I got this question from a past client recently, regarding his online profiles.
‘Hi, Sean, I’m looking at my online profile. Do you feel I should show I am not working in a corporate role currently? Upfront and honest? At this stage I have just listed my shell consulting company and contract projects. I’m concerned it may stop approaches from people wanting to potentially contact me for a senior role.’
As with all questions, there are some assumptions underlying this line of enquiry. The assumptions are normal but lead to more agonising over the Linkedin profile than is perhaps necessary.
Perceptions or Truth?
First there is the assumption that you must craft the reader’s perception of you in some kind of rosy glow. The truth might be too complicate or give the impression that you’re not employed.
But if this is the truth, why hide it? A recruiter would (I hope) be more put off by discovering you had dissembled in your profile than by the not uncommon fact that between roles you’ve found interesting projects to do. What is more important, your integrity or your surface appearance? If your profile is attractive, but not true, it will attract a lot of irrelevant people and time-wasting conversations.
Negative or Positive?
Now, someone who has had the gumption to set up a company – even if it starts as a ‘shell’ company – is demonstrating initiative and willingness to take advice that a company is more effective than acting as a sole trader. This is especially true if you are at executive level as you’ll eventually need to quarantine and separate your project activities from your next role.
Free or Busy?
Good organisations and good recruiters seek talent and are not put off by people who are free, even if this is because they left under a dark cloud. They know the cut and thrust of executive life can throw good people around. They are also not put off if you’re busy; quite the contrary. So a good portfolio of contracts can be as good a demonstration of your talents as a well-defined senior role.
Strategic integrity wins
Your Linkedin profile tells two stories, the facts, and tone around the facts. Garnishing the facts will be found out and a false tone will only attract the wrong audience. Even if it’s complicated, and not ‘perfect’, be yourself and you’ll be better understood.
Remember, your Linkedin profile is one way in which the concept of the CV has developed over the last few years into an online document as well as an historical one. Even if it looks like ‘marketing’, it still benefits from being true. When you present yourself with integrity, you are in control of your transition process and pursuing a career strategy, rather than a job search.