Your LinkedIn Profile Name – Active Job Seeker. The Right Strategy for the Unemployed?

LinkedIn continues to be flooded by the unemployed and executive job seekers.  This is not a new phenomenon, as everyone knows that all of the headhunters and recruiters are active on LinkedIn: establishing an intelligent LinkedIn presence with a consistent brand is free and invaluable career insurance that you can never have enough of.  I’d like to write today on the new tactics that I see being taken by some aggressive job seekers and comment on their effectiveness (or lack thereof).

Since I am a LinkedIn LION, I get more than my share of LinkedIn invitations.  And since many of the unemployed are joining open networking groups like TopLinked and connecting with group members like myself, I receive a lot of invitations from those in transition.  So it surprised me a few weeks ago when I received a LinkedIn invitation from someone who’s name was “FIRST LAST – Active Job Seeker.”  I had seen “Active Job Seeker” as part of someone’s Profile Headline, and I have already blogged about not broadcasting your unemployment status in your Status Update.  But to have it as part of your name is something that really caught my eye.

Well, someone must have written a blog post or spoke about this practice and recommended it to their followers, because since then I have received a steady stream of these invitations with people who add “Active Job Seeker” to their name.  And I really wonder why whoever is recommending this practice is doing so.  I think it is the wrong strategy for LinkedIn job seekers for the following reasons:

  1. “Active Job Seeker” is now part of your brand.  Your brand should differentiate yourself in the job market, but in a positive and strategic way.  Do you want to be perceived as a successful executive with a great track record in specific functions in certain industries?  Or do you want people to just think that you are a job seeker?  The difference in the way people will perceive your brand is huge and most likely not to your advantage.
  2. By broadcasting the fact that you are an “Active Job Seeker,” you have now just devalued your brand.  Think about it: there is an entire industry of recruiters and headhunters that believe that “Passive Job Seekers” are more valuable than “Active Job Seekers.” You can’t hide the fact that you’re unemployed, but do you need to brand yourself with your current situation?
  3. It’s socially awkward.  Would you walk into a networking meeting with a “For Sale” sign hanging from your neck?  I don’t see any difference in actively portraying yourself as an Active Job Seeker as part of your name.
  4. You are not found on LinkedIn in this fashion.  And if you are found it may be for the sole fact that you are unemployed.  How do recruiters find you?  Not by looking at your name.  By doing keyword searches, looking at past companies, your education, your successes.  If a recruiter finds you by searching for “Active Job Seeker,” that job may not be something that you’re looking for.  Let’s look at a similar situation that I have experienced: If you are a sales executive and post your resume on Monster or Career Builder, many insurance companies and financial planners will contact you regardless of your past industry just because you are in sales and are unemployed.  You are not attracting the people that you want to contact you.
  5. It violates the LinkedIn User Agreement.  Although it is not the same as having a telephone number next to your name, adding the term “Active Job Seeker” clearly, “adds to a content field content that is not intended for such field (i.e. submitting a telephone number in the “title” or any other field).”

I am not proposing that you lie if you are unemployed.  Simply updating your LinkedIn Profile focusing on your branding is sufficient.

There is no need to brand yourself with the fact that you are in transition.

What do you think?  Leave your comment and let’s continue the conversation.

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Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
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Comments

  1. says

    Well now that everybody is saying “Active Job Seeker” than yes, I agree, no need to shout it to the world. But if you can be the first to come up with a unique way of saying the same thing, I see no reason not to do it. Make yourself stand out, that's the key.

  2. rcarsia says

    Elementary my dear Watson…and absolutely correct. And… for the next few years, when someone searches your name it will come up as “job seeker extraordinaire”. Not good.

  3. rcarsia says

    Unfortunetly, there seems to be more 'active job seekers' then people who actually have jobs. Now, you have simply become a commodity. Unlike age discrimination (ageism), you can avoid this common mistake. Become a 'consultant'. That's much better then 'active job seeker', although both could be construed as synonomous.
    Just a thought.

  4. says

    Excellent point for discussion. Very interesting.

    I have also seen those “active job seeker” labels attached to LinkedIn profiles wonder if there a way to let people know you’re looking for work, without that being the very first impression.

    As you suggest, job seekers need to stay true to their personal brand while networking. Identifying oneself as a job seeker…rather than a “trusted strategic advisor to global leaders in the telecom sector” (for example) de-values their offering.

    My thoughts are that jobseekers engage with people online and lead with “trusted strategic advisor to global leaders in the telecom sector….” Once a relationship begins, the conversation can then turn towards “…and I'm currently looking for opportunities to meet with the CEO of ABC company.” (for example)

    Great points. Look forward to reading others' comments.

