Speaking and writing about a subject on which you are a genuine expert will position you for the most attractive jobs openings.

Imagine that great career opportunities came your way without your needing to hunt for them. Not just any jobs, but the types of jobs that you are most interested in and qualified for. 

Believe it or not, this is the reality for many executives. But it is not luck or serendipity that drives these job opportunities toward these professionals. In today's world, the most opportunities come to those who have established themselves as thought leaders in their respective fields. 

Becoming a recognized thought leader is one of the most effective ways for professionals to enhance their credibility and visibility in the market – two attributes that will draw attention and inquiries from recruiters in search of job candidates.

A thought leader is someone known as a go-to expert on a specific subject – any subject matter for which people seek advice, knowledge or perspective – from predictive analytics to cybersecurity; from succession planning to millennial talent retention. 

This expertise can be gained from practical experience or pursued through learning – most important, however is that the expertise is shared among a community. The importance of being “known” cannot be overstated. If you are a subject-matter expert, but no one is aware of it, you cannot be considered a thought leader. 

The two best ways to develop into a thought leader:

  1. Staying active in your professional network, both online and off.
  2. Producing compelling content that establishes you as an expert in your field.

Once thought leaders have established that they are authorities on a topic, or in a field, they are frequently sought out because of their reputation. They can be sought out for several kinds of opportunities – speaking engagements, quoted sources for articles, and of course, new jobs.   

Determine Your Ideal Subject Matter 

Most CIOs, CTOs and other senior IT executives find new positions either through internal contacts or executive seaerch professionals (recruiters). Both avenues require people knowing what you have to offer and being able to find you. Defining your unique value and communicating your expertise are keys to enhancing your reputation and visibility. Of course, if you're bent on landing a new role, you can help your chances significantly by pursuing a subject that will enhance your profile, and generate the most interest. 

For advancing your career, determine what you would like to be known for by focusing on a topic.  You can start by asking the following questions: 

  • What are my areas of expertise?
    Your efforts will be fruitful and enjoyable only if they are genuine. This will not be about passing yourself off as an expert; it will be about thinking through the areas in which you truly possess a wealth of experience and knowledge based on your education and work experience. Narrow your list to topics that:
    • you want to continue learning about and exploring
    • you are excited to share with others
    • you feel other professionals need to learn more about

  • Which of these topics do I find most interesting?
    Everything is easier when it holds your interest. Reflect on your favorite subject areas and industries. If you're interested in cybersecurity and how it applies to the green energy industry, gain more knowledge in those two areas, and share it.

  • What would be the ideal next step in my career? Think of the most important responsibilities you would want in your target job, as opposed to your current role. Focus on how you can develop your expertise in any areas that would enhance your ability to land that new job.  

Share Your Expertise 

Remember, sharing your knowledge and expertise is key, and this is achieved through  communications. The most effective communication methods include: 

  • Public Speaking:
    Seek out events and conferences where executives and recruiters in your industry go for continuing education, industry knowledge and professional networking. Conference planners are always in need of presenters as well as panelists, and you’ll usually get free or discounted access to other sessions.

  • Writing:
    Create articles to share on LinkedIn, answer questions on Quora, start your own blog, or seek out opportunities to contribute to blog or a trade publication.

    Because it is a network focused on career development and job opportunities, LinkedIn is incredibly important to you as a thought leader. In addition to hosting your professional profile, it provides a platform for posting long form posts, known as “Pulse.” This is an easy way to test the waters before launching your own blog. Here are a few Pulse article examples: 

  • Online/Social Media: When a recruiter is looking to fill a position, the first place the majority of them look is LinkedIn. If what they see interests them, they’ll likely Google you next. Make sure your online profile is ready; present a positive image by taking control of your online brand and all social media profiles, and update them to reflect your thought leadership focus.

    Next is interaction. Start by retweeting, sharing and commenting on posts and articles related to your thought leadership topic. In addition, all of your thought leadership activities should be promoted on social media. If you are featured in a vendor blog post or quoted in a trade publication, copy the URL and post it with a tailored comment. If you are speaking or appearing on a panel at an industry conference, post the information and encourage your colleagues to attend.

Related Video: How to Build Your Professional Brand


  • Professional Associations: If you are not already part of a professional association, join one. This is often the single best way become known in your industry. If you're already involved in a professional association, talk to the events chair about how to get on the calendar as a speaker or to join a n expert panel on stage. Take your committment to the next level by volunteering on a committee or serving on the board.
  • Media: Serving as an expert resource for members of the media will elevate your thought leader status. All the above tactics will make it easier for journalists to find you, but you can be more proactive by signing up as a source for expertise on Help a Reporter Out.

Becoming a thought leader requires some effort – particularly at first. Select one or two channels that most interest you and that fit into your schedule and commit to them for a few months. See which are the best to increase your visibility and help develop and elevate your thought leadership profile. Once recruiters and internal contacts start reaching out to you with job opportunities, that's a good indication that your efforts are successful.

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