Shssh: Don’t put ‘looking for work’ in your LinkedIn title

Jul 28, 2020

6 mins

Shssh: Don’t put ‘looking for work’ in your LinkedIn title
Cristina Fernández

Periodista Freelance

If you’re looking for a job but you’re not on LinkedIn, you’re not doing yourself any favors. The platform is one of the key places to find contacts who can open up job opportunities. So it might seem like a good idea if you are unemployed to make it obvious that you are looking for work by mentioning it in your profile. Wrong. In fact, doing so could have a negative effect on your prospects. That’s why it is important to understand how companies, recruiters, and headhunters search for candidates on the platform. To do this, we spoke to Aurora Pulido, a professional development coach, and specialist in marketing strategies on LinkedIn, who explained what you should put in your LinkedIn headline to attract recruiters.

First things first: an up-to-date profile

Aurora Pulido is blunt in highlighting the importance of LinkedIn in relation to the development of your career: “If you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist as a professional,” she said.

Nowadays few people doubt the need to create a profile on this network if you want to progress professionally––particularly if you are looking for a job. LinkedIn allows you to view notices about job openings, expand your network of contacts and record your career and professional achievements. It is also where many companies go when looking for talent.

So it is not surprising that one of the first things many people do after losing their job is to update their LinkedIn profile. Just be wary of being overly frank when saying that you are open to being considered for new posts. A big mistake many people make is to dedicate the headline of their LinkedIn profile to saying that they are unemployed, looking for work, or “seeking new challenges”.

What to consider when writing your title on LinkedIn

1. Your title is the first thing seen on your profile

Your name, photograph, and headline are the first elements that are seen when you appear in a search. So the title has the potential to attract the interest of a recruiter. “If they like your headline, they will click on your profile and, if they like what they see at the top of your profile, they will continue reading.”

Bear in mind that companies “do not limit themselves to contacting only those who are unemployed,” said Pulido. So forget the idea that indicating that you are available in your title may be helpful; it won’t be.

Worse still, Pulido warns that letting it be seen that you are out of a job can hurt your chances. Oftentimes, companies are more attracted to those who have a job already. Many opt for “passive candidates,” in other words those who are not actively looking for work.

2. LinkedIn works like Google to search for talent

In the same way that you, as a worker, can search for job openings through LinkedIn, companies can look for potential employees.

“LinkedIn is a non-semantic search engine, similar to Google, in which I, as a recruiting company, enter a series of keywords based on my needs. The people who appear in the list of results will be the profiles that interest me,” said Pulido.

So think about how you do your Google searches. You might write, “English teacher at home”, and those responsible for human resources might search for “SEO specialist editor” or “Python programmer with five years’ experience”. LinkedIn presents a series of results listing those professional profiles that match the keywords entered in the search.

Knowing this, it is easy to see that a search is unlikely to contain keywords such as “unemployed”, “actively seeking employment” or similar terms. Therefore, if you write it in your title, you will not appear in the searches and you may lose out on job opportunities.

If you write ‘unemployed’ or ‘actively looking for a job’ in your title, you will not appear in the searches and you may lose out on job opportunities.

3. You have 120 characters to position yourself

There is an even more important reason why you should never write “actively searching for work” in the title: you will be wasting 120 characters on something that will not make your profile attractive to recruiters. “Contrary to what some people may think, recruiters don’t spend all their time looking at LinkedIn,” said Pulido. “They dip in a couple of times a week. They look at four things and little else. They do a very specific search for what they need.”

This means that if you just write in the title that you are “looking for a job”, you are missing out on the opportunity to mention your skills or profession. This complicates the recruiter’s task––and that will not work in your favor. “It is very hard to hear, but it is like this: You may be the perfect candidate, but you cannot expect a person who does not know you (and who does not have time) to search through your entire profile to see if you are the ideal person,” said Pulido.

“You cannot expect a person who does not know you (and who does not have time) to search through your entire profile to see if you are the ideal person” - Aurora Pulido, specialist in marketing strategies at LinkedIn.

This is the secret to optimizing your profile on LinkedIn: you have to understand how recruiters use LinkedIn to find professionals and the role that the title plays in that search. Once you have that, then you just have to put your knowledge to good use.

The keys to a good title on LinkedIn

By now, it is clear that the headline is not the best place to request a job. It is, however, the perfect spot to make it clear what makes you different, how you can add value to potential businesses, and anything that can make you more attractive to companies. A good way to think about it is to see your title as a kind of ultra-condensed cover letter.

According to Pulido, there are three key elements to crafting a good LinkedIn title:

1. Include keywords:

“You should know what the three or five keywords of your profession are and the job you want ––and preferably enter them in the first part of your headline.”

2. Create context:

Showcase your knowledge: “Indicate what you do, so that the person who comes to your profile for the first time understands it.”

3. Sound natural:

“You shouldn’t sound like a robot. It is obvious when some people use keywords only to position themselves.”

Pulido recommends spending time thinking about your headline: “This involves a lot of self-analysis, since you have to take stock of your experience, of the moments in your career that you are proud of, and then thoroughly investigate what type of position you want.” That is the position you should indicate in your title. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for the recruiter to differentiate you from other candidates.

Once you have decided what you want to say, you should match your strengths as a professional with the keywords used by recruiters, so that everything is incorporated into the title. “It is there, in that common thread, where you must position yourself, communicate, and differentiate yourself,” said Pulido.

Top tip: look at the descriptions of jobs you want

A good way to find out what keywords recruiters use to search for talent is to look at the wording used in advertisements for the type of positions you would like to have.

“You have to soak up the job descriptions. It is incredible that people ignore them, as they are very important,” said Pulido. “Choose between 20 and 30 job descriptions and analyze them, until you understand them perfectly. It is very important that you use the terms that are used there.”

By incorporating them into your title, you will make it fit with the searches being entered by recruiters and your profile will be better positioned to obtain results.

So how do I communicate on LinkedIn that I’m looking for a job?

In your profile, there is a section where you can proactively let LinkedIn know that you are looking for a job. This option is found in the Privacy section, in the Job search Preferences section, where you must activate the “Inform recruiters of your interest in new opportunities” tab. If you do so, LinkedIn will let recruiters know that you are interested in receiving offers. “That’s the right place to say, ‘Hey, I’m available’,” said Pulido.

And, of course, never underestimate the power of your network on the platform. Make sure that the professionals with whom you are connected know that you are looking for a job, for example, by means of private messages. And finally, don’t forget that companies also use their own contacts when it comes to finding candidates. So now you know what to do you can make it happen.

Translated by Sunita Maharaj-Landaeta

Photo: Welcome to the Jungle

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