Career Coach: Does LinkedIn’s ‘Open to Work’ Banner Make Me Look Desperate?

Pictured: Wooden cubes with icons depicting people lie next to a magnifying glass/iStock, Kirill Gorshkov

Welcome to Career Coach, a new column for job seekers and employees navigating the ins and outs of finding, landing and succeeding in jobs in the biotech industry. Each month, Carina Clingman, founder of The Collaboratory Career Hub, answers questions from the community. You can email her with questions at:

Q: I heard that using the 'Open to Work' banner on LinkedIn makes you look desperate. Is that true? I’ve had my banner on for a few months and I haven’t gotten many recruiters reaching out to me, so maybe I should turn it off.

CC: I want to assure you that being on the job market is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. We all find ourselves in this situation at some point, for various reasons. It’s important to know that recruiters do not view it as desperate or shameful in any way. Feel free to seek new exciting opportunities and know that you’re not alone in this journey.

The truth is, the banner can be a great tool for your job search. With the 'Open to Work' feature, you can discreetly let recruiters know you’re open to new opportunities without it being broadcast to your network. Alternatively, you can use the public settings to notify your entire network if you prefer. This way, you can harness the power of LinkedIn even more effectively. Plus, you have the option to customize your preferences and indicate the specific type of job you’re seeking. This could help reduce the number of recruiter messages for positions that aren’t the right fit.

Recruiters use LinkedIn to discover qualified candidates, often seeking those open to new opportunities. In the enhanced edition of LinkedIn, known as LinkedIn Recruiter, LinkedIn even placed a convenient button at the top of every search window, allowing us to effortlessly filter for people interested in job opportunities. By not using the ‘Open to Work’ banner, you might be missing out on job prospects. Remember, your LinkedIn profile acts as a powerful marketing tool, and it’s crucial to make it easily discoverable for recruiters.

Q: I really want to ask for a raise, but my company just did a layoff. I took on more responsibility after the layoff, and I think my time is worth more than I’m getting paid. 

CC: I’m sorry to hear that your company has faced some turmoil. It’s been quite a roller-coaster ride in the biotech industry for the past 20 or so months. When a layoff or reduction in force occurs, it’s common for the remaining employees to experience survivor’s guilt. Remember to take care of yourself during this challenging time.

I’m concerned about your job security as well. Companies sometimes have multiple rounds of layoffs, so if you want to keep your job and position yourself for a raise, it’s time to be proactive. 

When it comes to asking for a raise or promotion, timing is crucial. However, having a conversation about how you can personally contribute to the company’s success is always a great idea. It also provides an opportunity to request regular check-in meetings with your manager to discuss your goals. The secret ulterior motive? Making sure they acknowledge your significant contributions to the company’s key performance indicators (KPIs). Setting 30, 60 and 90-day goals under the banner of KPIs is a strategy I like to follow. Even if you aren’t aware of the company’s overall goals, your manager should have specific goals for your team and department that you can work toward. 

Now that you have regular meetings with your manager, you have an opportunity to discuss any workload concerns that arise. Instead of saying no to new tasks, consider asking your manager to prioritize with you. For instance, you can say, “I’d be glad to work on the new assay, but let’s strategize on when you’d like me to prioritize it. My plate is currently full with XYZ, and I want to ensure nothing falls through the cracks."

Another perk of regular check-in meetings with your manager is the ability to gauge company health. You can do this by asking about shifting company priorities—again, offering your help in these areas. Once you’ve gained some time and distance from the layoff, discussing a raise or promotion becomes more manageable. For instance, you could say, “I’m genuinely enjoying my new responsibilities in X area. As the company becomes more stable, I’d be interested in discussing the timeline and specific measurable goals you think would show my readiness for a promotion or salary increase.”

In short, if employees seek a raise or promotion too soon after a layoff or reduction in force, it may raise questions about their ability to ‘read the room.’ Some companies are doing their utmost to stay afloat and retain as many employees as possible. If you wish to continue with the company, now is the opportune time to collaborate with your manager, drive company objectives, and showcase your star qualities.

Additionally, it might be wise to be open to other opportunities, just in case.

Q: I have a non-compete, but I want to move to another company. How can I figure out if that’s going to impact me?

CC: Non-compete agreements are becoming less popular in the biotech industry, but they can still cause a lot of worry. The idea behind a non-compete is to prevent employees with valuable intellectual property from using that knowledge to help a direct competitor gain an advantage. 

Unfortunately, some non-competes have become too restrictive, even prohibiting employees from working for companies that are only loosely considered “competitors,” like two gene therapy companies with different platforms and disease indications. If you’re thinking about changing jobs and have a non-compete agreement with your current employer, the first step is to carefully read the agreement. Understand what limitations it imposes, how long it lasts, and the geographic area it covers. 

The good news is that many states are starting to limit or ban non-compete agreements unless the employee’s salary is above a certain threshold. The rationale is that unless you’re an executive, it’s unlikely that you possess enough knowledge to significantly impact a competing company. Of course, when it comes to legal matters, seeking legal advice is always recommended.

Q: Are there certain time frames in the year that are ideal for applying to jobs when you need visa sponsorship?

CC: Luckily, there isn’t a single answer to this question! The best time to apply for a job is whenever you need one. The biotech industry does experience some seasonality, with summers being a bit slower, but hiring happens throughout the year. We’ve hired thousands of candidates on various types of visas, so here are a few insights. 

If you are a student on an OPT with the STEM extension, your employer will have three years to support you in securing an H1B visa. The lottery for this opens on April 1, and there are some important steps to take in preparing and filing the application. It’s not ideal to find a job too close to that deadline, as immigration attorneys tend to get busy with application preparation.

What exactly is considered too close? Well, I’ve seen companies manage to prepare and submit the application in less than a week, but that was pretty impressive and required an excellent legal firm. To be on the safer side, it’s advisable to allow for a month or even more. 

Another thing to keep in mind is that some company policies require employees to have been with the company for a specific number of months before they cover any immigration-related costs. This can definitely impact OPT-holders, who may end up missing an entire H1B application cycle because of these policies. We’ve also observed cases where candidates on different visa types miss out on employer assistance opportunities for specific filings and renewals.

Here’s my top tip: Take the time to thoroughly educate yourself on all the requirements, dates, deadlines, employer obligations and personal responsibilities related to your specific immigration situation. Lucky for you, there are great immigration services available to guide you through the process. It’s worth mentioning, though, that seeking advice from an immigration attorney is always a smart move for tailored legal guidance.

Carina Clingman, PhD, is the founder of The Collaboratory Career Hub, an online community for people interested in working in biotech. She is also the founder and CEO of Recruitomics Consulting, which specializes in talent acquisition and talent strategy for startup biotechs. Learn about joining the career hub here, or send questions to

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