Lessons from AMA Chicago’s Career Connections Event

Two of the biggest advocates for job seekers are recruiters and career coaches: but what’s the difference between the two roles? Do they share the same perspectives on the job search, or offer different viewpoints and advice? These are the questions that recruiter MaryAnn Gibney and Career Coach Martin McGovern sought to answer at AMA Chicago’s Career Connections Event. And between the two of them, they have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share. MaryAnn is LinkedIn’s Senior Program Manager of Talent Acquisition Excellence and has deep roots in the recruiting world. Martin is the Founder and Lead Career Coach at Career Therapy in addition to being a podcaster and workshop facilitator. 

Through a lively and candid discussion, the two tackled some of the most intriguing and in-demand career topics and questions from our audience. Here are the highlights: 

LinkedIn’s “Open to work” feature helps you get discovered by recruiters 

As the world’s leading professional network, LinkedIn is a huge resource for job seekers in the Chicago area and beyond. One of the most impactful tools is the “Open to” feature located on the profile page. 

Not all of LinkedIn’s features are as widely loved as the back-end feature. Another feature – the #OpenToWork profile picture badge colloquially known as the “green swish” – is a bit more controversial. According to Martin, “It’s like wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Please hire me.’ It’s too much.” He builds on that, saying “from a branding perspective, it looks desperate. And a lot of the job search is about not looking desperate. It’s about being confident.’’ Instead, he recommends playing it safe by saying you’re “open to work” on the back end, but skipping the profile badge. 

Tell your story (and be sure to include some keywords!)

Whether you’re a veteran in your field or looking for your first big break, you have a story to tell – and it’s one recruiters want to hear! MaryAnn explains, “When I’m looking through profiles, I’m looking to see: Is this someone who I would want working at LinkedIn with me? Do they have a great excerpt about themself that makes them seem interesting and confident? Do they have a nice, detailed overview of what they’ve been up to?” Your story not only communicates to the recruiter why you’re qualified for a job, but also gives you the opportunity to explain unique circumstances like job changes, resume gaps, and time-off for school. 

Martin adds, “Every story should focus on the positives. What did you learn from that experience that you’re going to apply in your next role.” For example, saying “I left this company because I had a bad manager – bad story. I left this company because I wanted more experience doing X,Y, and Z – good story.” 

Keep in mind: every story should feature keywords. Keywords are core terms related to your skillset and target job description. To raise your visibility, it’s essential to include keywords throughout your profile, from the body to the headline. There’s a very important reason for this: “No recruiter sits down writing ‘open to work’ or ‘seeking employment,’” Martin explains. “They’re typing project manager or marketing strategist. So if your headline says ‘open to work’ or ‘jobseeking’ or ‘trying to break into the field,’ these are all things that hurt your chances of being found in a confident way.”

Employment gaps aren’t the career killers they used to be 

Until recently, resume gaps often posed a major hurdle for job seekers. In a similar vein, candidates who were currently employed seemed to have a major leg up on unemployed job seekers. Fortunately, that’s all changing. “All rules went out the window two years ago,” explains MaryAnne. Employers are more open-minded to things that were once considered turn-offs or red flags, like job hopping and career breaks. Martin adds that there are some clever ways to window-dress an unemployment gap, including adding the section to your LinkedIn profile – see his full response in this clip.

Don’t be shy about asking for post-interview feedback

One of the most disheartening aspects of a job search is receiving rejection after rejection without understanding what you did “wrong.” After all, it’s difficult to adjust course if you don’t know what’s pushing you off track in the first place. For this reason, it can be extremely valuable to follow up with your recruiter if the opportunity doesn’t pan out. MaryAnn welcomes the chance to debrief with job seekers. She recommends reaching out via email with a simple message like, “Thanks for your time during the interview process. I’m looking to improve – is there anything I could have done differently? Any feedback you’re open to providing?” This opens the door to receiving valuable feedback that can help you make game-changing improvements to your interview style, presentation skills, or overall qualifications. 

Now it’s your turn! 

Now that you’ve learned some tips, tricks, and best practices from Martin and MaryAnn, it’s time to put them into practice! After you’ve updated your LinkedIn profile and resume, be sure to check out the AMA Chicago job board. Home to thousands of marketing and advertising jobs for professionals of all levels, we’re confident you’ll find some wonderful opportunities – and have a recruiter-approved application to share!

Submit Your Article

Submit your idea for one of our monthly guest writer spots.