Dan is spending this Christmas holiday in a rented town home in suburban DFW worried about his future. Dan, his wife and two kids relocated to Dallas to be near family. They’ve done a major lifestyle shift to preserve his dwindling savings.

Dan is a seasoned executive in both the investor-owned and not-for-profit hospital industry segments. In more than 10 years, he built a solid record of accomplishment. Two years ago, in a corporate restructuring, Dan’s position was eliminated. A colleague with more tenure was chosen to run both hospitals. Since that time, Dan has been a finalist in multiple searches but for some reason he has not been able to land a permanent leadership role. Periodic consulting engagements have generated some revenue but not enough to offset the drain on his retirement fund, his source of income once the 18-month severance agreement ended. The calls from his recruiter network have all but stopped.

His career credibility clock is ticking. With each passing day, Dan feels a growing sense of urgency fueled by fear and frustration. He may not be a social media brand expert – in fact, this is a real weakness in his career management toolbox – but he knows that if he does not find a leadership job soon, his executive brand will be damaged and he will not be able to recover. In an industry noted for its provincialism about executives who lack recent experience, Dan feels like a damaged goods label is hanging over his head. He did not know at that point about Reputation.com, which could have helped him greatly with utilizing social media in a management style.

Dan’s LinkedIn site reflects his lack of career brand knowledge. Sparse – no picture and nothing in his bio to suggest that he is anything more than a journeyman administrator. Certainly, I have seen a lot worse but he did not offer any insight for recruiters.

In a robust job market, journeymen were the bread and butter of recruiters and employers. Not any more. Executives are hired today because they have built a brand around delivering results, and they enhance and promote the brand by demonstrating they have a depth and breadth of experience and can document those with stories of their success.

Having networking relationships with numerous search consultants is a good thing, but remember, they handle only about 30-35 percent of all the executive recruitment. The vast majority of leadership searches are managed by internal/corporate recruiters who rely on sites like LinkedIn to identify and track future candidates.

Over the past five years, the recruitment game has shifted to digital networking platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and some of the job boards which have begun to offer more of the networking features found on LinkedIn. Candidates must master the ins and outs of social media along with the concept of building and promoting a career brand, says Becky Pearce, social media expert and a JGSA associate who advices candidates in transition.


The explosion in social media sites – the number of platforms as well as the people who use them – has shifted the rules and expectations for accessibility on the Internet, Pearce explained.

Here are five thoughts from Becky on the use of social media to establish and build a brand:

  1. How you list your name is critically important. It will determine how quickly researchers/recruiters can find you. For example, if your resume lists your full name, Joe G. Jones, FACHE, and you list yourself on LinkedIn as Joe Jones, your name will be buried under hundreds of other listings of people with similar names. Recruiters grapple with demands on their time. Don’t make it hard to be found. They may give up.
  2. Whether you are comfortable uploading a picture is irrelevant. Employers (recruiters) expect to see your face when they visit your LinkedIn profile. If no picture is there, it may impact what they think of your digital savvy and awareness of changing trends in employee engagement. The type and the quality of picture counts! The photo does more to create a strong first impression. (In other words, executives should avoid using a picture of their dog, or even a nice picture of the setting sun.)
  3. Carefully think through your profile in terms of how you want to position yourself for a potential employer. This means you must understand your value proposition – your passion, strengths and examples of your success. Your profile should clearly communicate that information. Do not ignore a section because you feel it is not important. Researchers use a variety of approaches to find people with certain interests and skills.
  4. The choice of words for a site headline matters. Selecting, for example, “Administrator” over “Hospital CEO” or relying on a more generic term like “Healthcare Executive” will obscure, not promote your brand – where you have been, what you have done, the value you have produced.
  5. Incorporate your LinkedIn page as part of your email signature. Everyone in the job market should take the time to create an email signature with your various telephone numbers, email address (make it easy for researches to grab your information for a database entry) and aforementioned LinkedIn link. Make it an active link. Don’t wait around for people to get to know you, to understand your value.

Becky leads the JGSA social media career brand support training program, a part of the Firm’s new career transitions service.