Seeking New Opportunities


Today I’m rebutting the assertion in this (and many similar) article headlines:

Why ‘seeking new opportunities’ should never be your LinkedIn professional headline!

Your LinkedIn headline should sell a more accurate version of yourself than the article above’s headline sells of itself. If you read this headline you quite probably got the impression that you shouldn’t use the work “Seeking” in your headline. The article is really about writing a good, strong headline, with which I agree. Because it has valid points, I’ve selected it for you to read (the video is a little tedious). But what I disagree with (and why I didn’t bother including other articles that support it) is the headline discouraging the word “Seeking.”  If you are unemployed, I encourage using it. Even if you are employed and job-searching, I would encourage working the word into your headline subtly or even coyly, as in “In-house Compliance Counsel seeking to help my client comply with HIPPA.”

First, the guy wiring the article linked above is from the UK, and I’m from America, and although we have many similarities, hiring processes can be surprisingly different. Be careful applying any foreign job-search advice in the US, and vice versa.

Second, the author touts his 10+ years of experience as a professional recruiter. By ‘professional recruiter’ he means someone who was paid a contingency fee if a candidate he provided was hired by his client. That fee was likely some percentage of the candidate’s annual starting salary. My experience with recruiting, has been, and continues to be, as an in-house recruiter, although from time to time we engage contingency recruiters. Again surprisingly, the experience can be different, and as a candidate you should understand the biases.

Both in-house and contingency recruiters are aligned in looking for qualified candidates. However, their second-tier drivers start to diverge. Contingency recruiters want to place the highest salary candidates they can, because that increases their contingency fee amount. In-house recruiters, while they want to minimize costs of the hiring process (which often comes out of their budget), are more neutral on salary (which comes out of the hiring manager’s budget), but if anything, they want to minimize it. A metric that is more important for in-house recruiters than candidate salaries is “speed to hire.”

If you are unemployed, this distinction is critical in the difference between how your profile will be vetted by an in-house recruiter versus a contingency fee recruiter. As an in-house recruiter I frequently use the words “seeking,” “available,” “opportunity,” and even “ISO” (in search of) as part of my candidate profile search terms. Why? Because unemployed candidates are much, much faster hires.

  1. If I message an unemployed candidate on LinkedIn, he or she usually responds the same day, often within minutes. It’s because unemployed candidates are always checking their LinkedIn, and have the messages coming to their primary email. Employed candidates usually take a few days to respond; some employed candidates never respond because they haven’t updated their profile since the last time they were looking for a job, and LinkedIn still directs messages to their old work email. On average, this is about a 2 day advantage to the unemployed candidate.
  2. Then if I want to schedule a phone or Skype screening interview, unemployed candidates are available this afternoon, any time that’s convenient for me. Employed candidates have to schedule in the evening, after they commute home, if they’re not working late, and they don’t have to take their kids to practice. On average, add another day of delay.
  3. When I schedule them for an in-person interview, unemployed candidates can be here tomorrow, even if I have to fly them in. Employed candidates have to get their supervisor’s permission to take a PTO day, and they want to get in and out the same day, so they only have to take one day of PTO. They are also time constrained when they are interviewing, so I have to change company meetings around so key people can meet them. Unemployed candidates can meet at our pace, at our convenience, and they can spend the night at a nearby hotel, so we can have dinner with them and see them in social contexts. Add an average of 3 days delay to the employed candidate, not too mention more opportunity for social interaction.
  4. Scheduling the second interview, even just a quick meeting with the CEO, can be difficult with employed candidates who don’t want to go back to their supervisor to request another day off on the heels of the first interview.  Add a another 7 days of delay.
  5. Compensation negotiation can be difficult and time consuming with an employed candidate, especially if a recruiter who wants to maximize the offer is involved.  The truth is, the unemployed candidate has little or no bargaining power, so negotiations are minimal.  Add 5 days off delay.
  6. Most companies do drug screen/background checks on their proposed hires.  Employed candidates, very reasonably, don’t want to give notice to their current employer until they have passed all the screening.  Unemployed candidates have nothing to lose, so employers can start them immediately, with continued employment contingent on passing the screens.  Add 10 days to employed candidates.
  7. Employed candidates have to give 2 week’s notice.  Their former employers often ask for more.  Add an average of 12 days.
  8. Employed candidates receive counter-offers. It’s rare that a candidate takes a counter-offer, but they can result in matching the higher offer, and possibly further negotiation delays.  If the employed candidate accepts the counter-offer, if often means the candidate was playing the market to coax his current employer into a raise.  For the in-house recruiter it means starting over.  Unemployed candidates almost never get simultaneous offers.

So even if you are an employed candidate, if you are looking for a new position, recognize that speed-to-hire focused in-house recruiters will be using the term “seeking” in their search terms to locate candidates.  If you want to improve your chances of being in that selected pool, work the word ‘seeking’ subtly into your headline.


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