What to Do To Your LinkedIn Profile When You Lose Your Job

By Carl Meacham (SEAS ’94)

First, I ignored it.  My wife said, “You know, you should update your profile so that recruiters can find you.”  What profile?

So, “Denial” is one of the early stages of Job-loss Grief?  I don’t have to go through that, too, do I?  Can’t we just skip the whole “grieving” thing?

Yeah…no.   Turns out that grieving is a train you have to take from Here to Doing OK.  You can get off anytime you want to and hang out, but it doesn’t get you any closer to the Doing OK station, which is usually the stop before New Job.  Apparently the train runs faster for some than it does for others. Oh, and about the layoff – yeah, it sucks, but good people get laid off every day, and no, you didn’t deserve it.

ANYWAY, my next plan after “Ignore It” was “Hide the Truth.” I thought that cleverly removing from my headline the fact I was not working was a great idea.   That way it just says something nice, like “Software Leader,” but not where I work, or don’t work, as the case may be.  I had to take off my current company.  Otherwise it would say “Software Leader at Unemployed” or something else awful.

It turns out that all of my shenanigans were really only serving to forestall my job search by keeping me invisible to the armies of determined recruiters out there, even the ones to whom I’m actually connected.  When I asked my friend Google about it, I found that many other smart people had already figured this one out and written articles about exactly what to do with a LinkedIn profile after losing a job so as to minimize shame and maximize search ranking!

Although they all kind of agreed with each other, no one article had all the answers. So, I summarized all of the nifty advice in each, obeyed it, and POOF!  Just like that, the number of people viewing my profile doubled, and within a week, 5 recruiters “found” me, with open positions for me to consider (YMMV).  How about them apples?  Now I should be good, until someone changes the SEO rules again.

SO, with no further ado, here is a summary of the advice I applied, broken down by LinkedIn profile section, although for each there is more detailed advice in the various source articles:

In General:

  • FIRST AND FOREMOST:  Move that switch on your profile page that says “Notify Your Network?” to NO.  Finish monkeying with your profile, then switch it back.  That way you don’t broadcast one of those stupid, “Congratulate Carl Meacham on his new position at Unemployed” messages to 852 people.  Just shoot me.
  • After you fix your headline, make a new position that for your “Current Position” as a Pro-bono Recruiter at Please Hire Me.  Actually, don’t make that your title. Or your company.  Keep reading.
  • The secret sauce in this whole deal is that without a “Current Position,” you drop in the search rankings.  So we’re going to make one that isn’t entirely embarrassing.  I promise.


  • This is primo real estate; make it count
  • This is the #1 most heavily-weighted field, so put your best buzzwords here
  • Make your value proposition stand out  (see the source articles for more on this)
  • Include in your desired position and list key skills
  • Use “|” separators instead of “,”  – they are easier to read
  • The max field-length is pretty high, unlike others, so use it
  • ex. “IT Director | VP of IT | Seeking New Infrastructure, Applications or Networking Leadership Role in Managed Services Setting”

Profile Summary:

  • You have a large chunk of text here with which to make your pitch.  What value do you bring?  Recent accomplishments?  I used the much-refined text from my resume.
  • Deliver a direct message to employers referring to your value proposition
  • ex.  “Why consider me for Director of Software?  I bring not only technical skills, but 10+ years’ experience in….”
  • See the articles below for more about this
  • Build in all your best keywords
  • Spell out what positions you’re after and where you would like to work
  • At the present moment, mine ends with: “Seeking leadership positions to bring your cross-functional teams together to deliver complex software on-time, on-budget and with high quality.”   Sounds like a Technical Program Manager, doesn’t it?

Current Position:

  • Job Title:  Same words as your headline.  Not sure why, but it was advised and it seems to work, so I’m good with it.
  • Put in the start year, but don’t put in the months.  I didn’t know you could do this, did you?  Its a little “anti-discrimination-against-the-unemployed” tactic.  The only trick here is that you have to change it before 1 year is up.
  • Job Description: Like the profile summary, but maybe in more detail.  I used different general text from my resume than I used in the Summary.
  • Location:  your target locale!
  • Company:  here’s where you put “Actively Seeking New Opportunities” or something positive like that.  See?  That wasn’t so bad. More than one author will tell you to avoid words like “In Transition” or “Unemployed.”   Recruiters actually search for “seeking.”

Now you’ve made all of these changes, you can flip the “Notify Your Network” switch back to “Yes.”  I liked my changes so much, I made a minor edit to my profile and hit save, just so everyone would get notified that I “updated my profile.”    No shame in my game.  🙂

Source Articles:

LinkedIn Post:  (and my favorite)

To Advertise or Not to Advertise Your Job Search on LinkedIn

How To Write A LinkedIn Profile When You’re Unemployed

LinkedIn Cheat Sheet: 5 Tips For A Professional Profile

The Best LinkedIn Job Title When You Are Unemployed

How to Leverage LinkedIn Smartly When You Are Unemployed

7 Ways to Attract Recruiters on LinkedIn

Here’s a bonus:

There Are 5 Stages of Job Loss Depression


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