LinkedIn Profile Tips to Help with Job Searching When You’re Unemployed
By now, it’s clear that if you’re job searching you must be on LinkedIn. For those who remain employed while job searching, having a LinkedIn profile allows you to share your recent professional experiences and credentials with prospective employers, but for the unemployed there can be hesitation. The way that the LinkedIn profile is set up, it makes it easy for employers to see your current employment status. No job seeker wants to broadcast that they are unemployed, knowing that bias exists.
The fact is many employers do give preference to candidates who are employed over the unemployed. There’s the mentality that the employed are more qualified and that they’ll have a fresher skill set than the unemployed. So, for someone who’s unemployed it’s understandable that questions arise on how to present information on the LinkedIn profile. Questions like: How should I present my employment status? Do I leave the section on Current Position blank? While there are vulnerabilities to being unemployed, there are ways around it when it comes to the LinkedIn profile.
Don’t let your unemployment status define who you are and what you’re capable of doing as a professional. Here are ways to project a more confident and competent professional image through your LinkedIn profile (when unemployed):
Just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean your LinkedIn profile headline needs to read “Unemployed.” By default, LinkedIn will use your current position’s title as your headline. If you are unemployed, go ahead and put an end date to your last employer if you haven’t already done so. Next, add a new experience as if you were employed to describe yourself professionally. For example, your new job title can read: “IT Systems Administrator Open to Opportunities.” This informs prospective employers who you are as a professional without saying outright that you’re unemployed. Another option is to add information on current volunteer work you may be doing, especially if it’s directly relevant to your professional work. To understand more on why the Headline matters, read: “See Things from the Employer’s Side: What Happens When You Apply for a Job on LinkedIn.”
Current Employer Details
Since you are adding a new experience to your LinkedIn profile, it’s important to complete the rest of the information in that section. Under Company (Employer), you can indicate “Self-Employed.” Where you describe your current experience, use it as an opportunity to write 1-2 lines about yourself. If you left your last job on good terms, whether it be because of a layoff or that you left voluntarily, indicate it as well as highlight your track record of professional accomplishments and that you are actively seeking new opportunities.
Professional Profile Image
If it’s been a while since you last updated your profile image or if you never bothered to add one, update it now. Hiring managers are more likely to access your LinkedIn profile with one than without one. As a job seeker, present an image that shows you in professional attire and with your face shown clearly. The profile image should present you as how you appear now. Employers will have associated your face with your name and if you were to appear drastically different for the in-person interview, it can throw your interviewer off.
Update Your Status
For professionals who are well connected and have a strong network of contacts, it can be especially beneficial to update your LinkedIn profile status to indicate you are looking for a position and in what field/industry. Informing your network can lead to immediate opportunities to pursue.
Leave the LinkedIn Profile Alone
Under some circumstances job seekers can opt to not update their employment status on LinkedIn. If you’re not applying for jobs directly with your LinkedIn profile, this should not be a major issue because it’ll just come off as though you haven’t had a chance to update your profile. However, if you are using your LinkedIn profile to apply to jobs, some employers can view your lack in effort to update your employment status as deceptive. There’s a fine line to balance when choosing to not update your employment status on your LinkedIn profile. In some instances, holding off on an update can help you avoid any possible bias that may come from employers who give preference to the employed candidates. You need to determine if it’s a reasonable risk you want to take. Factor the length of time that has gone by since your unemployment and how you are using your LinkedIn profile to help in your job search efforts.
What you put on your LinkedIn profile can essentially be open for everyone to view. There are vulnerabilities especially for the unemployed, but LinkedIn can more likely help your job search than hurt it when you project yourself as a confident and competent professional. For more on using LinkedIn, read: “LinkedIn Changes Job Seekers Need to Know About.” For additional help with building your professional brand, read: “3 Tips to Personal Branding and Securing Your Next Job.”