Before I event start answering this question on LinkedIn branding and offer you some personal branding tips, I will tell you that I am going out on a limb on this one. I am going against what a lot of people are actually doing. You may think that I am crazy or just wrong, but my intention is only to help those that are unemployed with the best advice possible. You can take my advice or leave it. I welcome all opinions, but I do hope you will continue reading to the very end of this blog post to better understand me.
This question came recently from a LinkedIn/Twitter friend, and it is actually something that I almost put in my post of Favorite LinkedIn Pet Peeves yesterday. In essence, should I tell the world that I am looking for a job in my Profile Status box?
You will be able to read about my thought process in my upcoming LinkedIn book, which is nearing completion as we speak. But as a preview of what I plan to discuss in that book, you need to remember that everything that you do and do not include in your LinkedIn profile becomes your brand = how people perceive you. Is “unemployed” something that you want to include as part of your brand? My answer is “NO!” You want positive qualities associated with your brand. And whenever I see someone with a Status Update that says they are looking for a job, I want to tell them what I am about to tell you.
Now, I am not suggesting that you lie about your status. Obviously you want to tell your network, and if asked by a recruiter, that you are unemployed. But what I am saying is that the Status Update should be utilized differently in order to promote your brand.
For just a moment, let’s pretend that we are recruiters looking at LinkedIn profiles. Now, I am not nor have ever been a recruiter, but I have engaged with enough recruiters that I have a faint idea of how they work.
First of all, do you know how recruiters find you on LinkedIn? They search for you, of course, and if they are using LinkedIn recruiting solutions they are able to pin point and find you based on what is included in your LinkedIn profile. The key to being found? List as many companies as you can that you have worked for with accurate titles in your profile. And include those keywords that you want to be associated with in your profile. Simple enough.
But what happens after they search and find you and start looking at your profile? Recruiters want to see that you are happily employed. Why? Because, in a recent LinkedIn Poll, 60% of Recruiters said that passive candidates are better employees. And, furthermore, quoting from this same LinkedIn Blog post, “It’s a widely held belief that the best talent is employed,” and “if they are actively looking then maybe they are not as good, or not as loyal.”
I can tell you from the talent that I meet while networking that the above statements are absolutely and totally false. If you are talented and happen to be unemployed, the above types of comments obviously hurt and fill your heart with anger. There are so many reasons why someone loses their position or chooses to be unemployed. How can you lump all of these people together into one category of people and say they “are not as good?” It’s ridiculous. And it is discriminatory towards those that deserve better treatment.
Now, the above blog post was not the opinion of LinkedIn; it was merely the results of a LinkedIn Poll. So do not direct your anger at LinkedIn. In fact, we should be thanking LinkedIn, because they have provided us a service by telling those who are unemployed what they need to know: DO NOT ADVERTISE THE FACT THAT YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED. We cannot change the way that recruiters think about us. We can only play up to their expectations.
If you are unemployed, I understand the temptation to put that you are unemployed on your Status Update. But, just as you can easily waste your time sending out applications to positions that are hiring on the Internet and compete with the several hundred other applicants who saw the same advertisement, letting the world know that you are unemployed by broadcasting that fact in your Status Update is only diluting your brand and making you look like an active, not a passive, candidate. It is potentially lowering your value in the eyes of 60% of those recruiters in that poll.
What to do then? If you want to tell your friends and close LinkedIn connections that you are unemployed, do so over the phone or in person. Don’t use Social Media to broadcast it to 40 million other people.
Now, there may be people out there that have found a job by broadcasting the fact that they are unemployed just like there are always rare people who do find jobs on the Internet. But, in my opinion, based on the above evidence, it is always best to preserve your LinkedIn Brand and get out and meet new people to network with that may directly or indirectly lead you to your next lead in your job hunt. In fact, regardless of your employment status, you should always be networking and meeting people: dig your well before you are thirsty.
I rest my case on LinkedIn branding for the unemployed. Feel free, as always, to comment.