Pros & cons of the #OpenToWork banner on LinkedIn, Tips from an Executive Recruiter

The best way to use #OpenToWork banner on LinkedIn - Tips from Executive Recruiter, Michelle You ©
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The green #OpenToWork banner on LinkedIn profile photo is designed to help job seekers get noticed and land a job faster. But, the reality is complicated. LinkedIn data said that it’s beneficial for job seekers, but some recruiters and coaches are against it. What should you do? Banner or no banner? Keep reading to find out my strategy for this controversial issue from an Executive Recruiter's point of view. Follow on LinkedIn for free career advice.

Turn on the “Open to work” feature

I highly recommend job seekers or anyone who is interested in new opportunities to turn on the “Open to work” feature on your LinkedIn profile. You can add job preferences including Job titles, Workplaces, Job locations, Start date, and Job types. This will improve your job recommendations from LinkedIn and turn on job alerts matching your preferences, so that you can apply early when a suitable job is posted on LinkedIn.

There are two options for you to choose who can see this:

  1. All LinkedIn members: This also includes recruiters and people at your current company. The #OpenToWork green banner will be added automatically to your photo.

  2. Recruiters only: People using LinkedIn Recruiter (a paid LinkedIn product). Recruiters at your current company and related companies will be excluded to protect your privacy. No banner on your photo.

Should you use the “OpenToWork” banner?

If you’re currently employed and don’t want your boss and colleagues to know about this, the no banner option is an obvious choice. 

If you’re out of a job due to layoff or other reasons, when you’re actively looking, you should put up the “OpenToWork” banner publicly, right? Well, it depends. The following are the pros and cons of using the #OpenToWork banner and my strategy for you to get the benefits of both options.

Pros of the “OpenToWork” banner:

  1. It’s the most efficient way to broadcast that you’re looking for new opportunities. It’s public and eye-catching, you can also send out a standard or customized (recommended) message to all LinkedIn members.

  1. It’s the best way to get support on LinkedIn from people in your network or even outside of your network. They can add CFBR (Commenting For Better Reach) and hopefully someone knows about some opportunities that may be helpful for you. I believe that many professionals on LinkedIn genuinely want to help others without anything in return. 

  1. Some recruiters may contact you directly. LinkedIn recommends job seekers to use the “Open To Work” banner and said that “our data show that they are, on average, 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters”. 

Cons of the “OpenToWork” banner:

  1. You may become an easy target of spammers or a victim of fake job offers. Nowadays, there are many fake LinkedIn profiles and many of them pretend to be executives at big companies or founders of fake start-ups. I have heard different stories about fake job offers too. 

So, you have to be very careful, always do your due diligence, and make sure people contact you are who they say they are, and the job opportunities are legitimate. 

Read my tips on how to deal with strangers on LinkedIn.

  1. Many people believe that the banner will make you look “too available” and make you somewhat look like a desperate job seeker. Doesn’t matter whether they’re right or wrong about it, once people get this first impression about you, psychologically, it'll be very hard for them to get rid of the image of a desperate job seeker from their minds.  Read the related post - The science every professional should learn to prepare for your next career move.

As a consequence, they may be inclined to judge you based on the negative stereotypes of a desperate job seeker which will be very harmful for your job hunter. For example, they may assume that your motivation for their jobs is not career oriented but just to get a paycheck quickly, or they may be wondering if you would do anything to get a job, including exaggerating too much on your resume. In this case, it'll be very hard for you to convince them that you’re the right candidate for their jobs. 

Strategy to get the benefits of both options

How to deal with this dilemma? Should you add the “Open To Work'' banner on your LinkedIn profile photo? My strategy for job seekers is to take advantage of the benefits of both options and mitigate the potential negative impact to your job hunting by following the steps below:

1. Add the green #OpenToWork banner at the beginning of your job hunting. Take advantage of the public effect to reach out to as many people as possible. Send out a customized message (not the standard one provided by LinkedIn) to briefly but clearly state your core skills and achievements and what opportunities you’re looking for, and ask for referrals and CFBR (Commenting For Better Reach). 

Both statistics and experiences tell us that applying for a job through a referral will substantially increase your chances to get a job interview and get hired too.

2. Observe the effect for a period of time. Usually, the marketing effect may die down within a couple of weeks. If you feel that it really helps you get more opportunities, leave the banner on for a little longer. Otherwise, there may not be much benefit left for you to continue wearing the banner. 

3. Remove the #OpenToWork banner when your inMail box becomes too quiet. Switch to the second option to show the “Open to Work'' status to recruiters only without the banner. You can let people know that you're open to work in the About section.  

4. Make your profile search engine friendly so that recruiters can find you. Use my tips on how to make your resume ATS friendly to optimize the content and keywords of your LinkedIn profile.

To learn more tips on resumes, read this related post - How to customize your resume for a job to stand out? A comprehensive tutorial & tips from from an executive recruiter.  

5. Actively networking online and offline. Don’t wait for recruiters’ messages, you can reach out to them with a well polished LinkedIn profile. In the meantime, actively network online and offline with professionals in your fields who are more likely to come across a suitable opportunity for you.  

The essence of my strategy is to take advantage of the #OpenToWork banner for a short period of time until it may do more harm than good to you, then switch and start to enjoy the benefit of no banner option on LinkedIn for as long as needed. 

Depending on your background, job preferences, your industry, and more importantly, the demand for your skills and experiences, each job seeker may experience different effects with or without the banner. Using #OpenToWork banner strategically, you can enjoy the benefits of both options and adjust to your own situation accordingly.

If you want to land a job on LinkedIn, you need to continue optimizing your LinkedIn profile based on the jobs you have been applying for. Learn more tips on jobs and resumes here on, and follow us for free career advice to help you land a job faster. 

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