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Should You Billboard Yourself in Cyberspace?

You're out of work and need to get noticed by prospective networking contacts, recruiters and employers. Does publicizing that need, and your credentials, in a widely viewed public space (such as a LinkedIn discussion) help or hurt your credibility as a job candidate?

Since eFinancialCareers News launched our LinkedIn group about a month ago, many unemployed professionals have opened discussions there, advertising their hunt for specific types of work. These reverse help-wanted ads run the gamut from a municipal bond salesman to a corporate treasury manager who doubles as a disc jockey.

In the obsessively discreet and hyper-competitive financial industry, where recruiters tout their ability to ferret out "passive candidates," does laying your cards on the table like this amount to shooting yourself in the head?

Discretion Isn't Out of Style

The stigma once attached to jobless candidates in finance has diminished in recent months, headhunters tell eFinancialCareers News. But it's not entirely gone. So a degree of caution may still be wise when posting in public areas.

"In the sectors that I cover, it would not be particularly well regarded if you came across someone's name on LinkedIn saying, 'Hey, I'm looking,'" remarks Adam Zoia, managing partner of Glocap Search, a headhunter prominent in the alternative investments space.

When you post about yourself in a public area, you can't control who sees it. Your jobless status thus is exposed to recruiters, prospective employers, colleagues, friends and peers who might be rivals for openings you will pursue later on. Even if you were a casualty of a mass layoff, Zoia says decision-makers may still suspect those let go weren't the strongest performers in the downsized company or department.

Layoff Survivors Enjoy An Edge

When considering a candidate who was laid off, Zoia says, "I have to be really convinced that either the whole group was cut out or else there was something pretty dramatic" that led to the layoff. Otherwise, another candidate who survived a group layoff most likely will leapfrog the one who didn't.

"When someone's out of a job, you (as recruiter) really have to explore more carefully," says Jay Gaines, chief executive of search firm Jay Gaines & Co. But he doesn't think job-seekers need to be coy. "In this climate there are good people out of jobs. The fact that they're touting themselves openly (as out of work), I have no issue with that," he says.

Joe Ziccardi, chief executive of search firm Cromwell Partners, also has no problem with such posts. "I think it is accepted now and it is okay, especially given the environment," Ziccardi says in an e-mail. "I know recruiters who are spending much of their time mining these forums now."

One caveat for unemployed job-seekers: Avoid any hint of puffery in self-descriptions. "Promote yourself with dignity, subtlety, understatement," advises Gaines. "Let your experience speak for itself, and hold the crap." Praise from a boss or other third party makes you look good. But applying glowing adjectives to yourself - even if accurate - will simply paint you as insecure or full of hot air.

AUTHORJon Jacobs Insider Comment
  • Jo
    Jon Jacobs
    17 April 2009

    Tracy, have you ever heard or read anyone advise "pretend(ing) that your position was not eliminated"? Just asking... because certainly you didn't read anything to that effect in this story.

    Obviously a job-seeker who scores an interview (or even an initial phone screening from HR) must be prepared to "come clean" about his or her current situation.

    Likewise, an applicant who has either a regulatory record or (Heaven forbid!) criminal record must "come clean" about that at some point during the interview process. And that point had better come before the employer discovers it on their own.

    But no one says candidates should mention regulatory or legal troubles on their resume - or in self-branding messages they post on public Web sites. Both branding and job-hunting are all about putting your best foot forward - not your worst foot.

    Although being out of work clearly isn't comparable to having been formally accused or convicted of improper behavior, neither is it something a strong candidate would wish to advertise to the world.

    --Jon Jacobs, eFinancialCareers News staff

  • Tr
    Tracy Adams
    17 April 2009

    It does you no good to pretend that your position was not eliminated. Any job search process is going to include a call to your "current" employer, and that will immediately let the hiring person - recruiter or direct hirer - know the deal. Better to come clean up front than appear to be hiding something, giving the impression that you are not entirely honest. If a hiring company does not know enough to know that lay off criteria may have everything or nothing to do with performance, that may well be a company that you would do better not to join.

  • An
    16 March 2009

    I do not think there is nothing wrong with letting most people know that you are looking for work... We, in the Finance industry are hurting now, but linked is a good site for any professionals looking to network. Am assuming the recruiters would know that.
    You never know, who could meet here, perhaps your next boss.. Do all you can to get your job.

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