There are no good euphemisms for unemployment. Job seekers often suggest they are “in transition” or “looking for the next great opportunity,” but experts say such phrases don’t really sugarcoat things.
This dilemma has become even more important since the advent of LinkedIn, which has turned resumes into public, living documents. Career coaches are divided on how much job seekers should describe their joblessness. Some argue people should instead showcase what they’ve accomplished and what their goals are. And when the euphemisms are included, many suggest they should be part of a longer sentence about one’s experience. When people broadcast their joblessness “it just sounds desperate,” says Pete Leibman, author of “I Got My Dream Job and So Can You.” “I think they’ll be better off if they say something about what they’ve achieved in the past and how they can help employers going forward.“
The headline field on a LinkedIn profile, which career pros say should be a kind of mission statement as well as a job title, can be an especially challenging slot to fill in when a person has no current employer. Leibman recommends writing a line that says what you’ve worked on and who you’ve helped. For instance, even a recruiter in between jobs can use the space to say they’re “an executive recruiter who helps IT companies find top talent,” which would give insight on what they do and what kind of clients they serve. It might also help to list some previous clients or projects you’ve worked on to give recruiters an idea of the scale of the work you’ve accomplished, he says. “You need to stand out from the pack,” says Donna Serdula, author of “LinkedIn Makeover,” a book that offers tips on how people can optimize their profiles.
hose overwhelmed by the idea of crafting their profiles in a way that maximizes their chances of catching a recruiters’ attention can turn to professional help from people like Serdula, who will create a person’s profile for a fee ranging from $300 to $1,000. (The more expensive package includes LinkedIn group connections and mentoring support, among other services.)
Unemployed job seekers can use the “summary” field, often left blank by light LinkedIn users, to say more about their top career accomplishments, says J.T. O’Donnell, chief executive of Careerealism.com, a career-advice and job-search site. Job hunters should avoid vague platitudes about themselves that don’t offer specific examples about their experience or how their project impacted their last employer, says O’Donnell. And they should sprinkle in keywords that appear frequently in the job descriptions they’re interested in, a move that could improve their chances of showing up on recruiters’ searches, says O’Donnell.
Another warning: never, ever, talk about yourself in the third person. A summary starting with “Bill is an aggressive self-motivated worker,” might make a recruiter cringe, says O’Donnell . Instead, use the space to highlight major skill sets and career accomplishments. If you ramped up a company’s sales, or headed a revenue-generating campaign, say so and provide figures, she says. And be concise, making sure your entire summary takes up no more than two-thirds of a computer screen, she says.