In the world of health IT executives looking for a leg up in finding their next challenging opportunity, many wonder how to leverage LinkedIn to maximize their job search. To put it simply, using your LinkedIn account strategically can lead to newly opened doors. If you’re planning to start looking for your next role soon or simply want to leave yourself open to new opportunities coming your way, there are a few basic tips to follow.
- Be Accurate. Does your profile represent the current scope of the role you’re in and the accomplishments you’ve led? Simply putting your title and the name of the organization doesn’t cut it. What’s more, if you left a role two years ago, that needs to be reflected in your LinkedIn summary. Speaking of accuracy, what are those things you’ve done in the last several years that you’re proud of and how do you describe them? Bulleting your accomplishments are a great way to convey the scope of your work without having to write a full executive summary. Remember, just as you’ve spent years building your own personal brand within and outside of your organization, you also need to spend time maintaining that brand via LinkedIn. If you’ve become known as a CIO or health IT leader who can transform organizations, give concrete examples of that work to back it up. Anyone can use strong adjectives to describe their work, but if you can put solid numbers related to the budget, team, project scope and outcomes, then you already have a leg up on others using LinkedIn.
- Be Involved. There are thousands upon thousands of opportunities to make your voice heard through LinkedIn. Whether it’s through HIMSS, CHIME, one of its affiliate organizations or another LinkedIn specific group in IT or healthcare, make yourself active in providing content. This can be done through one of the many discussion threads, or in publishing your own thought leadership pieces to your network. You never know when a connection you make through a discussion thread could lead to an interesting opportunity down the line, or when a thought leadership piece you publish could lead to a collaboration with someone in your network.
- Be In Touch. If you’re a healthcare IT executive, you’ve likely spent years building your personal brand at national conferences and in developing partnership with peer executives. LinkedIn is another way to continue maintaining and expanding your own brand presence. When you see that one of your contemporaries started a new role themselves or completed an exciting new project, congratulate them! Send them a short, personal note.
- Be Intentional. You didn’t get to your role as an executive by happenstance. You likely planned and worked your way up the ladder. Now that you’re an IT executive doesn’t mean you should stop planning for the future. Your next step may be into a certain kind of organization that intrigues you, or geography, or size of company you’d like to move into. Reach out and connect on LinkedIn with those that are already in those kinds of organizations. Send them a message and try to pick their brains and ask for advice about a current project you’re working on. Building a collaboration means finding common ground, not simply asking for a job. For example, if you’re a VP of IT looking to be a CIO, reach out to those CIOs you admire via LinkedIn and establish that connection. There’s never a guarantee of what will come of it, but all of those CIOs will be looking for their own replacement someday and, if you’ve established a relationship, it could be you.
The most important advice we can give you is to not wait. Too often executives do not think about starting to leverage LinkedIn until it’s an absolute requirement because of a downsizing, family pressures or some other reason. Being an executive, moves do not always happen quickly and they rarely happen on your personally laid out timetable. Be accurate, be involved, be in touch and be intentional now with your LinkedIn network so that when you’re ready to start looking for opportunities, you can hit the ground running.
Zachary Durst and Daniel Young are senior associates with the executive search firm Witt/Kieffer. Durst is based in Oak Brook, Illinois, and focuses on identifying CIOs, CMIOs, and other IT leaders in hospitals, health systems, academic medical centers, and health-related organizations. Young, who is based in Franklin, Tenn., supports the recruitment of CEOs and other senior leaders for healthcare and not-for-profit organizations.