar screens when a recruiter or hiring manager searches for you based on certain keywords. Having a blog is going to help immensely!
Q. What’s the biggest mistake you see people making on LinkedIn?
Not being there in the first place is the single biggest mistake! You’re being missed by so many hiring managers, recruiters and companies if we can’t find you. And, once you’re there, make sure you optimize and maximize your profile as you would any website – it’s all about keywords and SEO. Make sure those industry and job-related terms are present and that you’re profile is unique and memorable.
Also, LinkedIn is not a place to sell. It is not a place of desperation. Sending out blanket emails saying “I’m looking for a job” or “sign up for my webinar” without regard to the people you’re sending it to, makes you come across as being desperate and overly salesy. Involve yourself in discussions. Post and answer questions as an expert. Make sure you’re reaching out to the right audience. Make sure you’re doing the work and not just mass emailing.
Q. What’s your best advice for using LinkedIn or Twitter for professional purposes?
I would say for sales or marketing, they are great research tools. LinkedIn and Twitter don’t take the place of face to face meetings. But they can provide you with more information about who you’re talking to, providing you with invaluable insights about your target audience before you pick up the phone.
As a job-seeker you can follow companies. And before you head out for that interview, do the research. Look up the average tenure within the company and department you are meeting. Do you see a trend of high turnover? Maybe you should have some concern about what’s going on there.
Also, I can’t forget about Google+. In the last two years, or even year, Google+ has come a very long way. As I mentioned, more “digital shelf space” adds to your ability to be found, and because Google+ is part of the Google pallet, you’re even more likely to be found thanks to their SEO strength. Google+ goes a very, very long way and has definitely helped me diversify my network because it’s a different and broader audience.
Q. Is it possible to get a job without a LinkedIn profile?
Yes, but it’s definitely more difficult. 20% of the folks we place are sourced from LinkedIn. 20-30% come from referrals, many are referrals from contacts we make on LinkedIn, and 40-50% are from direct recruiting. While LinkedIn wants to control everything by replacing resumes with profiles, LinkedIn only allows you to have one LinkedIn profile.
But that age old practice is very much alive – you must customize your resume before sending it to a potential employer. Obviously, this is a major limitation for LinkedIn. With your LinkedIn profile, you have to cast a wider net. Then customize offline. The resume is not dead and LinkedIn is just a means to an end – but it’s a very important means!
I’d like to thank Ken for taking the time to speak with me and sharing his expertise. If there’s anything I’ve learned here, it’s that being on social, helps you both get a job, and be successful in that job.
To learn more about how social selling can help you make more sales, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 347-277-5162.