  5. says

    I was using the phrase “Seeking full time marketing/PR coordinator position” but instead changed to “Increasing visibility & SEO by using Social Media strategy mixed with PR. #journchat Live Detroit organizer.” Not sure if that is better or not.

  6. oscarfrench says

    Hi Nael,

    I clearly agree that branding it self as unemployed will create a really awkward feeling on recruiters. I'm from france and work in the us and market myself as “Oscar French” on linkedin or bizcards. It worked pretty well so far. Playing with first and last name is tricky and your suggestions of using the status update semms to me a better option. Do you have any recommendation on stuts update by the way, frequency, content, links or not…?

    thks,

    Oscar French
    http://www.yellowbox-studio.com

  7. says

    A lot of people in transition do use the “consultant” brand, but unless you have actual customers that you are consulting, this could create more problems than it solves. Just my two cents…

  8. says

    Thanks Oscar. That's an interesting “brand” that you have…I will have to tell my friend Justin French who's actual last name is France but is not French!!!

    As for the Status Update, my recommendations are:

    Frequency – at most once a day, otherwise it irritates others because your updates get broadcasted to their wall

    Content – Anything that adds value to your brand.

    Links – Sure, if it helps your brand.

    I hope my answers above weren't too simple, but I don't see the Status Update as being where you need to spend a lot of time on…just use it when you have something to tell people from a professional perspective that will help your brand.

    Looking forward to your future contributions!

    - Neal

  9. says

    Hey Jamie! Good to see you here ;-) I like you new Profile Headline as it shows the benefits a potential employer may have if they hire you as well as shows that you are savvy with social media. It showcases your strengths and will be better SEO for your job search!

  10. drbrucehoag says

    Ever since “employers” stopped offering a “job for life,” nearly everyone has been an independent contractor by definition. Independent contractors work contracts. They work them from the beginning date to the ending date. Nothing is implied that the work will go beyond the ending date. There was a time when people worked for one company for their entire careers; but these days are over. Therefore, we need to stop pretending that things will ever go back to that.

    You're an entrepreneur, whether you like it or not. Start thinking and acting like it. If you knew that you'd never be “employed” again, what would you do? What business would you start? These are the questions you should be asking yourself.

  11. says

    Yeah its a true fact, if any one uses linkedin they can see these kind of names. There are lots of job openings, but companies can be selective, and depending on the need, one can take their time in finding the right candidate. So instead of broadcasting their unemployed status in their names they can show their names and provide their qualities in their profile.

  12. says

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for the comment and I agree that those old days are over. I spoke yesterday at a Twitter conference telling everyone that they WILL change jobs at one point in their career, and so they need to start proactively managing their online brand. You are your own company now, which implies that you need to start thinking like an entrepreneur whether you like it or not. While I still think this can be done within the context of looking for a job, I agree that people in transition should start thinking more “entrepreneurial” and finding something outside of a “normal” job. It's a better strategy than branding oneself as “unemployed” and waiting for things to happen.

  13. says

    Hi Therese,

    Thanks for the comment. I am assuming that this is what your Professional Headline, not your Name, reads. Professional Headline section of your LinkedIn profile is the most important “brandable” part of your profile, so this is the place to be creative and experiment. My own two-cent suggestions for your headline:

    - If you are already using your Cleveland zip code on your LinkedIn Profile, you may not need to put “Cleveland, OH” in your headline. Recruiters will often search using zip codes when looking for someone in a regional area, so you may be able to use the real estate here more effectively.

    - Once again, I personally would not put “seeking position” in my Professional Headline for the same reason I would not put “Active Job Seeker” next to my name. The exact same reasons that I articulated in my blog post also apply here.

    Do these suggestions make sense? I would love to better understand your reasoning if you feel otherwise.

    - Neal

  14. markawilliams says

    Neal,
    I was pleased to see you post this, I hadn't made comment publicly because I figured it must be a cultural difference between the US and UK – perhaps not!
    I too have had at least 10 invitations like this – they had clearly all been on the same course or seminar, I was intrigued to find out who was giving this advice and it turns out to be Greig Wells – I have seen some of Grieg's material before and he does seem to take a different line to most Linkedin experts.
    My view is simple – putting anything else in your surname field in unnecessary (that is what the headline is for) and putting 'active job seeker' just makes you look desperate! A real turn off for most recruiters (I was one for 19 years) and can only do damage to your personal reputation.
    That said, I replied to every invite from the 'active job seeker' family (Mr & Mrs Active Job Seeker must have been very busy!) asking them why they had taken this step and who had advised them – the one that bothered to reply did say the the strategy had really worked for her so I guess we shouldnt knock it if it works.

  15. TSchustrich says

    Thanks Neal!

    Coming from the staffing industry and given our current economic conditions, I would agree that putting “Active Job Seeker” can be somewhat negative, however, there are so many “experts” on LinkedIn that I've heard many different opinions on what is right and wrong and what recruiters look for and for many, it can be confusing. 
    I do agree that it shouldn't be in the name area.

