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Job Seekers: How to Use the ‘Open to Work’ on LinkedIn

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“If you were open to work, what would you do, thinking of the ‘Open to Work’ on LinkedIn feature?” This question, posed by our recruiter Benarda Hasa to her LinkedIn network (mostly composed of games industry professionals, as we are a gamedev recruitment agency), garnered 1055 votes.

51% indicated they would use the ‘Open to Work’ banner,

31% preferred it visible to recruiters only,

and 17% would opt to quietly seek opportunities.

As the green banner is heavily discussed among job seekers and HR professionals alike, we sometimes hear claims that using it could decrease your chances of landing a new job. How so? Apparently, there’s a prevalent anxiety among job seekers that recruiters perceive displaying the OTW badge as “desperate” or as an indication that you were laid off (as if being laid off were a personal failure). This stigma makes people hesitant to use the badge. We want to elaborate on that, giving space to various perspectives. Let’s begin with some basic info and technicalities.

Why was the Open to Work on LinkedIn Created?

LinkedIn launched the ‘Open to Work’ feature in June 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, to assist job seekers in signaling their availability to recruiters and potential employers. This feature allows users to add an #OpenToWork badge to their profile picture, specifying their desired job type, function, industry, and location.

How to Set an ‘Open to Work’ Feature on LinkedIn?

1. Open your LinkedIn profile.

2. Below your basic information, click the navy blue “Open To” button.

3. From the drop-down menu, select “Finding a new job.”

4. Set your preferences, such as job titles, location types (on-site or remote), on-site locations you’re willing to consider, preferred start date, and employment types.

5. Decide if you want this feature visible to all LinkedIn members (with the green badge) or only to recruiters using LinkedIn Recruiter (no badge).

6. Save your settings.

OTW Visibility – is it Better to Make it for Recruiters Only?

After sharing our poll, one of our followers commented, “Just learned from your poll that enabling it for recruiters only is actually an option”- a feature that many were unaware of.

The public debate often centers around the highly visible green badge on the profile picture, while the more discreet option has always been available. This setting is ideal for those casually browsing the job market. However, if you are actively searching for a new position, keep in mind that enabling this feature for recruiters only does exactly that – it restricts the visibility of your Open to Work status to LinkedIn Recruiter users.

Practically, this means that other key players in the hiring process, such as hiring managers or business owners (particularly in indie game studios who handle their own recruitment), will not be able to see your badge.

Does LinkedIn’s Algorithm Boost Users with an Open to Work Badge?

We typically discuss LinkedIn algo from the perspective of the feed. According to our search, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that LinkedIn’s algorithm boosts the visibility of profiles featuring the OTW badge in feeds, and we don’t consider this the primary metric of success.

What is crucial for job seekers is whether the OTW badge increases the number of contacts from recruiters. According to LinkedIn itself, members with a public #OpenToWork photo frame are 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters, though it’s important to note that this statistic comes from research conducted in the four months following the feature’s release in 2020. Would be great to see an update!

User Experiences with the OTW Public Badge

User experiences with the public OTW badge vary significantly. Elisa Moriconi, Senior Concept Artist, shares her observations:

“When I have it on but hidden not much happens, I am contacted by recruiters every now and then but nothing particularly out of the ordinary. Then again, when I turn the official badge on the traffic on my posts (even from some days before) immediately increases and I am contacted more often and even seen more from my own network. (…) I think, that’s what I’m supposing at least, that LinkedIn has a priority algorithm, if you are making a public declaration you are most likely inclined to engage more with the platform as active searcher and exactly as any social media they know that you can be attracted and lured in more often by notifications. Heightening the visibility of your posts have the same results, your traffic increases and you interact more and connect more people and that way the platform thrives.”

Conversely, another user recounts a different experience:

“To be honest, while I was at my worst and desperate for a job, I had the ‘Open To Work’ banner out in the open. Almost completely ignored. When I removed it, I got more views on my profile from different recruiting profiles. It’s mindblowing to me.”

While we haven’t tested the green one, as a gamedev recruitment agency, we’ve experimented with the purple ‘Hiring’ frame, indicating we are actively seeking candidates. With mixed results.

Testing the ‘Open to Work’ Feature and Giving it an Extra Boost

We recommend noting when you enable the feature and setting a reminder to review its effectiveness after 4-6 weeks. Compare the results of using the full visibility feature, the limited visibility option, and without the badge. Displaying that you’re on the lookout for a new role via OTW is not an act of desperation. It’s a strategic tool that can significantly enhance your job search. To further increase your visibility, consider crafting a compelling OTW LinkedIn post.