The green “open to work” banner on LinkedIn: The debate

There have been many discussions on LinkedIn and on the internet more widely, whether the green “open to work” banner on LinkedIn signifies desperation, or whether it is a powerful tool that assists both the recruiter and the candidate. Is ‘desperate’ how many recruiters view this banner, and if so, is this fair? The current market is tough for both businesses and employees, so should both sides be utilising all possible tools? It is important to remember that LinkedIn introduced this feature with good intentions; but have some people lost sight of the purpose?

One side of the coin sees the green “open to work” banner as a tool on a platform that is utilised by recruiters to find potential candidates for roles. The banner can be seen as an invitation to collaborate and help one another succeed. It is a sign of ambition and determination, expressing that you are open to growing and seizing new opportunities. It can be seen as a way to communicate, without communicating – it is a statement that welcomes others to reach out and start a conversation that can result in a positive outcome for both parties. Signifying through this banner is an honest and transparent way to communicate their current career status, and in a world where networking and professional branding are essential, transparency can be a valuable asset.

On the other hand, some argue that the “open to work” banner does the exact opposite of what you would hope for it to do. This perception believes the banner sends out a message that you are open to pretty much any job and therefore not giving off the best impression to recruiters. By advertising you are “open to work”, the job seeker may appear less confident or capable, and potentially jeopardise their chances of landing a job. There is also the concern that openly declaring you are seeking employment, might lead to lower salary offers. The question is how many recruiters hold this view toward the LinkedIn banner? Does it not help recruiters understand you are open to a discussion on new opportunities? Does this perspective signify that recruiters are judging those who are looking for employment? There are some obvious issues with labelling the “open to work” banner as desperate, as it has the potential to perpetuate a negative stereotype about job seekers. In today’s rapidly changing job market, job transitions are becoming more common, and many professionals may find themselves in the position of actively seeking new opportunities multiple times throughout their careers. This perception of desperation can stigmatise job seekers and create unnecessary barriers for those genuinely looking for the next step in their career.

A former Google recruiter, Nolan Church, exclaimed that this “open to work” banner is the “biggest red flag” to hiring managers as it suggests desperation, as the individual would consider taking any role offered. Part of this feature allows for users to choose whether it is visible only to recruiters, or to anyone. As a hiring manager, since this tool exists, one would assume they would be attracted to having a conversation with a potential candidate who advertised themselves as ‘open to work’ rather than aimlessly approaching someone. Is it not an effective time-saving tool? The fact this conversation and debate is ongoing, tells us this may be an issue that needs to be tackled within recruitment teams. For example, if recruiters must interview an individual who they know displayed this banner on LinkedIn, is there a bias there that can sway fair judgment? Part of human nature is that we use first impressions to make assumptions on someone before we are fully acquainted with them. Would it be fair to assume that recruiters with this bias will go in to interview a candidate who used the “open to work” banner, and search for ways to confirm their negative premeditated assumptions? Not to mention we are in a cost-of-living crisis where many people simply cannot afford to be out of work and need to pay their bills. Should people be embarrassed to advertise that they need to find work?

It is fair to say that there is always variation in the way one can look at a situation as it comes down to personal opinion. However, we must be prepared to challenge ourselves and others; is their judgment fair? Are they right, or wrong?

Which side of the debate do you sit on?

Written by Izzy McHattie, EP Business in Hospitality