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5 LinkedIn Changes to Make When You’re About to Be Laid-Off

In the last few years, I’ve been asked often what I thought a contact’s LinkedIn job hunt strategy should be before and after their job loss. Here’s what I’ve come up with as a working strategy for changing your LinkedIn profile when facing an impending layoff.


A separate identity.

In my opinion, the most important thing is to separate yourself from your current employer and to use LinkedIn to create a separate identity for yourself to use as you job-hunt. If your brand is Sales Rep for Sudden Death, that brand becomes much less valuable when you’re no longer working for Sudden Death.

You need to create your own brand and identity that you can start living out now and proudly take brand to prospective employers and recruiters when your current position runs out.

And if you create that brand before the separation, your new identity will be available and established by the time you really need it. Of course, this works in other areas as well, such as leaving college or starting your own business before quitting your day job.

You can use LinkedIn to rebrand and better position yourself for connecting with prospective employers and recruiters as you search for a new career. This is what I think you should change when dealing with a pending layoff.


1. Turn off LinkedIn profile change announcements

You’ll be doing some work tweaking your profile for your new brand. You don’t want to announce each change to all of your connections, which is the LinkedIn default, so turn it off. You’ll also avoid annoying your connections and alerting your company that you’re on the market.

This article will show you how to hide your LinkedIn Job Hunting Activity from Your Connections and clarify what is and isn’t turned off!

LinkedIn has also recently added the following notification button to the LI user profile edit screen (right-hand column underneath the Recommended for you area). Make sure this setting is set to No for killing profile change broadcasts.

Linkedin Job Hunt 


2. Modify your Summary

If you’ve received a layoff notice, you’re going to be on your own in a few months anyway and representing yourself, not your company. You’ll need a separate identity that isn’t linked to your current employer.

If your Summary is company specific and an ad for your current employer, change it to reflect who you are and what you bring to a new organisation. Modify your summary so it’s all about you and what you bring to the table rather than about your relationship with your current employer.


3. Modify your headline

By default, LinkedIn takes your headline from one of two places:

  • The title from the top entry in your Experience section.
  • The first few words from your Summary write-up if all the entries in your Experience section have end dates on them. I discovered this when I recently helped a college student change his LinkedIn profile and all of his previous on-campus jobs had ended.

Your LinkedIn headline is editable, which means you can use your own 120-character statement to “sell” yourself. So instead of having your headline default to “Head Sausage-Maker for Cat-Gut Sausages”, you can change it to something that reflects your goals and experiences, such as “Sausage-Making Management: SME and Industry Expert, Sausage Materials & Control”.

If you’re a Subject Matter Expert (SME), I’d recommend putting that in your headline. Check out this article that shows you how to change your LinkedIn headline to showcase your personal brand.

I also recommend against putting in a clause like “Looking for Work” or “Open to New Opportunities” in your headline. IMHO, that makes you look desperate and could be a red flag that you’re out of work or about to be out of work.

You want a headline that confidently announces who you are and what you want.


4. Rearrange your LinkedIn profile sections

Another unappreciated LinkedIn feature is that you can move profile sections within your profile. If you’re not happy with the standard LinkedIn profile layout of Summary, Experience, Organisation, Publications, etc., you can rearrange how those areas show up on your profile by using what I call the LinkedIn Magic Up-Down Arrow. The Magic Up-Down Arrow looks like this.

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 14.49.16

It’s obviously positioned in many section areas and individual entries on the profile edit screen.

Using this arrow, you can do two things:

  • You can move specific LinkedIn sections around in your profile. If you want to move your Publications area to the top of your profile, you can. If you want to move your Skills and Endorsements area more towards the top of your profile, you can. The arrow allows you to rearrange how general LinkedIn sections are presented, displaying your strongest areas first.
  • You can move individual items around within a section. You can rearrange your Experience entries so that a part-time job or side-business shows up first and your soon-to-be ex-employer shows up second.  You can also rearrange the entries in your Skills and Endorsements section to highlight your strongest skills, rather than having LinkedIn arrange them by the number of people who’ve endorsed you for each skill (the LinkedIn default).


5. Add a picture to your profile

People are more likely to contact you if you have a profile picture. The type of picture is under debate with the online community but some basic rules apply, including:

  • No selfies
  • Make sure it’s a well-lit shot. Don’t sit in the dark and make sure it’s not over-exposed (avoid the halo effect).
  • Head shots are best but no extreme close-ups
  • Make eye contact with the camera.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the work you are seeking
  • Smile
  • Some people say a laughing shot is more relatable but be careful you’re not grinning like the Joker

If you have a Gravatar photo, use that to create a consistent image of yourself across all social media.

These are some starter ideas for how you can modify your profile to position yourself for an impending layoff or after you’ve been laid off or downsized and are looking for another position. These changes will put you on the path to creating a separate identity that cuts your dependency on your former or current employer while you’re job hunting.


What do you change when job hunting on LinkedIn?

Joe Hertvik LinkedIn Job Hunt

By Joe Hertvik (@joehertvik). Joe is the owner of Hertvik Business Services, a content strategy company that services the B2B software industry. He frequently writes about LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media networks on his blog at joehertvik.com. Contact Joe at joe@joehertvik.com for more information or a quote for services.



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