Fifteen seconds. That’s roughly how long it takes an experienced recruiter to review your LinkedIn profile. And that’s considering it’s a relatively complete one. But aside from being a playground for recruiters, it’s also an effective resource to help you network, connect with others, learn and share.

Launched in 2003, LinkedIn has evolved into the largest professional social network in the world. Despite its stronghold, skeptics don’t believe the juice is worth the squeeze and hesitate to devote any time to it.

As a healthcare executive seen as a leader in your niche, having a robust LinkedIn profile shows you are “up with the times,” networking and contributing to your field.

Jobvite, an applicant-tracking software company, released a survey July 2012 revealing just how prevalent social recruiting has become; 92 percent of U.S. companies in 2012 use social networks and media to find talent.

All of the research associates (recruiters) at Tyler & Company, a firm that specializes in healthcare executive search, include LinkedIn in their recruitment strategies. How they use the database varies, but here are their ground rules:

As an accomplished executive, not having a LinkedIn profile isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for candidacy. However, not playing can be detrimental if you are a junior executive or applying for certain roles, namely those in information technology, communications, sales, marketing and business development.

While ZoomInfo and Hoovers are good information aggregators, says Charlotte C. Tinsley, senior executive recruiter, “LinkedIn is vital for those executives whose accomplishments haven’t been published via mainstream media and / or whose position titles don’t yet qualify them for inclusion in an executive directory. LinkedIn is like a map that helps us locate sources and potential candidates.”

Having an established network can strengthen your marketability in terms of quantity and quality of contacts, as well as recommendations and endorsements. Connecting to your peers and other leaders also can help you stay in touch. Be sure to find and make the proper connections and join some of the more than one million groups. Look for groups related to your industry, profession and employer. Many associations and media / publications also have LinkedIn groups.

Groups serve as ideal platforms in which to share articles and thoughts, and ask questions. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing to a group, educate your network by posting the link or comment on your personal Discussions board.

Michaele Glenn, healthcare executive recruiter, stresses, “Behind many special interest groups are thought leaders. If prospective candidates or sources and I are members of the same group, I can identify and access executives with the required skills and experience.”
There is increasing concern of groups’ main Discussions walls becoming job boards vs. platforms on which to share ideas. While promoting opportunities on a group’s main Discussions board carries consequences, its popularity has grown because posting here (vs. under Jobs) generally is free and/or does not require group administrator approval. Fortunately (for Tyler & Company), our executive recruiters have established networks, making this main Discussions wall broadcast unnecessary. In addition, since requirements for candidacy usually are stringent, many of the healthcare executives sourced for these leadership positions are passive candidates (not actively job hunting). By being a member of a group, executive recruiters in that same group can find you vs. your stumbling across the job posting.
What does your LinkedIn profile say about you? At the very least, ensure it includes:
  • Your name
  • A professional photo of yourself, preferably in color
  • A descriptive “professional headline” under your name; Vice President may not resonate to external audiences as much as Controller of Healing Health System.
  • An industry (e.g., hospital and health care)
  • The city or state where you reside
  • An employment history (at a minimum, list employers, dates worked and job titles)
  • Your education

These criteria are used as basic search parameters. We encourage you to include a summary, information about your accomplishments, results and experience. Quantify when possible. While you’re at it, add skills and expertise as your network can easily endorse these. If you’re overly concerned about falsely signaling you’re in “job search mode,” in settings under privacy controls, uncheck (turn off) your activity broadcasts.

Whatever you do, don’t misrepresent yourself. Keep in mind LinkedIn is a social network and your peers can attest to your achievements. Check spelling and grammar.

Since clients oftentimes ask for candidates who possess specific, concrete experience, Tinsley also recommends using keywords or buzzwords specific to your role and industry. Examples include financial turnaround, SEO, certificate of need, restructuring and EMR / EHR implementation.

Manage your public profile via settings. By default, basic information will be checked and visible to your network. However, it may not be a bad idea to also check the boxes for headline, current and past positions, skills, education and what you’re interested in (contact preferences).

LinkedIn imposes restrictions on those who may contact you, particularly, those outside of your network. Some executive recruiters purchase InMail or upgrade their LinkedIn accounts, but even then there are constraints.

Stephanie Odorisio Arriviello, healthcare executive recruiter, discloses, “Savvy LinkedIn users have found a way around this by embedding their contact information (a phone or e-mail address) into certain public fields. For example, consultants and business developers may list their phone numbers in their professional headlines, while others may prefer a more subtle approach and list contact information with their contact preferences.”

Healthcare is a small world, and sometimes, it’s all about who you know. Or with LinkedIn, who knows you. Have fun with LinkedIn. Used effectively, it can be your playground.