2020 revealed that many long-held, go-to hiring practices needed to be disrupted, modernized, or eliminated. But, unlike other periods of economic downturn when employment shortages were concentrated in certain sectors, loss of work during the pandemic was widespread across geographic locations, industries, career levels, and career fields.
This included recruiters. Given our unique positioning and influence in the hiring process, I was pleased, as a recruiter myself, when I witnessed many of us take a “secure your oxygen mask and then help others secure theirs” approach to finding new employment. With the same enthusiasm they have for sharing open roles they were looking to fill, recruiters were sharing lists and referrals, making connections, creating hashtags, and building communities across social channels with the sole purpose of getting themselves and other trusted recruiters back to work. They then replicated that model to fill non-recruiting roles even when they weren’t the recruiter who was directly working on them. It was lovely.
During this time, one of the main tools and resources at recruiters’ disposal, LinkedIn, introduced a new feature that lets recruiters know a job seeker is #OpenToWork. The feature allows for users to add an #OpenToWork frame to their LinkedIn profile picture and specify their career interests in an effort to connect them with relevant recruiters and employers, with them having to make a formal introduction. As with any tool, though, there are advantages and disadvantages, especially for early adopters.
The following are the pros and cons from my recruiter and career coach perspective of using LinkedIn’s #OpentoWork feature.
Read more: 6 Ideas for Picking a LinkedIn Cover Photo
Pro: The #OpenToWork tag alerts recruiters and employers that you’re on the job market.
Because professionals engage and navigate LinkedIn in multiple ways, identifying oneself as an active job seeker is a great way to stand out from those who are not looking for new employment. Using the #OpenToWork profile picture frame makes that possible and more widely visible. Especially in cases where a LinkedIn user isn’t very active and/or doesn’t have a large network, a post or updated headline update signaling that one is open to employment may go unread, but with the frame, there is a higher likelihood that an active job seeker will be “seen.”
Pro: The #OpenToWork tag guides job seekers who aren’t adept at searching and allows them to control how much information is shared.
I often come across job seekers who are at a loss for what information to include on their profile to attract potential employers and/or what keywords to use in their searches to direct them to the employers and opportunities that fit their talent profile and career goals. Some believe that having a LinkedIn profile alone is enough to signify they are open and available for work. The #OpenToWork feature takes the guesswork out of the equation and allows job seekers to select and share the following information to allow their profiles show up in searches conducted by recruiters.
Flags a job seeker as open to hearing about new opportunities.
Specifies job titles or roles the job seeker is interested in.
Identifies the type of work the job seeker is interested in pursuing (full-time or contract opportunities).
Shows the job seekers preferred work location.
Lists the date the job seeker flagged themselves as open to new opportunities.
Pro: You don’t need a premium account subscription to be able to use the feature.
Prior to introducing the #OpenToWork feature, job seekers who didn’t pay a monthly fee for the LinkedIn Premium—an upgraded version of the social media platform with access to new features, details about who is viewing your profile, and updates on second- and third-level connections, among other perks—had a more difficult time making their profiles stand out to recruiters. With #OpenToWork, they no longer need to pay extra to expand their network beyond their first-level connections as recruiters will be more inclined to seek them out, especially if they are using the profile frame.
Con: Passive job seekers and those who want to maintain a higher level of anonymity can be overlooked.
#OpenToWork won't be added to your LinkedIn profile unless you’ve opted to share that you’re open to job opportunities with all members. I’ve always advocated for active job seekers to be “discoverable” on networking sites such as LinkedIn, but also understand the desire some have to keep their profiles private and unsearchable. The fact is, there are still employers who direct their recruiters to search the internet, paid job sites, and networking sites for current employees who are seeking employment elsewhere. They see job searching while you're employed as a sign of disloyalty instead of considering that there are multiple factors behind why someone may be looking or simply have a profile. Rest assured, though/ LinkedIn added a privacy feature so your current employer and related employers are prohibited from seeing your career interests. The added privacy is both a pro and a con to me because, for some, this is an unnecessary restriction that could potentially cut them off from people they wish to network with outside of seeking new employment.
Con: LinkedIn can disable the feature if you’re not responding to InMail messages.
Looking for a job can be stressful, and it is not uncommon for people to take periods of time when they rest, reset, and recalibrate. Also, job seekers are much more intentional and informed about the opportunities they pursue. In my opinion, turning off the #OpenToWork feature when a job seeker stops responding to recruiter InMail messages is not a best practice. Most LinkedIn users have a finite number of InMail messages they can accept and send each month, and there is no way to stop the influx of spam messages that can fill up one's InMail message center. For some job seekers, it would be a risk to open and respond to every message.
Con: Only recruiters who have LinkedIn Recruiter subscriptions can access your details.
LinkedIn Recruiter is a separate hiring platform exclusively for recruiting professionals that is designed to help them find, connect with, and engage job seekers for roles they’re trying to fill. So, unless they use the product, they won’t have access to your designated preferences and career interest information. Like LinkedIn Premium for job seekers, it comes at a cost, one which is not in the budget of some potential employers and recruiters.
As someone who joined LinkedIn when it was invite-only and you had to prove you were employed, and/or involved in the hiring process, I’ve witnessed its utilization evolve and change over time. Despite the disadvantages that I outlined, overall the feature can be used effectively and efficiently to connect job seekers to the recruiters and opportunities that align with their career goals.
Read more: 4 Ways to Respond to a Recruiter Email