LinkedIn Current Title When you are… Unemployed?

April 25th, 2013 | by Jason Alba |

I got this question from Nathan Adams, a professional resume writer and owner of First Impressions Resume Center.  Nathan asked other resume writers (and then emailed me this question):

Can someone provide advice on how our clients should portray their experience on LinkedIn once they have left their most recent employer?

Should they create a “new” job that states that they are in transition? Should they just change the date of their most recent employer from present to the current year and do nothing else? Should they volunteer and treat this activity as a job to fill the gap?

I have seen all of the above.

For those that are currently unemployed, I have seen:

  • People say they are currently looking, open to opportunities, in transition, etc. A current search on “current” title for unemployed is 31,712 results.
  • People say they are a consultant… for example, my new title after I get laid off would be “Consultant” at Alba Enterprises, Alba Incorporated, etc.  This is very common.  I won’t tell you how many current titles have consultant in them (okay, it is 1.44M) because which of those are unemployed and desperately seeking work and which of those are real consultants making mega bucks?  Hard to tell.
  • People change the date, as Nathan asks, and not have a current title.  An alternative to this is that I’ve seen people NOT make any changes at all, so even though they are unemployed or have left a job, it still looks like they are at that job.
  • People volunteer and put that as their current title.  The hardest part of that is how do you find a volunteer opportunity that is long-term enough that you can post it as a title?  Volunteering once at the humane shelter is probably not good enough to merit a new title on LinkedIn.

In my mind there are two questions: What is moral and not deceitful, and what is most helpful for the right people (most people think recruiters, but it could be non-recruiters, too) to find you?

Personally, I would put that I am a consultant at my own company… If someone wants to hire me to consult, I’m all over that.  But just because I’m a consultant doesn’t mean I am out hustling 8 – 10 hours a day looking for gigs.

I am, though, EXPERT in something.  And that is the brand messaging and value proposition I want to share.

Sure, you can know that I’m open to opportunities.  I’m always open to opportunities.

We all know that employers want the hidden job seeker market… that is, the person who is not looking for a job.  They call that the “passive candidate.”  It is the holy grail of finding talent.

How can you be a part of the hidden job seeker market?  By focusing more on your talents and passions and abilities and less on your current employment status.  If you are a “consultant,” you are more likely to be considered a passive candidate by employers and recruiters.

Caveat: a lot of people, especially in certain places (silicon valley), see right through “consultant” and think it is synonymous to “unemployed.”

If I were a resume writer I would give my client a few options, like Nathan has listed above, and then let them choose the one they are most comfortable with.  None of them are deceitful, but they all give a slightly different message, and the job seeker has to be comfortable with what they are communicating.


  1. 5 Responses to “LinkedIn Current Title When you are… Unemployed?”

  2. By Norman Reiss on Apr 26, 2013 | Reply

    Interesting question. I think it’s important to show that you’re continuing to be productive and active in your field when ‘in transition,’ so this should be demonstrated in whatever LinkedIn title we select

  3. By Thea Kelley, GCDF, CPRW on Apr 26, 2013 | Reply

    I agree, Norman, as long as you can show what you’re working on / have done, so that “consultant” is a credible claim. I always advise my clients to look for contract or freelance work in between jobs, for this reason among others.

  4. By Maggie Graham on Apr 28, 2013 | Reply

    I think “consultant” is fishy unless you genuinely have an LLC and have contracts.

    I really dislike “seeking” in the title because potential employers don’t care — they just want to know what you can do for them, from a skills level.

    I recommend a descriptive, skill-rich headline and a current position (described below) because current position is part of LinkedIn’s formula of a complete profile (last # I read was that it’s 20% of a complete profile).

    Here’s the step-by-step guide I send my clients:
    Make sure you go to your Settings and turn off your Activity broadcast so that your connections don’t get a notice that you have a new position and congratulate you (embarrassing!). Wait 24-hours before turning your Activity broadcasts back on, as LI operates on a bit of a delay and might still send a notice to your connections about your new position if you don’t wait a bit before turning Activity broadcasting back on.

    In Profile/Edit Profile, copy your current headline in the top box next to your photo (use the little pencil icon next to the headline to access it and copy it). Put it in a notepad or other doc to preserve it because when you add a new position, LI will automatically put that title in as your headline. If you have a copy of your current headline, you can always restore it after you create your new position. Make the headline skills-based (as in, what you’re bringing to the table).

    Scroll down to the Experience section and click the plus sign next to “Add”
    Under “Company Name” put “Front Range Colorado” or “Northern Colorado” or something that represents the geographic area where you’re seeking work.

    Under “Title” put “Social Media Marketing Expert” or “Senior Marketing Manager” or something that describes the position you’re seeking. Don’t put “Seeking” there, though.

    Leave “Location” blank — it’s not required and you already put this info in this section.

    In Time Period, put 2013 (you can leave the month blank if you want — that’s up to you).
    Click the box next to “I currently work here”
    In “Description” list a few skills that you bring to your next position.

    Click the blue “Save” button to complete the action and then Profile/View Profile to make sure that your changes were saved.

    Wait a day or two before you turn back on your Activity broadcast in your settings because LinkedIn seems to be a little flakey about sending out something to all of your contacts about your new position — the advice that I’ve gotten from some of my clients is to wait at least 24 hours before turning back on your broadcast settings.

  5. By Kristin Johnson on May 2, 2013 | Reply

    Great post, Jason. I get asked this often, too. I agree that the most important questions is how you can creatively demonstrate that your brand attributes add value to your next employer.

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