Pros And Cons Of Using LinkedIn’s “Open To Work” Badge

It’s often challenging to find a new role in a crowded job market. Thankfully, there are a myriad of tools out there to help with the journey. For example, LinkedIn has a badge that can be added to your profile to show that you are “Open to Work” and allow recruiters to easily find your profile. There is a similar “Hiring” badge for recruiters with open positions. Oddly, however, this feature is considered controversial.

Making yourself more visible to those with open roles seems like a massive benefit. But detractors believe it makes a job seeker look desperate, among other reasons. We’ll look at both sides of this argument, but only you can decide whether it’s right for you.

What it does

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when many were displaced from their jobs, LinkedIn added an option to attach a green badge to your profile picture with the hashtag #OpenToWork. There are options to have this shown to anyone viewing your profile or just recruiters. Recruiters are able to search specifically for people with this badge turned on.


The main pros of using the badge are its ability to increase your viability and the fact that statistics show it eases your job search.

By allowing a recruiter or hiring manager to specifically search for people who are looking for work, they are able to target those most likely to respond and be a potential fit for their job openings. This cuts out a lot of guesswork in terms of knowing who might be open to a new opportunity.

Fast Company’s Alyse Maguire points out how a job seeker may be exposed to roles, industries, or companies they have no familiarity with. A recruiter may be looking for specific skills and experiences that find a candidate well but that that candidate may be unfamiliar with, leading to mutual benefits for both.

Forbes’ James Hudson adds that the data shows positive results for those with the badge. Those who are “Open to Recruiters” saw a 40% increase in outreach while those with a fully public badge saw a 20% increase in messages received. The badge allows those hiring to find those looking for jobs—on paper, exactly the type of people who need each other.

“I have heard people criticize Open to Work, saying that it’ll make people look needy or desperate or unappealing to a recruiter. I can’t speak for all recruiters, but as a recruiter myself, I actually appreciate the feature. It destigmatizes being an active job seeker vs. a passive one.” –Jenny Foss, JobJenny

A LinkedIn poll of nearly 3,000 recruiters from Hung Lee, creator of Recruiting Brainfood, found that 70% of respondents viewed “Open to Work” as a plus.


So how on earth could an easy-to-use tool that allows the right people to find one another be a bad thing? The badge’s detractors find that using the badge makes a job seeker look desperate (thanks to an unemployment bias) and makes the user more open to scams. Additionally, if you are employed and searching for a new job, your current employer could find out.

“Open to Work” received a lot of negative attention thanks to comments from former Google recruiter Nolan Church on CNBC Make It. Church discussed how it makes a job seeker appear desperate and that he considers it the biggest red flag a job candidate can have.

“There is a truism in recruiting that the best people are not looking for jobs.” -Nolan Church

Writing for LinkedIn, John Tarnoff explains that the badge often highlights that you aren’t currently employed. And recruiters typically prefer to hire someone currently employed over someone unemployed. Tarnoff highlights that recruiters may think someone unemployed is unemployed for good reasons or that they have some sort of baggage making them less appealing. It’s a common if often unconscious bias in recruiting.

In my humble opinion, these sentiments, especially Church’s comments, go a bit too far. First, using the badge doesn’t necessarily mean you’re unemployed—it means you’re open to work. Whether that means you’re seeking a different full-time opportunity, you work part-time and would like more work, or you’re a freelancer, many types of people are open to work.

Secondly, we agree that looking desperate in your job search is not ideal. But the act of needing a job and using the tools available to you is not desperate. Most people don’t have the luxury to be unemployed by choice and should rightly use the tools at their disposal to find a job. Unfortunately, since this bias does exist, it’s up to you whether or not to use the badge.

The point about inviting scams is valid, as people using the badge will likely receive more spam from ne’er-do-wells. And it is true that if your current employer sees that you’re open to work it could lead to an awkward conversation.

“If you’re trying to keep your job search under wraps, using Open To Work on LinkedIn may compromise your confidentiality. Where there is an option to display your Open To Work status only to external recruiters, this isn’t a guarantee of privacy — and if you can see a green badge on your profile, so can your current employer.” –Rohan Mahtani, Resume Worded

Wrap up

The “Open to Work” badge has its supporters and detractors, and it’s unlikely there will be any sort of universal consensus anytime soon. You won’t know what side any recruiter is on until they see your profile. While, personally, I believe the badge is a valuable tool that should be utilized, you’ll have to weigh the arguments yourself and make the right decision for you.

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