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Being #OpenToWork on LinkedIn is a bad idea, here are 3 things to do instead

Don't broadcast your unemployment, I mean do you want to tell everyone that you are single and open to any date out there?

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If 2019 was the year of shameless self-promotion on LinkedIn, 2020 is the year of being open for work. Our LinkedIn news feeds have changed from work selfies and employee of the month awards, to carefully created goodbye speeches and #OpenToWork posts passively asking connections to help in their job search. 

While the intention is good, the reaction to these public displays of job seeking hasn’t been thought through by the poster. If anything, job hunting should be treated like dating, you don’t want to be too available or too desperate, as otherwise it can leave the other person wondering why you are still on the market. Despite the recruitment industry trying to remove bias, it still plays a huge role in hiring for vacancies. Hellmann Career Consulting argues that employers might be turned off by the public display of #OpenToWork (also, is adding it to your picture really necessary?) and that there is a preference for candidates that aren’t seen to be actively looking. 

If a recruiter was to look at two candidates’ LinkedIn profile, one openingly advertising they ‘have been let go’ but were ‘thankful for the opportunity’, and the second profile discretely not mentioning it at all, which one would be the safer bet? Now imagine that the recruiter has 200 applicants to shortlist – you don’t have much time to make a favorable impression. 

It’s better to share your ‘available’ status with ‘recruiters only’ rather than the world, in the same way you don’t want to tell everyone that you are single and open to any date out there. Even if you really need a job, announcing it publicly is not going to help. Having a ‘care free’ profile will help you secure the date….I mean interview, and playing a little hard to get will make potential employers consider you as more of a catch. But while you are waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right Job there are some things you should be proactively doing to help yourself.

  1. Reach out privately

Reaching out privately to friends and connections is a lot more effective than reaching out publicly. While posting publicly seems an efficient way to let all of your contacts know that you are looking for work, it doesn’t hold anyone responsible for actually helping you. The Bystander Effect is a phenomenon discovered in the 1960s by psychologists John Darley and Bibb Latane. If everyone is called upon to help, it’s easy for individuals to assume someone else will step up and help. Even if one of your LinkedIn connections might be in a position to help, by broadcasting to everyone, you diminish your chances of anyone actually helping.

Make a list of 10 people that you have a good work relationship with. They can be friends, former colleagues or even people you met once at a networking event. Check their profiles and see if their current employer is hiring for a role you are qualified for. If so, reach out to them with a message and see if they would be able to help you with the application process. Some companies offer current employees a ‘finders fee’ if they refer someone who then gets the job, and most people are open to helping other people in any way they can right now. Make your message clear, but open – don’t expect them to get you an interview, but ask them for advice. And before you hit send, read your message as if they sent it; if you received your message, would you help you?

  1. Use your time strategically

If you’ve been furloughed or lost your job, your immediate focus is of course on finding a new job. However, sending out hundreds of applications everyday isn’t as helpful as sending out 5 excellent applications. Spending a morning rewriting your CV so you have 3 versions is much more useful than just sending out a generic CV. Depending on the role, consider the aesthetics and content of your CV too. An ugly resume font won’t win you any design roles, and a long list of websites built, or even images, will be more eye catching than one hyperlink to your online portfolio.

What did you do during Covid19 time?” is a question that should be considered, and weaving this into your CV could be a bonus point for recruiters. If you spent your lockdown beating your friends in Fifa 2020 or watching every series on Netflix, then you will need to start something now to compensate. Some people wrote their novels, took online classes in coding or analytics during their furlough time and are coming into the job market with more skills. Even if you spent that time caring for a family member or cultivating your garden, being able to answer this question with something worthwhile is essential.

  1. Try other recruitment sites

While LinkedIn is the work website, it is not the only site. Indeed, Glassdoor and Monster are all major job sites that charge less to advertise than LinkedIn. Also consider the smaller, niche sites like globalcharityjobs.com, angel.co/jobs or TEFL.com that specialise in jobs for one area of the market. These sites may have jobs that are not advertised on LinkedIn, or they may not have an Easy Apply function, which means your CV might not have as much competition.

For higher level roles, it might be worth paying for a recruiter to work with you. Recruiters have friends, connections and access to tools that regular employees don’t. Recruiters are also paid a bonus when they supply a good candidate to a company and that candidate is chosen. Why not have your own recruiter who will work for you and get a bonus when you are offered a job. 

Regardless if the current unemployment situation is just a blip in the market or part of a wider recession, individuals need to be proactive about their situation. Being #OpenForWork is great, but perhaps instead we should be #ReachingOutForWork.

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