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Updated: May 5, 2022

Social media and the job search are going hand-in-hand these days. Since the pandemic and the concurrent Great Resignation (about mid-2021), I have noticed through my clients' success in obtaining a new role, that over 70% (as at this writing in 2022) are being found, contacted, recruited more from LinkedIn than from job boards. Why? Not sure. My educated guess would be that with the unemployment rate just over 3%, and that there are (calculated in the first quarter of 2022) 2 jobs for every unemployed person in the US. So, the recruiter who makes contact first gets the candidate. Several clients reported to me they were contacted on LinkedIn for: a) jobs they haven't seen/didn't apply for, and b) jobs that hadn't been advertised when they were contacted. If you'd told me in early 2021 that you didn't want a LinkedIn profile, I wouldn't have tried to persuade you to have one. Since then? Look at the recent recommendations on my LinkedIn and Thumbtack profiles regarding how clients were contacted by recruiters who saw their profile on LinkedIn. Clients' success has convinced me otherwise.

I don't need a LinkedIn profile: For those who don't think a profile is necessary, consider this: You have all the requisite skills needed for a job you don't know exists. Same for someone else who is equal to your skills and expertise. And the other person has a LinkedIn profile, it's there working 365/24/7 for them. A recruiter or a hiring manager goes onto LinkedIn and types in some keywords, sorting profiles for the best matching candidates and brings up those who best match the search for a job. Your guarantee is that you will never come up in that search because you're not there to be found. You just gave the dream job to someone else.

I already have my resume on a job board: I have my resume uploaded on [job board]. Great! And recruiters who find qualified candidates on LinkedIn are not likely to bother with a job board. With this being a job candidate market, recruiters/hiring managers know that time from keyword search-to-telephone screen-to-job offer-to-onboarding has to be minimized to get the best available candidates to hire. Finding viable candidates on LinkedIn decreases the time to go from one job board to the next. When you have 3-5 good people to contact from LinkedIn, why would you spend time on a job board or multiple job boards?

Why LinkedIn first vs. a job board? If you have a strong resume informing your LinkedIn profile, the next thing is to see if the person looks professional (related to the industry). LinkedIn is one place, the place, to put said photo.

I don't need a photo with my profile: For those who don't think a photo is necessary (I love this part), I will leave you with this input from someone who ran a workshop my husband was in many years ago. When he told me what the instructor said, it resonated with me and stayed with me. Being someone who does recruiting for small businesses, being someone who is a public-facing person, marketing for my own business, conveying what I intend to be my confidence, my competence, my professionalism, I can tell you I've been on both sides of considering what this man said that day: Not having a photo on LinkedIn is like showing up for a job interview with a bag over your head.

Yeah, let that sink in for a second. Who would do that? But that's what you're doing when you have bitten the bullet, have your profile, and don't have a photo. You're asking someone to trust what's written there, sight unseen, and interview you or hire you. We aren't a society that does that as a rule. We are visual. We look for fit, common sense, competency, confidence, etc. We make judgement calls on whether to make contact by our visual cues. It's not good or bad, it's just how it is.

I've written this blog since I've had to repeatedly write this content so many times in emails. Now I'm just sending the link to this article to those who don't think a LinkedIn profile or a photo on your profile is helpful or important. Nothing could be further from reality in this job market. And since the trend is now set, it will continue this way.

Photo Guidelines: Next, assuming you've come around to having a profile and a photo, here are the simple guidelines.

  1. The photo is just you (no cute kids or pets, no other people, no cropping yourself out of a photo or cropping other people out of a photo).

  2. Head and shoulders photo is the best. Worried you're looking too young or too old? Go back up above and read the part about 2 jobs available for every 1 person looking for a job. I have clients not just in their 40s, but also 50s, 60s and 70s (and those also paranoid in their teens, 20s, and 30s). Put your best look forward, tidy hair, if you need makeup then keep it simple. Keep any jewelry simple. And for heaven's sake, smile a little please.

  3. No costumes, no formal dress. While you looked splendid and creative at Halloween in the witch's outfit or as a Marvel character, it doesn't belong on your LinkedIn profile. Business casual is the best description of clothes that look good. My own best LinkedIn photos over the years have been ones I took at my desk with the computer camera. I'm not a fan of having my photo taken. I do it when it's just me and Yoda (our family dog). He makes me laugh. I snap the self photos. Dozens of them. There's always one every 3-5 years that is good to use for my LinkedIn profile.

A note about the fear of profile or photos being so public. I've had an issue from time-to-time. Let's just say they weren't being professional about networking on the professional networking site. I report people to LinkedIn when that occasionally happens, and they're dealt with. I also block them.

Too much work: No it's not. Please, just put up your profile with the photo, find the industries or companies you want to follow. Connect with a few trusted colleagues, and leave it at that if you can't be bothered. My LinkedIn activity is in the morning, first cuppa in hand, scan the items from the feed I get, click on those I like, share others. See who's contacted me if any. View my notifications: 5 minutes.

Final argument: It's too public, and my colleagues or manager will see what I'm doing and I'll get fired. (You have the same argument with your information on a job board by the way.)

Not likely. To begin, if you don't have contacts, someone has to know to go out and find you. And you can be proactive and go find people you don't want checking out your activity and block them (whether they're connected to you or not).

Key Privacy Settings:

- Click on your little profile photo at the top of the ribbon when you're logged in. You'll see a dropdown list that includes Settings and Privacy. Click on that to get the next menu.

- Click on Visibility.

- Then click on Visibility of your LinkedIn Activity.

Change 2 settings:

a) Share profile updates with your network (slide this to OFF), and

b) Manage active status: Choose who can see when you are on LinkedIn. (choose the option No One). At this point, you're pretty much anonymous and no one knows to track you, even if you're connected to them.

One final setting to do with recruiting: You want recruiters and hiring managers to know you're looking for a new job, and you don't want everyone else to know.

- Go back to LinkedIn Home.

- Click on your little photo at the top ribbon on the page.

- Click on View Profile.

- Looking at your editable profile page, you see your photo, then your name, then your headline and location, then your number of connections.

- Under that there's a solid blue oval that says Open to. Click on that.

- Click on Open to Work. Fill in the appropriate information you'd like someone to search on and find you (e.g., Job titles, Workplaces, Job Locations, Start date, Job Types).

- Next, choose Who Sees You're Open to work:

- Choose Recruiters only.

- Then click Save.

Again, remember to Save.

You know you've got it right when you go back and view your profile and see your photo and you DON'T (repeat you DON'T want to) see a green ribbon around your photo saying Open to Work. (Everyone can see that, so if you see a green ribbon, go back and check your settings to have only recruiters see you're looking for work; save the setting and then check again to make sure there is NOT a green ribbon around your photo).

Remember, green ribbon is bad for anonymity. You just want recruiters = no green ribbon.

This limits knowing you're searching for a job using LinkedIn to just people using LinkedIn Recruiter accessibility.

If you're still concerned someone in your organization in HR or others have access to this level of access on LinkedIn, if you're connected to them, bring up their profile, click on More under their photo and Block them.

If you're not connected to them, find them on LinkedIn, click on their profile, When you see their photo, title/headline, on the oval box below their photo that says More. You can block them--even if you're not connected.

If you still have reservations about using this site to help you in your career and/or job search, nothing written here will get your fears out of your head. You'll have the same concerns with your resume being on any job board (sans the photo though). The anonymity issues are the same.

And with that, I can only wish you all the continued success in your career.

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