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Currently I'm employed in a position which I could stay in for a while. However, I'm not in love with it and would leave for the right opportunity. As such, I don't mind receiving contacts for possible jobs via LinkedIn, but I don't want to advertise myself as "seeking a new opportunity" either.

Recently I have received - via my LinkedIn profile - some invitations from recruiters to apply for positions they are trying to fill. While my skills are applicable and it is somewhat flattering to be noticed, nearly all these positions are in an industry which I avoid for ethical reasons. Does anyone know of a way to discreetly show this in my LinkedIn profile?

Some examples to make this clearer:

  • A fundraiser who works for a charity receiving requests to apply for a job with a political organization to which he or she is opposed.
  • A devout member of a religion being asked to work for a drastically different religious group (think a Roman Catholic nun working for a Satanic group).
  • A pacifist being asked to work in a military setting.
  • An environmentalist working for a major polluter.
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Are you only getting interest from these unethical sectors? How do other people in this sector present their skills (and do you do so in an identical way?) –  Dibstar Jan 10 '13 at 9:24
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@GreenMatt Welcome to the Vampire Economy. There are those who drive the knife in, those who help the guy driving the knife in, and the unemployed. If you have a family to raise and support, which option do you find the most palatable? –  maple_shaft Jan 10 '13 at 15:10

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I agree with the point that not everyone will respect anything you put up there - the downside of being findable is that people who shouldn't find you, will. And most recruiters are invested in filling a position, not in sparing you from hassles, so you'll have to figure that some amount of useless invitations will get to you.

I'd say the Summary is a good place to put it - since you can summarize yourself in whatever language you prefer. I'd say, though, that from a marketing perspective, it's usually far better to stay on the positive. So saying:

"I'm a devout whatever, I'd love to work in an industry where I can stay true to my beliefs and support a noble cause. I'm particularly interested in ..."

is way better than saying:

"I'm ethically opposed to anti-whatever, and I will not consider job offers or other solicitation that involves doing anything related to this"

Two big reasons - first, it's that with the former case, you come off as someone who is engaged, passionate, and out to make the world a better place - and who doesn't want to hire that guy?? Second, you avoid the hit words of all the things you hate, so the web crawlers of the world looking for alignment with all the stuff you would never do won't see anything in your resume that aligns with that subject.

I'll caveat that with the fact that I did just this - my last resume on Dice said explicitly a few requirements for any job I'd consider, and while it did increase the number of hits for recruiters offering me good jobs, it did not reduce the number of hits for recruiters offering me jobs I'd never consider taking. In fact, 1 year after I stopped the job search, I still get a fair number of "but wouldn't you like to take this position that is the opposite of what you want?" emails.

Automation can be a real pain.

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Very good points, thanks. –  GreenMatt Jan 10 '13 at 21:16

Unfortunately, I can tell you right now that any discreet message on your LinkedIn profile - or even a not particularly discreet one - will not necessarily be noticed or heeded by recruiters.

A co-worker of mine has, as the first line of his summary:

I do not deal with recruitment, please do not contact me in this regard. Thanks.

Do you think that stops recruiters from seeing the words "Tech Lead" and contacting him? Nope.

Feel free to add a message to your summary, it may even reduce the number of contacts you get about the industry you wish to avoid. Doubt you'll avoid all of them, though.

As an aside.. if it's an industry that a lot of people would be bemused by an ethical objection to, it might be best to just leave things alone and reject the offers when they come in. A message that you are not interested in job opportunities in an industry that most people would find mainstream and normal might lead recruiters from other industries into thinking "this guy is weird" and passing on you.

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During my last job search, I stated very clearly on my resume that I was not available for relocation or positions where I would spend a lot of time away from home. I got far more people contacting me for positions requiring extensive travel or total relocation than anything else. Putting such a statement on your resume or LinkedIn profile will at best be only slightly effective, and at worst offputting to someone who might otherwise be able to open doors for you elsewhere in the future. –  alroc Jan 10 '13 at 13:40
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I suspect it's related to keywords that they search for. If you include 'not available for relocation' and recruiter/hr for a company that is offering a relocation package might search for relevant skills +relocation. I found that adding 'not looking for X' increased the number of contacts I'd receive FOR X. –  Rob P. Jan 10 '13 at 16:58

I regularly get contacts from recruiters through LinkedIn and again we all suffer from the same problem of getting requests for things we aren't interested in and the most frustrating thing is when people try and recruit me for more junior positions which I am vastly over qualified for.

But fortunately having a very complete profile on LinkedIn cuts this down, in particularly filling out the summary well. If you express your aims and ambitions in there you can really reduce the number of stupid requests because they will normally have to pass that before getting to your experience. Also being more "wordy" on your job experience, rather than just having a list of items, reduces the chances of getting requests for jobs using skills you long ago neglected.

As for requests from organisations that you are perfectly qualified and able to work for but object to? That is the hardest of all. I have had to explain to one recruiter that I wouldn't ever work for a particular company because of the stories I had heard about them (people ended up intentionally dead). I tried not to explain exactly why but did end up saying something like "I can't confirm what I have been told, but I don't want to find out.". Actually I have an aversion to working for big companies in general because you loose contact with the core leadership too easily, perhaps I need to add that to my summary but in a positive way.

You need to get your profile to a point where it will attract the right people and give them the right impression. After that you are still going to have to filter for your ethical dilemma, but you need options more than posting a sign which says 'go away'.

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I would not make any special remarks about it on LinkedIn.
Use the profile for "just the facts" - your skills, your experience, your strenghts.

If/when you get offers that you don't agree with, simply decline them. I don't think you're getting so many offers that declining them would be a time burden. And even though you dislike their industry, it still gives you exposure to the job hunters and agencies - they might save you in their systems and offer you something else later on. Also, getting offers at all is a great way to gauge your professional popularity - it can tell you what you're worth.

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I think its generally a bad idea to put something like that in your linkedin profile. You want to make sure you don't scare off good job offers. I may be interested in hiring someone, but if I saw something in their profile such as "I wont work in this industry, I wont work in that industry, I wont do this, I wont do that" I might be left with the impression that the person could be difficult. I have recruiters that call me daily about jobs that are completely inappropriate for me. Unfortunately, its all about numbers for them so nothing you do will stop you from hearing from them short of going off the grid.

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LinkedIn and most job hunting websites do not offer this. Indeed, including a message saying that you do not want to work in a particular industry or organization may prompt the wrong types of questions (Did he/she screw up? What has he/she got to hide?).

As Carson63000 wrote, just deal with the requests or messages as they come in. The recruiter or HR representative may have other positions available. Getting to talk with these people is half the battle. Once you have their attention, tell them what you want. As long as you are polite and open, you will not offend anyone.

As Carson63000 also infers, if the wrong type of people are drawn to particular aspect of the resume, LinkedIn profile or similar, consider changing it. For example, use something more descriptive than your job title. Reduce the detail in that section and add detail in other sections.

Lastly, do not rely on something like a LinkedIn profile to get you a job. Reach out to the types of organizations you want to work for, even if you are not ready to change jobs yet. For example, attend conferences or networking events. Find out any skill gaps and fill them. Do not wait until problems arise as you may be forced to compromise too much.

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Unless you you get dozens of messages a day, I fail to see the problem. You click "not interested" hit "send" and you're done. Takes 5 seconds tops. If you are interested in getting useful requests you have to deal with a fair level of noise. I would not artificially restrict the flow since a) it doesn't work anyway, and b) it may reduce attractive opportunities as well.

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