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Here’s When It’s A (Really) Bad Idea to Call Yourself a Consultant on LinkedIn

By J.T. O’Donnell


Even though we have an extremely low unemployment rate in the U.S. right now, there are still lots of people between jobs. Layoffs and restructurings happen every day. And, many say a market correction is on the horizon that will send the unemployment rate back up a bit.

For those actively seeking a new opportunity, it’s really important their LinkedIn profiles be optimized – and that’s not an easy thing. Knowing what to put (and NOT to put) on LinkedIn can be daunting. For example, you might assume announcing you’re “actively seeking opportunities” would be a good idea, right? Wrong. Studies show it actually works against you. After looking over thousands of profiles on LinkedIn, recruiters have formed biases against certain things they see. Which leads the the challenge with “consultants.”

There are 2 types of consultants on LinkedIn, real and fake.

Many unemployed folks are making the grave mistake of putting “consultant” as their current job title. I assume this comes from a concern around their profile not being seen as 100 percent complete. And therefore, fear they’re not showing up in recruiter searches for someone with their skills. This is a false assumption. You don’t need a current position to get found.

Recruiters find placeholder job titles on LinkedIn annoying.

When you list consultant as placeholder and then have some generic text underneath summarizing what you do, it makes a negative first impression. It comes across as trying to game the system. Recruiters much prefer you just make your last job the most recent. And, that you quantify your accomplishments so they can validate your experience. When it comes to our LinkedIn profile, transparency is your best option.

P.S. When you act worried about your employment gap, you give hiring managers a reason to worry too.

Everyone experiences times in their careers when they’re between jobs. It happens. How you handle it will determine how long that gap is. If you act like there’s something wrong with you, that’s what hiring managers will assume. Don’t try to explain yourself on your LinkedIn profile or resume because it makes you look desperate. Employers will still contact you if they are impressed with your past accomplishments. Then, the key is to objectively explain what’s caused the gap, what you’ve learned from the experience, and how you are using experience to grow as a professional. Knowing how to properly answer the behavioral question, “What have you been doing since you left your last job?” is vital to gaining a hiring manager’s trust so they’ll hire you.

This piece was originally published by Inc. 

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