When Should I Update My LinkedIn Status?

Q: I was recently let go after being with a company for 11 months. My dilemma is whether to immediately update my status on my LinkedIn profile. While I’d like people to know I’m looking for work, I have also heard that recruiters are much more likely to contact someone who is still employed. Also, can I list my time with the company as a year even thought I was only there 11 months?

– Santa Barbara, Calif.

A: Your two questions are really asking the same thing: Is it ever OK to fudge the truth when looking for a job?

The simple answer is no. The moment you do that and a recruiter and/or potential hiring manager gets wind of it (and trust me, they will at some point along the way), you’ve planted the seed of doubt in their mind regarding your trustworthiness.

Think of this way: “It looks worse if a recruiter calls you thinking you’re still at Company X and you have to break the news that you’ve left,” says Nona K. Footz, managing director of executive recruiting firm RSR Partners in Greenwich, Conn.

You are right that in the past recruiters often passed on candidates who were “on the beach” (A.K.A. out of work), according to Footz. “But the market has changed, and as long as there is a positive story as to why you were let go, you should not be afraid to be transparent with your situation.”

Plus, she says, 11 months isn’t a very long tenure and that could have the unintended effect of deterring recruiters who may feel it’s too soon to coax you away. Be upfront about your status and you may find you get increased interest from recruiters.

By not updating your profile, you’re missing out on networking opportunities, says LinkedIn spokesperson Krista Canfield. “Your network can’t be your eyes and ears if [contacts] don’t even know that you’re looking for a new gig,” she says. “If [people] think you’re still [in] your previous role, why would they think to slide opportunities over to you?”

Finally, don’t be vague on the details. When it comes to listing how long you were at the company, technically you can’t say a year, says Footz. List the actual months you were there (Jan. to Dec. 2011, for example) as opposed to putting 2011-2012 and making recruiters guess. “The bottom line on this is to go for specifics and don’t make it a ‘rounding error,” says Ms. Footz.