Contractors’ Questions: Does using 'Open to Work' on LinkedIn make me look desperate?

Contractor’s Question: Like many contractors on the bench, I’ve inserted the ‘open to work’ badge into my LinkedIn profile picture. Just a thought though – does it make me look desperate to be hired and therefore, could it actually deter offers?

Expert’s Answer: As you probably know, LinkedIn introduced the ‘Open to Work’ badge earlier in this year of coronavirus and ever since, there’s been heated debate over its merits.

It’s been a long-held view by the recruitment industry that a passive job-seeker is, paradoxically, more attractive than an active job seeker, on the basis that parading your availability to the world, smacks of desperation. Whether the same view can be applicable to the contract market is debatable, as one would think that a contractor being ‘open to work’ is actually a good thing.

Not everyone has to see your green badge

Luckily, there is a way to circumnavigate this issue which renders the debate almost moot. When you explore the Open to Work feature on your LinkedIn profile through the blue ‘Add profile section’ button (go to the Intro section and click ‘Looking for a new job’), it gives you the option to ‘Choose who sees you’re open’. If you choose to ‘Share with recruiters only’ opposed to ‘Share with all LinkedIn members’, it will notify recruiters who are using this filter in their LinkedIn Recruiter searches – but, importantly, it won’t add the green badge to your profile and broadcast your availability to the rest of the world!

This may be a better option for those who want to promote their availability without the stigma of looking desperate for work.

An IR35-friendly option on LinkedIn

While you are exploring this functionality, you may also notice that LinkedIn gives two options - the afore-mentioned ‘Looking for a new job’ setting, and the ‘Providing services to clients’ setting. If we are thinking about IR35 (and let’s face it, we all need to be with next year fast-approaching), the latter would make much more sense. It may not have been LinkedIn’s intention for a contractor to select this option to help reinforce their ‘outside IR35’ position, but in my book, it is much more consistent with operating outside the off-payroll rules.

Unfortunately though, this isn’t what recruiters and hiring managers (clients) in the contract market will be filtering, when doing their searches, so this poses a juxtaposition – do you optimise your LinkedIn profile for your channels to market or do you pander to the tax man, doing your utmost to project a ‘true business’ status?!

Wonder, and interest

As I write this, I’m wondering if LinkedIn allows you to utilise both options concurrently or if it is a simple one-or-the-other option. If you’ve tried to use both features at once, please – in the spirit of LinkedIn -- share in the 'comments' section (when this piece appears on LI) what you have found!

By the way, if selling yourself in this challenging post-pandemic market is important to you, you may be interested in the Contractor UK LinkedIn Mastery webinar – it’s this Thursday October 22nd at 7.15pm. This free event for ContractorUK readers is on how to write a high-impact LinkedIn profile. During the session, we will perform a number of live critiques of real-life LinkedIn profiles! You can even submit yours for review by emailing [email protected] -- and you can register for the webinar here:

The expert was Matt Craven, founder and winning-work expert at The CV & Interview Advisors.

Wednesday 21st Oct 2020
Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Sign up to our newsletter

Receive weekly contractor news, advice and updates.

Every sign up will be entered into a draw to WIN £100 Amazon Vouchers.

* indicates required