LinkedIn: Updating When You’re Unemployed

I’m frequently asked by my clients how soon to update their LinkedIn profiles when they are no longer employed. That’s why I read with interest a post from the Wall Street Journal’s “Ask At Work” blog. The question involved how soon after leaving a company should one update their LinkedIn profile, especially in light of a bias by recruiters for people who are currently employed.

The answer to me is, it depends. I do believe that honesty is the best policy, but I also believe the world is not black and white and there are extenuating circumstances. For instance, some executives are retained by companies as consultants to ensure a smooth transition, while others are still on the payroll due to their severance packages. In each of those instances you might want to keep the box checked that you’re still with the company. Why, because there is still a bias against people who are unemployed.

This is in opposition to the post.  The author refers to Nona K. Footz, managing director of executive recruiting firm RSR Partners. According to Footz, in the past recruiters often passed on candidates who were “on the beach” (A.K.A. out of work). “But the market has changed, and as long as there is a positive story as to why you were let go, you should not be afraid to be transparent with your situation.”

I commend Ms. Footz for being open minded with her recruiting candidates, but have spoken with several recruiters who’ve confided in me that they prefer candidates who are currently employed. While there are some exceptions among recruiters, like Ms. Footz, who understand that the current economic conditions have left some very talented people on the market, for the most part, the bias still exists.

Ms. Footz also says, “it looks worse if a recruiter calls you thinking you’re still at Company X and you have to break the news that you’ve left.” I disagree. The goal is to get the call and once you have the recruiter on the line, you have control over telling your transparent story while building rapport with the recruiter.

The post also suggests that you should update your profile immediately with the information that you are no longer employed so your network can be your eyes and ears and refer jobs to you. However, if you’re actively using LinkedIn (actively being the operative word here), you can still reach out to your network and achieve excellent results.

Finally, should you use the months and years indicating the time you worked or just the years. Again, it depends. Which makes you look more appealing? LinkedIn is your marketing brochure, using either months and years or just the years are both being truthful, but you need to go with whichever tells the better story about you. Remember, its about being honest but also about being smart with the goal of getting the phone to ring.


LinkedIn: New One-Click Skills Endorsements

LinkedIn recently introduced a new feature on its site, one-click skills and expertise endorsements. Now you can go to a friend or colleague’s profile find the skills and expertise area and click on a listed skill (or even add some skills or other areas of expertise that aren’t yet listed). This new feature makes it very easy to endorse your connection on LinkedIn. Think of it as LinkedIn’s version of a Facebook “Like”.

This is very different from a recommendation on LinkedIn. A recommendation requires that your connection actually sit down and take the time and energy to write a thoughtful and articulate testimonial regarding your work and performance. For a recruiter or decision-maker reviewing a job candidate’s profile, the recommendations can give additional insight into a prospective candidate’s background.

The ease of the one-click skills endorsement begs the question of how much weight someone reading the profile will give to these “likes” on LinkedIn. To me, gathering these endorsements is reminiscent of Valentine’s Day back in elementary school. Do you remember (I know, for some of us this goes back a little ways) running home with your little cardboard box filled with Valentine’s and counting and comparing with your friends how many Valentine’s you’d received. Most with “Roses are red, violets are blue . . .” not exactly the quality love notes we come to expect as adults from a single special admirer.

Which brings me to my point, quantity versus quality. Are we just becoming a one-click “Like” world and moving away from quality assessments that actually add value and insight into a person’s background and capabilities. I’d love to hear from recruiters and HR professionals on their feelings regarding the new one-click endorsements and how much they will impact their decisions in contacting potential candidates.


Quick Tip: During a Job Search, No News is Good News

The Career Coach Quick TipWe’ve made it through one great recession and now some are saying we’re teetering on the verge of another. Having worked with hundreds of clients during these tough economic times (and close to 1,000 throughout my coaching career), my advice is to be choosy about how much attention you pay to the news.

Why? Because for some, it’s just too discouraging. When in the midst of a job search, it can undermine your attitude, leaving you with the thought of “why bother, there’s nothing out there anyway.” But even in what has been an incredibly tight job market, my clients are landing new and higher paying positions. They’re not listening to all the doom and gloom, they’re setting their sights on their target, using creative strategies and achieving their goals.

Ironically, one highly effective strategy is reacting to the news. Paying attention to what’s going on with companies in the market and using that intelligence to strategically reach out to executives with thoughts and suggestions of how you may be of help to them. So while the title of this Quick Tip says no news is good news, some news can lead you down the road to prosperity.

~ Linda