LinkedIn Open to Work: Meaning & How to Use

By Biron Clark



Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

LinkedIn has long held pride of place as the world’s biggest and most vibrant professional networking site. Year by year, new features are added that allow ambitious self-starters to engage with cutting-edge Stories, Feeds, Groups, Audio Events, Showcase Pages, Courses, and more. Users can flaunt their professional profiles, skills and endorsements while expanding their network day in and day out. However, what about actually getting recruited? 

LinkedIn now has a feature called Open To Work that you can use to let recruiters know you’re open to job opportunities.

You can use this feature to signal recruiters that you’re open to jobs without your current company seeing it… at least in theory. But does it really work?

What Is Linkedin’s Open to Work Feature?

LinkedIn has recently introduced a 100% free feature that allows all users, paid and unpaid, to make their LinkedIn Profile more accessible to recruiters hunting for candidates. 

Let’s face it, a great many professionals are not actively looking for work but would be “open to work” should a great opportunity come their way. That’s why this new feature is called the “Open To Work” status feature, and it basically allows you to display an “Open To Work” status on your profile image when you are open to new (and better) opportunities.

LinkedIn prevents recruiters at your own company from seeing the badge, which is handy in terms of privacy and general awkwardness-prevention

LinkedIn also offers two options for who to display your “Open To Work” status to, including:

  1. display your “Open to Work” status to all LinkedIn members
  2. or, display the badge to LinkedIn’s paying recruiter-members only. 

The latter is by far the better option, as it weeds out the weirdos and ensures that real recruiters from leading companies (who actually filter their applicant searches with this option) get their eye on your profile.

Now, to take the LinkedIn Open To Work feature’s functionality even further, LinkedIn has added a drop-down menu to the blue “Open To” button. To explore the feature, click the “Open To” button  (which is located under your picture and basic details on your Profile page), then select from:

  • Finding a new job: depending on the option you select, this will show recruiters or all members that you are open to work.
  • Hiring: this will show that you are actively hiring and will attract qualified candidates.
  • Providing services: this allows you to showcase services you offer so that new clients can discover you easier.

Let’s look at how to turn on Open To Work (previously called LinkedIn Open Candidates) and how to best use it.

Watch: What Is Linkedin’s Open to Work Feature?

How to Tell Recruiters You’re Open to Work on LinkedIn

First, let’s look at LinkedIn’s recommended steps for letting recruiters know you’re open to a new job and exactly what the Open To Work feature will do for your profile.

To enable Open To Work from your LinkedIn profile, click the “Me” icon at the top of your screen.

How to turn on LinkedIn open to work

Then, click “View profile” to pull up your own LinkedIn profile page.

Below your name and title, find the “Open to” button, click to open the drop-down options, and select “Finding a new job”

LinkedIn open to work - how to enable

LinkedIn will then provide a pop-up window for you to select job titles you’re interested in, job locations you prefer, and the type of job you want (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.)

Finally, LinkedIn gives you the option to choose who sees that you’re open to new job offers:

  1. “All LinkedIn members” which puts a green #OpenToWork badge around your profile image for all to see.
  2. “Recruiters only” which will only show people using LinkedIn Recruiter from outside of your current organization that you’re open to a new job.

LinkedIn - let recruiters know you're open to jobs

Click “Add to profile” to save and activate the settings, and you’re done. You can return to this settings page to deactivate Open To Work at any time if you’re no longer looking for a job or don’t want to show up in searches performed by recruiters.

How to Turn Off Looking for Jobs on LinkedIn

To reverse the steps above and turn off Open To Work on LinkedIn to stop showing recruiters that you’re looking for jobs, navigate to your profile and find the “Open to work” box under your name and headline.

turn off looking for jobs on LinkedIn

Click the pencil icon to open the settings, and select, “Delete from profile.” The page will refresh and your profile will no longer indicate that you’re looking for jobs.

What Happens Once You’re Using Open To Work?

Once you activate Open To Work on LinkedIn, your information will be shared with recruiters looking for professional talent in the areas you indicated. In addition to expanding your job search by allowing a wide variety of recruiters to see your information, your signal is “hidden” from recruiters at the company you’re currently working at, as well as partner companies.

Flaws in the Feature

Just as there is an upside to Open To Work, there are some drawbacks and limitations to know about.

First, if you choose the “Recruiters only” option for who should see that you’re open to work, then only subscribers to LinkedIn’s premium LinkedIn Recruiter membership will see that you’re open to jobs on your LinkedIn profile. Many smaller companies and recruiting firms may not receive your signal, since LinkedIn Recruiter is a paid subscription and it’s possible some smaller companies are still not using it.

The other issue with the system is that while the feature “hides” your signal from your current employer, there’s still a way they could find out you’re job searching. If divisions of your current company are listed on LinkedIn as a separate company, they may still receive your signal.

