A recently published career management author contacted me this week with a question. He’d noticed that more and more job seekers are announcing their unemployment in an obvious way on LinkedIn either in their headline or their summary or both. He was curious what I thought of this phenomenon and whether I believed this was problematic in any way. Unfortunately for these job seekers I believe this practice is quite problematic.
Here are three reasons why advertising your unemployed status on LinkedIn will harm your job search and your career management:
You’re Branding Your Unemployment Rather than Yourself
When you announce your unemployment in your LinkedIn headline or summary, you are inadvertently branding their unemployment rather than yourself. Since the 2008 recession some employers have announced they will no longer hire people who are unemployed — in my 30 years in the business I had never heard any of them admit that, let alone announce it like that to candidates. By showcasing your unemployment in a “loud” way you mark yourself as a candidate some employers will automatically dismiss. Is that the result you want for your job-hunt?
The LinkedIn Search Algorithm Favors the Employed
Another factor that many candidates don’t know is that LinkedIn essentially penalizes the unemployed since their algorithm favors those with current jobs. In other words, it’s to your advantage as a job seeker to find something legitimate to say in your first LinkedIn employment listing so you appear to be employed. There are a number of ways to do this. You can add a volunteer assignment as your current position, seek out a board role, list an ongoing project, highlight an entrepreneurial interest, or even list yourself as a consultant. Beware, though, that whatever you list you must be prepared to defend as legitimate in an interview.
You’re Drawing Attention Away from Your Achievements Rather Toward Them
If you’re currently unemployed, it’s imperative that you employ your brand and your achievements to attract employers rather than your employment status. This will not only attract more interviews in the long run, it will also position you for higher salaries longer term. Focus your headline on your career strengths, brand, and key words to “magnetize” recruiters and hiring executives to your LinkedIn profile.
I don’t believe that unemployment is anything to be ashamed of or hide, but in today’s economic climate it isn’t wise to advertise it unnecessarily. Rather than attempting to use your employment status to attract attention, why not lead with your strengths, experience, credentials, and achievements instead?