So your job was eliminated, you quit, or you were laid off – now what should you put on LinkedIn when you’re unemployed?
- What should you disclose about your job search?
- What current job should you list on LinkedIn?
- How do you put the focus back on your talents and suitability as a promising candidate?
- How should you mention your unemployed status (if at all)?
You’ll need a strategy for LinkedIn that helps head off questions, while drawing more employer traffic and representing your personal brand.
Here’s how to write a strong LinkedIn Profile that ignores your unemployed status and promotes your strongest capabilities:
1 – What to put in your LinkedIn HEADLINE when unemployed.
Here’s where you’ll want to ensure your leadership value proposition (NOT than your employment status) stands out.
After all, your Headline is prime real estate—displayed in nearly EVERY interaction you’ll have on the site AND the #1 most heavily weighted field in LinkedIn’s indexing scheme.
In other words, get your Headline right, even if you don’t touch the other fields!
Your employment status is NOT the brand message to send to employers. Recruiters and employers need your skills; they don’t need to know the exact last date you’ve used them.
Instead, display a clear promise of value, while alluding to (but not directly stating) your executive job search.
These examples (making full use of your Headline’s 220 characters) show how you can make your message clear to employers, without the negative connotation of “unemployed” in your Headline:
Revenue Officer. Consistent #1 Market Share & Customer Acquisition for US, Canada, & India. Aligns Sales, Marketing, Channels, Analytics, & CRM for Customer Experience in Telecom, SaaS, or Retail
IT Director, VP of IT. Infrastructure, Applications, & Networking Leadership. Managed Services, DevOps, Agile, Automation, & IT Security. Creates Efficient IT Teams Delivering Cost Savings & Business Capabilities
How do you write a Headline like this? Use job postings and review other LinkedIn Profiles to build a keyword list similar to these examples. Keywords are critical in your Headline, because they attract employers and increase your traffic through the site’s algorithm. Add a brief statement of value, too (Grows Sales Up to 65% Through Consultative Techniques).
See A Fast Formula for a Powerful LinkedIn Headline for more insight on creating an effective Headline that attracts employers.
2 – What to put in your LinkedIn ABOUT / SUMMARY section when unemployed.
Just like your Headline, the About section (formerly the Summary) can be used to deliver a direct message to employers that clearly outlines your personal brand.
Show powerful achievements in your About section – and introduce them with a personalized message similar to this example:
“I take companies to next-level growth – building IT operations as CIO that cut OPEX up to 30% and delivering apps that generate revenue, heading digital transformation, and cutting ticket resolution time 50% using analytics.
Cost, value, and ROI are crucial factors in operationalizing business decisions and improving our productivity.”
Note the keywords built into this introduction (IT operations, IaaS, digital transformation, analytics, OPEX, ROI), telling employers this executive is interested in another CIO role. There is NO mention of employment status!
You can close your About section with a call to action like this:
“As a Business Development VP who opens C-suite relationships, I close multiyear sales opportunities for cloud services, AI, and software sales.
I welcome connections at Laura@AnExpertResume.com.”
In this example, Business Development VP, sales, cloud services, AI, software, and other industry-specific terms are all used as keywords to attract attention from the right employer.
Remember, you actually have BETTER opportunities to promote yourself on LinkedIn when unemployed! Use the About section to openly display your expertise, without worrying that your CEO, Board, or team are viewing your Profile with suspicion.
3 – What to put in your LinkedIn EXPERIENCE section when unemployed.
List your career history and job titles as usual, with a sprinkling of accomplishments and description of your role in the company.
However, don’t get creative when it comes to your last job! If your employment ended only recently, you have several options.
You could just leave your former role as if it’s still current, especially if you’re still receiving severance pay or helping your previous employer on an as-needed basis.
Another option is to simply give your former job an End Date on your LinkedIn Profile. While doing so will drop your Profile’s searchability (slightly), this is also the most straightforward way to show your current status. Again, you don’t have to say you’re unemployed when doing this!
In some cases, executives add a “current job” entry to give recruiters an idea of the title they’re seeking, while making it clear they’re currently unemployed. Should you decide to do so, a simple “COO in Transition” at “Manufacturing Company” or “IT & Program Leader” at “Technology Industry” will suffice.
What you should put on LinkedIn when you’re unemployed, basically, is a reflection of what you offer employers going FORWARD.
It’s NOT about your unemployment status, but what you uniquely offer the RIGHT employer.