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How to Update Your LinkedIn Profile When Unemployed

It’s an ironic fact that your odds of attracting recruiters on LinkedIn are much greater if the entry at the top of your Experience section shows dates ending with “Present.” The good news is, you can do that, honestly and effectively, no matter what your employment status is. This post explains what to put for current position on LinkedIn if unemployed.

Your LinkedIn current position if unemployed: three effective options.

Each of these options maintain a profile that (a) looks attractive to recruiters, who often prefer candidates who are currently employed, and (b) performs well in searches. Recruiters often proactively search LinkedIn for professionals who match their open positions. One way they do this is to look for people currently working in the same type of job. That’s what I’m going to help you with.

Option #1: Leave it current.

This option can work very well if you’re looking for a job similar to the one you recently left.

It’s simple. Just don’t deselect the checkbox next to “I am currently working in this role.” This approach does come with some caveats, as I noted last week at the end of my post The Best Time to Update Your LinkedIn Profile.

Option #2: Get creative.

The intention here is not to convince anyone reading your profile that you’re still in a job. The goal is to allow your profile to perform well in searches by creating an entry that (a) LinkedIn’s algorithms see as current employment, and that (b) contains plenty of keywords relevant to the type of job opening you’d like to be contacted about.

In your Experience section, click “+” as if you were entering a new job into the profile, and complete the form as follows.

“Title”: Write a generic description your expertise. Include your important keywords (the key skills, tools and qualifications mentioned in job postings for your type of job). Don’t hesitate to use the full character count allowed, which at this writing is 100 characters including spaces.

For example, if you’re an Account Executive and want to find a new role doing the same, you might write something like this:

Account Executive–Strategic Relationships, Business Development, Consultative Sales, Leadership

If you’re making a career change, write this “title” with a view towards what you want to do, emphasizing your qualifications for it. For example, if the Account Executive was seeking a Customer Success Manager role, they might write this instead:

Ideal Customer Success Manager background–consultative sales, C-suite relationships, training

“Employment Type”: Leave this blank. Remember, you’re not claiming this is a job.

“Company”: Type in the industry(ies) and/or companies you’ve worked in, such as:

Sporting Goods–successful experience at REI, Big 5, Patagonia and others

Choose the information that best positions you for your future goals. For example, if you don’t want to continue in your current industry, don’t mention it. If your past companies aren’t impressive, don’t mention them here.

“Location”: Enter the widest geographic area in which you might be willing to take a job. Include the word “remote” if that might be okay with you. You can cast your net fairly wide here, since you’re not committing yourself to anything, but if you’re looking for a job in a specific city, mention it.

“Update my headline”: Deselect the checkbox. If you want to update your Professional Headline (the line immediately under your profile photo) you can paste it into the text box. For tips on this, read my post “What to Put in Your LinkedIn Headline When Unemployed.”

“Description”: Describe your skills and experience, using plenty of keywords. Don’t hesitate to use the full 2,000 characters allowed, as long as what you’re writing is clear, correct, relevant, engaging and easy to read. Sell yourself! If you have a good bio, resume summary, elevator pitch or “Tell me about yourself” answer, you might considering using it here. You can also mention professional development and/or volunteer activities you’re engaging in. This shows that you’re a hard-working person who likes to keep busy and make good use of time.

“Media”: Optionally, you can post relevant photos, sites, videos or presentations–for example, a video of a talk you gave as a member of a professional association.

“Share with network”: Deselect this checkbox.

Option 3: Employ yourself. (This option takes a lot more time, but the benefits are many.)

There are lots of good reasons to freelance or consult when you’re between jobs. Just make your self-employment real before you list it as your current job. By “real,” I don’t necessarily mean profitable. If you’re prepared for customers and have landed at least one, you’re in business. Make sure you’re ready to answer questions about it in an interview or networking situation.

Now you know how to update your LinkedIn profile when unemployed. Follow these steps to help get your profile in front of recruiters looking for someone like you.

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