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.


4 Tips to Leverage LinkedIn

LinkedInI’m on LinkedIn, now what? That’s a question I hear from time to time. Or, I’ve filled out my profile on LinkedIn and nothing is happening. Those are comments from passive job seekers, those that are sitting back and waiting to be “discovered.”

LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job seekers, but like any tool, it takes more than just having it in your toolbox, you have to use it. First, you should optimize your LinkedIn profile with your most marketable attributes and skill sets. Include quantifiable successes, key words, a professional picture, recommendations and make sure your profile is 100% complete. For some people, with skills that are in high demand, just having a great profile on LinkedIn can be enough because recruiters do use LinkedIn to mine for candidates.

However, if you’re truly interested in making a career move and doing so in a timely manner it takes time and effort. Spending quality time on LinkedIn can lead to a rewarding position. The following are four tips your competitors who are waiting to be “discovered” are not doing:

1. Build your professional network.

Once you’ve perfected your profile now’s the time to show it off. Reach out to friends, colleagues, alumni, and acquaintances. It’s not necessarily about the quantity of your connections, it’s more about the quality. True, having a lot of connections will give you more information when you run searches on LinkedIn, but having quality connections who you can reach out to for introductions is more effective when you’re trying to network into a company.

2. Use the Advanced Searches.

When you see a job posting anywhere, your first step should be to run an advanced search on LinkedIn and see if your connected to someone at that company. It is about who you know to get your foot in the door. But more importantly, LinkedIn is best if utilized to target the unpublished market by networking. If you’re serious about finding a job, you should be using LinkedIn to build your network and target the unpublished job market.

3. Target and follow companies for whom you’d like to work.

Use the advanced search to target companies and identify people at those companies to connect with. Also, if you follow companies where you’d like to work you’ll see their posted activities including job openings or updates about their business that may inspire you to reach out to them regardless of whether they have an opening. Yes, companies will create positions for the right candidate.

4. Participate in Groups.

You can expand your network on LinkedIn by joining groups in your area of interest and asking to connect to other group members. Additionally, by participating in group discussions you can show off your expertise and become recognized in your industry.

Remember, just having a hammer and some nails won’t get that house built, like everything worthwhile, it takes applying yourself thoughtfully and intentionally to build a solid career.

Linda Lupatkin – The Imagemakers, Ink! LLC – Resumes, Bios, Career Coaching and Consulting