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Smartly and Carefully Increase Your Visibility to Recruiters Using LinkedIn "Open Candidate"

By Susan P. Joyce

In October, 2016, LinkedIn announced "Open Candidate," a new tool for job seekers and recruiters. LinkedIn had been quietly making the option available to some members, and over a million had signed up when the program was announced.

LinkedIn says: "Open Candidate is a new feature that makes it easier to connect with your dream job by privately signaling to recruiters that you are open to new job opportunities."

Note that the only recruiters who receive this information will be recruiters who participate in LinkedIn's (expensive) Recruiter product. So, not every recruiter will know that you are an open candidate.

If you opt in to using this tool, LinkedIn will share the following information with recruiters:

  • Flag you as open to hearing about new opportunities.
  • Job titles or roles you're interested in (asked in the sign-up form, below).
  • If you're open to full-time or contracted opportunities (asked in the sign-up form, below).
  • Date you flagged yourself as open to new opportunities.

Currently available only in the USA, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, LinkedIn's announcement makes clear that this will "soon" be available worldwide although no deadline is given. Published for both desktop and mobile devices, many job seekers are eagerly taking up this offer from LinkedIn.

Details on how to join most effectively are below. But you might want to consider these cautions, next, before you sign up.

Cautions for Employed Job Seekers

While unemployed job seekers can probably activate Open Candidate without any concerns, you should be careful if you currently have a job.

LinkedIn recognizes that there could be risks associated with participation by employed job seekers.

On the sign-up page, near the bottom of the screen, they make the following statement:

"We take steps to not show your current company that you’re open, but can’t guarantee that we can identify every recruiter affiliated with your company."


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They cannot make this guarantee because many recruiters are not employees of the company they are recruiting for. They are independent recruiters who may be working on contract with several employers. LinkedIn will probably not be able to protect you from these recruiters because their connection to your employer will likely be invisible to LinkedIn.

If you are employed now, consider these two issues before you click the "On" button to activate Open Candidate:

  1. Be sure you have clearly identified your current employer in your LinkedIn Profile.

    LinkedIn will attempt (but, as indicated, not guarantee) to block your current employer from knowing you have become an Open Candidate (for the reason, see # 2, below). Probably the safest way to do this is to find your employer's LinkedIn Company Profile, and use the exact company name from that profile as your employer's name for your current job. Hopefully, you will see your employer's logo appear in the right side of your Profile near your current job title.
  2. If discovered, your current employer may consider you a "flight risk."

    A "flight risk" is someone who is considering leaving, so potentially no longer a loyal employee focused on their jobs. Worse, if you are working on something important or sensitive, you may be seen as someone who could be untrustworthy. The result may be a very awkward discussion with your boss or a termination of your employment.

So, consider your other options before becoming a LinkedIn Open Candidate.

"Active Candidate" Label Assigned?

By joining this program, you may be viewed by recruiters or employers as an "active candidate." This is not usually good.

For the last few decades, employers have been less interested in hiring an "active candidate" (someone actually looking for a new job) than in hiring a "passive candidate" (someone who is, presumably, happily employed and not looking for a new job). Crazy, but real nonetheless.

Notice also that one of the bits of information which is made available to recruiters (above) is the date you "flagged" yourself as open to new opportunities. So, LinkedIn is telling them how long you have been an "active candidate." Not clear that they will record when you joined and how long you participated if you subsequently drop out with or without a change in job or employer.

Time may change this negative view, or LinkedIn's credibility and business acumen may overcome it for LinkedIn Active Candidates.

How to Become a LinkedIn Open Candidate

The sign-up process is pretty clear, but a little hard to find.

1. Start by clicking on the "Jobs" tab at the top of your LinkedIn Profile.

2. Then, click on the "Preferences" link below the "Jobs" tab, as the red arrows show in the image below.

LinkedIn Open Candidate for increased visibility to recruiters

3. Click the button beside the word "Off" (in the image above), and you will be added to the program. Then, scroll down the page to see the additional information you can provide.

LinkedIn Open Candidate

Title is flagged for recruiters, so choose carefully. When you start typing in a job title, LinkedIn will offer you options to choose from. For example, begin by typing "marketing" in the "+ Add title" field, and you will see "Marketing Manager," "Marketing Director," "Marketing Coordinator," "Marketing Assistant", and so on appear. Choose the most appropriate for you. You may add additional job titles, but it's smart to choose titles that are related so you look focused and consistent with your profile. These are veryimportant keywords for you!

"Job type" offers you the ability to choose the kind of job you want -- full-time, part-time, contract, etc. This information is also flagged for recruiters.

The options for the "When can you start" query are by month and year, starting with the current month and going out one year.

The "Introduction" gives you the opportunity (in 300 characters or less) to do some personal marketing and provide information not visible in your Profile, like what you want to do next. Again, remember to include the keywords that are appropriate for you.

LinkedIn Open Candidate

In the lower third of this long page, LinkedIn wants you to choose the experience level and company size that interest you. To do that, slide the ends of the bars to the appropriate sections to make your preferences clear.

To learn how LinkedIn describes the Open Candidate process to employers, read this page -- 2 New Ways to Discover Candidates Who Are Open to Hearing From You on LinkedIn. It is very interesting!

Bottom Line

This is the opportunity for more visibility with employers. It does offer some risks, but the risk may be offset by the added visibility.

More about LinkedIn for Job Search:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.


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