What to Put on LinkedIn When You Are Unemployed

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When you’re unemployed, updating your LinkedIn profile can get complicated in a hurry. What should you list for your professional headline and current position when you are between jobs? After all, the purpose of updating your profile is to attract prospective employers. Choosing the wrong content could drive hiring managers away instead of attracting them.

Fortunately, there are a lot of options for dealing with your employment status on your LinkedIn profile - and not all of them require you to announce to the world that you're unemployed. There are ways of handling the situation that make it clear you're looking for work, without being obvious about the fact that you're out of work.

It’s also easy to update social media, which means that you have the freedom to try various options and see how they land with recruiters and hiring managers. If you're not getting good results, you can try something different.

What to Include in Your LinkedIn Profile When You're Unemployed

Above all, it's important to be honest, because it's easy for potential employers to check your background when they are considering you for employment. Options for when you're out of work include stating it in your profile, or not mentioning it at all.

Should You Update Your LinkedIn Profile – Or Not?

A simple option is to put an end date on your last position and not add a new one. That way your profile is technically correct and you're not highlighting your unemployed status.

Krista Canfield, former Senior PR Manager at LinkedIn, has suggestions on what to include in your LinkedIn profile and for updating your status when you're out of work: “If you're currently unemployed, you could list your current position as ‘Open to opportunities.’”

You could also consider updating your status field in your profile, so your network knows that you're looking for a job.

You could post a status update with, "Currently looking for a finance position. Do you know anyone who's hiring?" or "I am interested in freelance opportunities. Let me know if someone in your network needs help writing or editing." It's a quick and easy way to let folks you're connected with know that you could use their help.

Canfield notes,"One member of ours was unfortunately laid off, so he updated his status to show he was currently looking for a new position. He was able to find a new job within seven business days of being laid off because someone in his network knew someone who was hiring."

On the flip side, you may not want to advertise the fact that you're unemployed. Instead, you can present yourself as a professional without mentioning the fact that you're out of work. There are options you can use that will show you're looking, without stating publicly why you're seeking employment.

LinkedIn Professional Headline Examples

If you want to mention that you're available, without going into details, one of the best options is to share your expertise in your professional headline. For example:

  • Business Analyst
  • Customer Service Specialist
  • Data Scientist
  • Digital Media Strategy
  • Editor in Chief
  • Event Manager
  • Experienced Marketing Manager
  • Freelance Marketer and Writer
  • Leadership Coach
  • Project + Product Management
  • Product Manager
  • Sales Strategist
  • Social Media Manager
  • Software Engineer
  • Special Projects Coordinator
  • Technical Support Associate
  • Virtual Assistant

If you decide to mention that you're looking for a new job and you'd like the help of your network, here are some examples of what to list:

  • Actively Seeking Employment
  • Available for Employment
  • Available for New Opportunities
  • Seeking a New Opportunity
  • Operations Logistic Professional Seeking Work
  • Experienced Retail Manager Available for New Opportunity
  • Former VP HR, Seeking New Human Resources Opportunities
  • Marketing Professional in Transition
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Currently Exploring Options
  • Recent College Graduate Seeking Entry-Level Programming Position

LinkedIn Current Position Examples

Listing your current position can be a dilemma, as well. The simplest option is not to list a current employer. I've seen many profiles that list "Unemployed" or"Seeking New Position" as the company name, but then you're advertising the fact that you're out of a job. If you're doing freelance or consulting work, another option is to list your company as "Self-employed."

Here are some examples:

  • Open to Opportunities at Seeking New Position
  • Consultant at Self-Employed
  • Freelance Writer at Self-Employed
  • Student at College.edu
  • Recent Graduate at College.edu
  • Seeking a Position at Unemployed
  • Looking for a job in Human Resources at Unemployed

Avoiding Employer Bias

Unfortunately, there can be bias in the workplace against unemployed job seekers. Many hiring managers persist in giving preference to candidates who are currently employed, despite the fact that if the recession taught us anything, it’s that even the best workers can lose their jobs.

If this is a concern for you, consider not listing a current job or listing your current position as “Self-employed.” You can also list yourself as looking for work immediately after losing your job, and then switch to “Self-employed” if your initial announcement doesn’t draw the kinds of offers you’re looking for.

When You Left Your Job Voluntarily

If you left your position voluntarily, you might decide to make that clear to employers. The best way to do that is to clarify your situation in your position descriptions. Here are examples:

Current Position Description
Actively seeking new opportunities after voluntarily leaving my last stint at HSBC with a long record of success and solid recommendations (see below).

Past Position Description
Left job voluntarily in excellent standing with a track record of success and excellent recommendations (see below).

Options for Not Updating Your Profile

One option for getting around listing the fact that you're unemployed is to leave your LinkedIn profile as is, without updating it. Even though it's not accurate, and could possibly be an issue for a prospective employer, it doesn't advertise the fact that you're out of work. It's also the easiest solution, especially on a short-term basis. If you line up a new job quickly, you can simply add that position to your profile.

The idea here is to make it appear as if you had “forgotten” to update your profile.

Of course, if you choose this option, you should always be honest when interacting with recruiters and hiring managers, once they contact you.

There’s a big difference between “forgetting” to update your social media and lying on a resume or during a conversation with a prospective employer.

Polish Your Profile

Regardless of the option you choose for your current status, be sure to take some time to make sure your LinkedIn profile is robust and reflects the highlights of your career, to date. When you're editing, you can turn off "activity broadcasts" so you're not advertising the changes. That's especially important if you're leaving your old employment information on your profile.

Take a look at the picture you're using and decide if it reflects the professional you. If not, consider updating the image you're using. Your picture is the first thing networking contacts and employers who are sourcing candidates are going to notice, so make sure it's a good one. Consider using the same professional image on all of your work-related social accounts. Being consistent across platforms is a way to boost your personal brand.

Do you have a custom LinkedIn URL? If not, it's quick and easy to get one that you can add to your resume and share with employers.

Finally, double-check that the information in your LinkedIn profile matches your resume. Are your dates of employment (other than the one you are "forgetting to update" for now) correct? How about company names, job titles, and your educational achievements? Be sure that what you list on LinkedIn matches the information that's on your resume.