Third-party recruiters that may have your company as a client could also see that you are in the market for a new job. Plus, if your boss has friends in other companies with a subscription to the recruiter services, he or she could simply ask them to find out if any of their employees are on the hunt for a new job.

If you are worried about your boss finding out that you are looking, the “Recruiters only” feature is a good option but isn’t a guaranteed privacy solution.

Further Steps to Prevent LinkedIn from Showing Your Employer that You’re Job Searching

The only way to guarantee complete privacy on LinkedIn while job searching is to conduct your search via direct messages/emails (to recruiters and your network) and to directly apply to positions.

So while LinkedIn’s software makes its best attempt to hide the fact that you’re open to new opportunities from any recruiters at your current employer, it’s possible that it could fail. If you’re worried about job search privacy and want to protect your career interests with no risk, then think twice before enabling this new feature.

The advantage is that it could potentially speed up your job search and get you into more recruiter search results, but it’s important to understand the potential risk.

Who Can Use LinkedIn’s Open To Work?

LinkedIn’s Open To Work can be used on any desktop or mobile device and is a global feature, so you don’t need to be in the United States to use it. You also don’t need to be a paying member to use it; even with a free LinkedIn account, which the majority of job seekers are using, you can let recruiters know that you’re job searching.

More Ways to Use LinkedIn to Find Job Opportunities

Reach Out to Recruiters Directly

Along with using LinkedIn’s new Open To Work feature, there are a couple of other ways I recommend using the platform to find work.

First, you can let recruiters know directly that you’re interested in job opportunities, by sending a direct message about a job on LinkedIn. If you prefer, you can email recruiters, too. That’s right, you don’t have to wait for them to contact you. If you do reach out to recruiters, just make sure you’re targeting recruiters who specialize in your desired area of work. Most recruiters have a specialization and they’re not going to reply to your message if you appear to be just sending out a generic message to every recruiter you can find on LinkedIn.

Utilize LinkedIn Learning

Another career tool offered to professionals is LinkedIn Learning. The program allows you to take a variety of courses to beef up your existing skills and teach you new ones at the same time. The short and easy-to-follow courses range from “WordPress Essential Training” to “How to Write a Press Release.”

You can even take a course on “Making Recruiters Come to You.” When you freshen your skills and learn new ones, you can add them to your resume. This will draw more interest to you as a potential candidate and make you more appealing to recruiters. I wrote about the platform in-depth in my review here, but the bottom line is that you can use the platform to learn job-related skills as well as job search skills like interview tips, salary negotiation, networking, and more.

It’s a powerful platform that you should take advantage of as a job seeker.

Other New LinkedIn Features and Benefits for Job Seekers

Along with Open Candidates and LinkedIn Learning, LinkedIn also recently added a feature called Career Pages. It allows you to learn more about the culture of companies you may be interested in.

Another useful tool is Meet the Team. This program lets you search for and view the profiles of potential future colleagues by searching company names that turn your head. Additionally, LinkedIn allows you to see the connections you already have at firms and who might be able to help you with positive references and referrals to hiring managers.

Making Your LinkedIn Account Work for You

I tell my clients that first impressions are important on a resume, and LinkedIn is no different. To make the most out of your job search efforts, review your LinkedIn profile and make the necessary adjustments before you begin your job search.

Make sure everything is up to date and that your past jobs are listed in a way that is going to impress as many recruiters as possible.

Also, before recruiters call, be sure to think about things they will likely wish to discuss such as:

  • Career types and positions that interest you
  • Whether you are willing to relocate, and if so, where
  • Potential start dates
  • Size and culture of the company you’d like to work for

I encourage you to give this a try in your next job search. Make sure your profile is up to date. Then turn your Open To Work signal to “On” to attract recruiters. You never know who might answer the call… and the doors it could open for you.

Biron Clark

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5 thoughts on “LinkedIn Open to Work: Meaning & How to Use”

  1. Home > Me > settings and privacy > Let Recruiters know you are open to new opportunities.

  2. It would be nice if you just quickly explained how to turn it off and on. Most people come to this article to find out the answer to this question in about 5 seconds, not to read your blog. i spend 5 seconds and didn’t find the answer. If I had found the answer, I would have been impressed.

  3. My Open candidate signal switches off automatically every 2 weeks or so, and have to go through the whole Process again.
    Any advice?

  4. I followed your directions…”When the “Jobs” window opens, select “Preferences” at the top of the page. When the window opens, you will see a slide button. Simply move the button to the “On” position and fill out the short questions about your career preferences.”

    but when i click on JOBS there is no option to select “preferences” at the top or side of the page.
    Has that option changed or is there a different way to find this “on” switch?

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