What to do about the Current field on your LinkedIn profile, if you’re not working? Show your volunteer experience.

Your Current field on LinkedIn is one of the first thing employers and visitors see. It’s in your Snap Shot below your Update field. So there are two general rules; 1) don’t list the company for which you used to work and 2) don’t hide your Current field if you can help it.

By keeping your past employment in this field, you are being dishonest and hurting your chances of getting a job (employers will think you’re working, or they will see you as a fraud when they find out the truth.) I’ve seen LinkedIn users practices this art of deception and, to me,  it’s a turn-off, so imagine how an employer would feel if he/she were to be duped into thinking you were currently employed.

But hiding it will eliminate some very valuable real estate that could be used to help your job search significantly. You’re not currently working, so you’re wondering what to do with this valuable real estate. The answer is simple. If you’re volunteering, display your volunteer work.

The bottom line is that employers want to see that you’re keeping busy. They want to see that you’re developing new skills or knowledge. You don’t want to come across as spending hours upon hours on the Internet sending your résumé into (shall we use a cliché?) the black hole. This is why your volunteer experience is important to show on your LinkedIn profile.

Here is an example of how a jobseeker uses his volunteer experience to fill his Current field:

Community Volunteer, Networker and Administrative Assistant (position) Program Development industry (industry) August 2008 – Present (2 years 7 months)

  • Engineer at Hampstead Community Access Television: bringing 28-year-old cable TV station up to date. Member of Hampstead Cable Television Advisory Board.
  • Founder of PMI New Hampshire Chapter’s networking group – netPM.
  • Facilitator/advisor to Acton Networkers, NHnetWORKS, Nutfield Networking, Nashua After Hours Networking and Dynamic Networking groups.
  • Participant in project/program/product management webinars on a weekly basis.

Doesn’t this look more impressive than hiding the Current field, or worse yet, falsifying your current situation?

But I don’t volunteer, you may say. To which I would say, “Get out there and volunteer. Volunteer for a good cause; to obtain more skills; network; feel useful; and to pad your résumé. The Current field is also a great place to show that you’re in training and what courses you’re taking.

There are plenty of organizations and businesses that will take your services free of charge, just as long as you don’t require hand-holding. But this entry is not about volunteering; it’s about making your LinkedIn profile as complete as possible. If volunteering rubs you the wrong way because you won’t get paid, then consider making the sacrifice for your Current Field.

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