    I will give it some more thought and see if I can approach my tagline different.  Thanks!
     Therese M. Schustrich
    (330) 554-4158
    http://www.thereseschustrich.com
    NEW – BLOG – http://thereseschustrich.wordpress.com/2009/09/
    LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/thereseschustrich

    “To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” — Anatole France

    ________________________________

  16. says

    Thanks for the comment Mark…we're not all that different across the Atlantic! Interesting news about Grieg…I have yet to communicate with him, but there is definitely not one single right answer in social media, so diversity is expected and absolutely encouraged.

    I agree with your view 100%. The strategy may have worked for one person, but 1) would they have gotten a job without doing that and 2) did they get the most that their brand was worth?

    - Neal

  17. says

    Hey Therese,

    There is no one right or wrong answer. I tried to offer my own analysis which I hope you believe has valuable. With so many active job seekers, I can't see recruiters going through LinkedIn doing an “active job seeker” search to look for people. And if they were doing that, you'd better believe that the positions may have high turnaround or lowball salaries. Just my two-cent opinion…

    - Neal

  18. says

    Thank you, Neal, for your great article.

    Although I didn't have “JOB SEEKER” in my title (and I agree about it being a TOS issue) I did have (LION) in my last name instead of my headline. I looked at my main entry and realized I was branding myself as “AGS Technician”. What the heck is that?

    Because of your article, I reappraised my “Professional Headline” to better reflect my skills, experience and the position I am looking for. I was disappointed that it is limited in number of characters, but I believe my new headline will create enough interest to have them look further at my summary, where I go into better detail. (However, if anyone has a better branding headline, I will be happy to consider it)

    Again, thanks for the continuing effort you put into Windmill Networking and keep up the great work.

    Sincerely
    Earl Gately
    http://www.linkedin.com/in/earlgately

  19. KarenRosser says

    Great blog! You are right – no one should immediately brand themselves as unemployed. But with more than seven million looking for work in the U.S., it is more than a little frightening that so many recruiters value passive over active job seekers. It is an age-old phenomenon that everyone, including recruiters and employers, wants what they cannot have, or not have easily anyway – the thrill of the hunt, I guess. Thanks for the valuable information.

    A side note question: Any downside to being listed as a “former employee” within a company's profile?

  20. says

    Thanks for the comment Earl. Yes, I also used to have “LION” as part of my Professional Headline, but I also thought that that wasn't the best way to represent my brand. It's all about how you want to be perceived in the market.

    - Neal

  21. says

    Thanks for the blog compliment. As for your question about being listed as a former employee, this is something that LinkedIn is automatically adding into the Companies Profile based on your information. I don't think there is a downside because it represents reality, just as your profile should. In fact, if a smaller company was looking to poach talent from a larger company where you are a former employee, it may just work to your advantage. No guarantees, of course!

    - Neal

  22. says

    Thanks for the comment Earl. Yes, I also used to have “LION” as part of my Professional Headline, but I also thought that that wasn't the best way to represent my brand. It's all about how you want to be perceived in the market.

    - Neal

  23. says

    Thanks for the blog compliment. As for your question about being listed as a former employee, this is something that LinkedIn is automatically adding into the Companies Profile based on your information. I don't think there is a downside because it represents reality, just as your profile should. In fact, if a smaller company was looking to poach talent from a larger company where you are a former employee, it may just work to your advantage. No guarantees, of course!

    - Neal

  24. says

    The thing that makes me shake my head to this strategy of announcing to the world you're a Job Seeker, is it is not Active. Social media is not SEO, and SEO is over hyped anyway (it also being passive, waiting for technology to bring on in all the opportunities while you sit back and do nothing but hope – clearly an exaggeration, but…)

    Social Media is a free and open communication tool, not a panacea and not a pseudo evolution of the job board (post and hope) in this area.

    It's people who hire people and here you have in you hands a communication and agreed protocol for approaching almost anyone who uses Social Media, and you want to sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you!? *shakes head* (see)

    While I'm on it, Recruiters are paid by companies to find exact (as possible) match Candidates for roles – not to get people Jobs. Sure, research who are the best in your area of expertise, gain confidence in which recruiters to approach and do approach them, but relying on Recruiters is again a passive way to find a job (still effective for some, many in fact, and I'm not saying take it out of a Job search strategy).

    Social Media is a Conversation – get out there and communicate! Reach out, build relationships, show value, and over time, yes time, make sure those people you connect with know how they can help you. (ie. meet people who work for, or might lead you to <insert specifically researched company, individual you want to meet> for example. DON'T just tell people 'I'm looking for a job'. Be specific, keywords, companies and individual's names in line with your strategy to get the exact role you want or close to it).

