“Looking for new opportunities…”

This post was inspired by, well, profiles we see every day on sites like LinkedIn. And particularly a post I clicked on last Thursday morning on GoldenLine.pl which led me to a group called “Job seeker’s corner”: 77 pages with on average 15 people per page introducing themselves as job hunters… that makes 1155 professionals looking for a job.

I then checked how many professionals (I did not differentiate experienced managers from junior professionals as the rules are the same) use those phrases:

  LI (PL) LI (intl) GL
pilnie szukam pracy 4 63
otwarty na nowe wyzwania 88 459
otwarta na nowe wyzwania 96 567
szukam pracy 425 6317
looking for new challenges 883 136367 116
looking for new opportunities 1007 306724 148
open to new challenges 1086 126407 103
looking for a job 1324 418043 300

Please find at the end an explanation / translations.

I also found (without looking) phrases like:

“I’m URGENTLY looking for a job; not necessarily in the finance market; I have to feed a family. I learn quickly; I’m ready to change my qualifications;”
“I’m urgently looking for a “sitting” job. Sick legs.”
“I’m a headhunter looking for a job urgently”
“Always open for new challenges and adventures”

I’ve asked some of my fellow Career Angels to comment on this practice:

Magdalena Bednarska: When I was still a headhunter, reading “I’m (urgently) looking for a new job”, would make me wonder: what are they thinking? What went wrong in their professional life? Did they have a streak of bad luck? Did they fail? Are they simply inefficient? And what exactly are they looking for? This short phrase would raise more questions than it answers. Once I started working more and more with executives it would communicate “desperation”, “passiveness” and an inability to properly maneuver the job market. The more senior the manager, the more inappropriate those phrases become.

Aneta Lesiak: At the beginning of my career – a headhunter who had to do her research – I did not pay attention to the tag line. I had to analyze the whole profile. Irrespectively of what it said, I would contact qualified potential candidates for my “long list”. A candidate is a candidate. It would not prevent me from contacting them, but it wouldn’t help either. However, after over 10 years in business I immediately think, “this manager is not successful. Their colleagues / clients / contacts on the market won’t hire him.” And that might not even be true. But that’s the message they are sending.

Anna Zadrożna: Having worked almost 6 years as a headhunter and now almost 8 years as an HR Manager, I can assess that phrase from both perspectives: a manager that posts “I’m open to new challenges” suggests that they are frustrated and desperate and rather ineffective in their job search. Headhunters don’t log onto LinkedIN in the morning and search for candidates that are “…looking for…”. They search for specific skills, positions, key words. I would even dare say that including that phrase is counter-productive – especially with executives.

Our advice:

Aneta: Delete it. Do it right or don’t do it at all. Prepare a target list of decision makers within your “wish list” of employers. Contact them directly. Do you follow-ups with headhunters. Be that classy and professional manager that you wish to be also on the job market.

Magdalena: Show your experience, your strengths, what you can do. Be positive. The LinkedIn tag line is not your status update on Facebook. It’s your professional tag line. Communicate your “immediate need” only to the relevant people. Putting the phrase “I’m looking for a job” on LinkedIn is as efficient as opening your window and screaming it out.

Anna: Make an effort to do your homework. Do the necessary research. Personalize your applications. Target them appropriately. Present yourself uniquely and professionally. That way you demonstrate pro-activity and goal-orientedness instead of desperation and frustration.

The Executive Search Consultants and decision makers we have asked agree that experienced managers should vent their frustrations in a more appropriate venue than their tag lines or public forums.

Of course, there will be some exceptions who can tell a tale of success because of having posted “I’m looking…”. To our mind: they are exceptions. If there is a chance that the phrase will disqualify you, why take the risk?

Remember, the professional tag line is exactly that: your professional marketing message: is your current job search what defines you? Or is the fact that you are an experienced manager?

Explanation to the table:
LI (PL): Linkedin.com, professionals in Poland
LI (intl): Linkedin.com, international
GL: Goldenline.pl
Pilnie szukam pracy: I’m urgently looking for a job
Otwarty na nowe wyzwania: Open to new challenges (men)
Otwarta na nowe wyzwania: Open to new challenges (women)
Szukam pracy: I’m looking for a job