Unemployed? Use a LinkedIn Place holder

by | May 19, 2020

Why you need a LinkedIn Place holder

There are solid reasons for avoiding an employment gap and adding a LinkedIn place holder to your profile if you find yourself without a job


Many people get laid off in times of recession and there seems to be no doubt there is a recession or even a depression on the way. A high number of people are still embarrassed to be seen without gainful employment and don't want to show they have been laid off. Today, there is a much more relaxed attitude and with so many people impacted by this particular crisis, there is no need for anyone to feel badly. But there are other, solid reasons for adding something that  tells people what you are doing now and marking it with what we call a place holder. Different career strategists have different views so I have listed some of them which can be helpful. This is particularly important on LinkedIn.

Some are tempted to just leave their current roles open ended. That could be risky if everyone knows the company has stopped trading or their HR function raise it with you.

By not citing a current job you will also get left behind by LinkedIn algorithms. You will have fewer profile views and appear less in search results. LinkedIn does not like employment gaps on your profile and penalises you for it.



What you can do about it

1. Avoid words such as "unemployed," or “redundant”

This maybe your current status, but these words are not generally used as key search words by hiring managers or recruiters and tend to have negative connotations in some sectors and with some people. I did say most people are more relaxed but not all.


2. Create a professional headline using keywords

These skills can be related to your transferable skills and hard skills. Use your last job title, as job titles carry weight on LinkedIn. You have 120 characters with spaces.


- MBA / Marketing Director / Branding and Market Penetration / Team Building / Digital Communication / Life Sciences (116 characters)

If you are a career changer:

- Former Lawyer / EU and Government Affairs / Lobbying / Diplomacy / Relationship Building / 4 languages (103 characters)



3. Use a Job Title in line with your next step.

Focus on your goal, not your temporary unemployed status such as “marketing manager seeking new challenges." This is my least favourite option.

Some career strategists suggest using all the job titles you aspire to which may be worth trying,  but could end up being confusing. The point is today you can test it and see if it works. If it doesn't change it. Check your metrics on profile views and number of searches you have appeared in on LinkedIn. If you are playing around turn off your privacy settings temporarily so your network doesn't see every minor update. Turn them back on when you have finished.

Events Manager / Operations Manager / Exhibition Manager


4. Drop the month section in your employment dates "From" and "To" Dates

Most people don’t realise they need only complete the year fields, and don’t have to add a month. This will give you until the end of 2020 before it’s an issue.


5. Add another type of job in career history

In the career history many people put freelance or independent contractor. This is fine, but be prepared to answer questions on the type of work you are doing.


Learn more about the recruitment process with the FREE 3Plus ebook- The way men and women look for jobs: 3Plus ebook for hiring managers and recruiters.

6. Tell it how it is

I have had clients who decide to tell it as it is. One used “Career Pivot “ or “Career Transition” as the job title. They included all the goals they had set themselves: “ Working with a coach I recovered from burnout, gave up smoking, lost 10 kilos, spent time with my terminally ill father, re-connected with my kids, ran 10kms without dying.”  It adds a human touch with a dash of humour.

Another new Mum wrote “nurturing new life” to cover her maternity leave.


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7. Open to new offers #ONO

Integrate #ONO into your headline to indicate that you are indeed open. That is a searchable hashtag.


8. Available to start immediately

This one line also indicates that you can start right away and there are no notice periods to deal with. I suggest putting that under a job title. It is not usually searchable although some highly skilled and creative candidate sourcers may start doing that.


9. Adjust your settings

Make sure you indicate in your privacy setting you are open to approaches by recruiters and head hunters and that you are happy to receive InMails. You would be surprised how many don't do that.


You can see why it’s important to have a LinkedIn place holder to cover any employment gap. Any of these suggestions can work well. You can also do the same on a CV for the same reasons. Many organisations have sophisticated applicant tracking systems which may apply the same elimination criteria.

However, whatever you decide, you have to own your message and be comfortable dealing with it in interviews. If you feel uneasy you will look as if you have something to hide.


Check out: How to make the most of LinkedIn for career and business success.


Dorothy Dalton Administrator
Dorothy Dalton is CEO of 3Plus International. A specialist in diversity and bias conscious executive search, she supports organizations to achieve business success via gender balance, diversity and inclusion. She is CIPD qualified, and a certified coach and trainer including digital learning.
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