    Seeking a job in these times might be harder than in the past… to sit back and have it come to you (or never be out of work in the first place), but what an opportunity we have now to go out and make it happen for ourselves.

    And yes, the role I have now came directly from social media networking, engaging my business network, online yes but then in person, and it was a pop up chat from a connection that lead to me getting the contract I now have.

  25. says

    Jason, thank you for your passionate and excellent comment. Indeed, if social media is a continuing conversation, it are blog comments like yours that enliven the conversation and also add new insight for everyone, which I am sincerely grateful for. I agree that it's all about communicating. There is something to be said for the “inbound marketing” of optimizing your LinkedIn profile, but in life we can never wait for things to happen and instead should be proactively building out our networks by networking outside of our networks…which is what the whole concept of Windmill Networking is all about.

    Thanks again, Jason, and I do hope to meet you in Japan on my next trip out your way!

  26. says

    Oh, yes. Didn't mean to forget the importance of your LinkedIn or other profile/presentation to the world. If that is not right the conversation, the access to the people you hope to will not happen!

    Thanks for all of your excellent articles Neal. SO sorry I missed somehow, your last visit to Japan.

    NEXT TIME, lets catch up in person. Indeed I love this part of connecting with new people online the most – meeting them in person and getting to know who they are, sharing how we might do some stuff together where we have rapport, possible synergy!

  27. says

    The thing that makes me shake my head to this strategy of announcing to the world you're a Job Seeker, is it is not Active. Social media is not SEO, and SEO is over hyped anyway (it also being passive, waiting for technology to bring on in all the opportunities while you sit back and do nothing but hope – clearly an exaggeration, but…)

    Social Media is a free and open communication tool, not a panacea and not a pseudo evolution of the job board (post and hope) in this area.

    It's people who hire people and here you have in you hands a communication and agreed protocol for approaching almost anyone who uses Social Media, and you want to sit back and wait for opportunities to come to you!? *shakes head* (see)

    While I'm on it, Recruiters are paid by companies to find exact (as possible) match Candidates for roles – not to get people Jobs. Sure, research who are the best in your area of expertise, gain confidence in which recruiters to approach and do approach them, but relying on Recruiters is again a passive way to find a job (still effective for some, many in fact, and I'm not saying take it out of a Job search strategy).

    Social Media is a Conversation – get out there and communicate! Reach out, build relationships, show value, and over time, yes time, make sure those people you connect with know how they can help you. (ie. meet people who work for, or might lead you to <insert specifically researched company, individual you want to meet> for example. DON'T just tell people 'I'm looking for a job'. Be specific, keywords, companies and individual's names in line with your strategy to get the exact role you want or close to it).

    Seeking a job in these times might be harder than in the past… to sit back and have it come to you (or never be out of work in the first place), but what an opportunity we have now to go out and make it happen for ourselves.

    And yes, the role I have now came directly from social media networking, engaging my business network, online yes but then in person, and it was a pop up chat from a connection that lead to me getting the contract I now have.

  28. says

    Jason, thank you for your passionate and excellent comment. Indeed, if social media is a continuing conversation, it are blog comments like yours that enliven the conversation and also add new insight for everyone, which I am sincerely grateful for. I agree that it's all about communicating. There is something to be said for the “inbound marketing” of optimizing your LinkedIn profile, but in life we can never wait for things to happen and instead should be proactively building out our networks by networking outside of our networks…which is what the whole concept of Windmill Networking is all about.

    Thanks again, Jason, and I do hope to meet you in Japan on my next trip out your way!

  29. says

    Oh, yes. Didn't mean to forget the importance of your LinkedIn or other profile/presentation to the world. If that is not right the conversation, the access to the people you hope to will not happen!

    Thanks for all of your excellent articles Neal. SO sorry I missed somehow, your last visit to Japan.

    NEXT TIME, lets catch up in person. Indeed I love this part of connecting with new people online the most – meeting them in person and getting to know who they are, sharing how we might do some stuff together where we have rapport, possible synergy!

  30. Bruno Almeida says

    Hi there, I’m trying to realize what to do… I’m leaving a very IT company and I don’t have alternative for now. So what is your advice? Presently I’m maintain my profile like I’m still an employed, but it’s true. My afraid is not get many interviews or chances if I updated to the wrong way… What should I put?

    • says

      Hi Bruno, I don’t think there is one “right” answer. My personal advice would be to keep your branding as is, but add in your summary that you are open to new opportunities. Remember that your profile serves you two purposes: The inbound (where recruiters find you) and the outbound (where you contact hiring managers). It is the outbound that you will need to do, and it will be most effective, in my opinion, if you keep your profile intact as is when contacting them. Hope this makes sense – please feel free to add additional questions should you have them!

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