: Job seekers are putting their vaccination status on LinkedIn profiles and resumes: ‘It’s better to be over-qualified’

As someone who’s been working in the recruiting and talent acquisition industry for two decades, Dustin Mazanowski knows how important it is for job candidates to have “key words” on their profiles and resumes that quickly distinguish them from the pack.

That’s why he has “#vaccinated” in his LinkedIn profile.

Dustin Mazanowski, 44, has #vaccinated on his LinkedIn profile. Photo courtesy Dustin Mazanowski

“If it comes down to me and another person with the same qualifications and the same interview, what I wanted to do is have that extra qualification of being fully vaccinated,” the 44-year-old Chicago resident said, as his approximate four-month long search continues for a senior role in the recruiting industry.

Jacki Hall, an experienced IT project and program manager, has “Available and Vaccinated for Travel” on her LinkedIn profile. She’s searching for a managerial role that includes international business travel.

“I hoped there were hiring companies requiring travel for an IT project manager, but who were discovering that candidates were nervous about travelling,” said Hall, 57, who spends her winters in Tampa, Fla. and her summers in Minnesota. “If there is a lack of candidates wanting to travel, letting recruiters know that I am ready to get out there might give me an advantage.”

Jacki Hall is hoping the mention of COVID-19 vaccination status is a way to distinguish herself.

Photo courtesy Jacki Hall

Today’s job market is already a stark departure from its pre-pandemic version. There’s the much greater chance of working from home, but also the much greater chance of following protocols on masks and social distancing when physically at the job.

Now, job seekers like Mazanowski and Hall say volunteering their COVID-19 vaccination status could be a way to give them a competitive edge.

“It’s better to be over-qualified and state all the qualifications you have,” Mazanowski said. The “#vaccinated” mention is not a political statement, but a way he can signal to potential employers that he’s comfortable with in-person office work, he said.

Mazanowski included “#vaccinated” on his profile in July. Hall added it around mid-June, and her resume’s personal statement also mentions her vaccination. So far, neither person has seen their disclosure making a noticeable change one way or another in their search.

But it may make a difference going forward, said John Challenger, CEO of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Instead of managing morale over vaccination rules, Challenger said, “employers want to focus on other things. If you are vaccinated and looking to be hired, for more employers, that just portends fewer difficulties.”

Challenger said he’s already seen “a small group of people” who are revealing their COVID-19 vaccination status on resumes and profiles, and he thinks more will follow suit.

Josh Daniel, a career coach at Korn Ferry Advance, works with job seekers and employers — and on both sides, figuring out when to disclose vaccination status or ask about it is the top new question. Is it on LinkedIn? On the resume? During the interview? “Those tend to be the big three,” he said, and he doesn’t see the dilemma going away.

Like his clients, Daniel’s still figuring out what’s the best advice. “There really is no precedent for this,” he said.

“We are exploring new ways for job seekers on LinkedIn to learn more about how companies are approaching the future of work including vaccination requirements, if they plan to go back to an office, stay remote or go hybrid,” said Suzi Owens, director of corporate communications, consumer products at LinkedIn.

Here’s where the complicated job market dynamics get even more intricate — and make it a serious question to consider including vaccination status.

In the early summer months, when Mazanowski and Hall announced their vaccination status to potential employers, the number of companies with vaccine mandates was small, but growing.

In a survey of more than 950 large employers, 21% had some type of vaccine requirement for all or some of their staff by the summer, up from 9% in the spring, according to recent survey from Willis Towers Watson
a human resources consulting firm.

The same trend shows in help wanted ads. By the end of August, the share of postings per million on Indeed.com requiring vaccination rose 242% from the same point in the previous month.

Though vaccination is specifically being required in less than 1% of all ads on the site, AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the Indeed Hiring Lab, wrote that “with delta variant cases surging, employers are undoubtedly wondering how they can keep their business’s recovery on track.”

Here’s a blue chip example: Delta Air Lines

is making full vaccination a requirement for its new hires.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has grown impatient with the nearly 80 million people who remain unvaccinated. He said last week that the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is creating rules that will require private sector employers with at least 100 workers to either require vaccination or regular testing.

Though some Republican governors are threatening to sue, Biden says he’s ready for any court showdown and some legal experts say the president has the law on his side.

The real possibility of new federal rules will give some companies the cover they’ve been seeking to proceed with vaccine mandates, Challenger said. In such a contentious moment, spotting a mention of someone’s COVID-19 vaccination status “could be a real relief for employers to say ‘I don’t have to ask about this,’” he said.

Even though the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said there’s no legal breach if companies ask current staffers about their vaccination status, “an employer should refrain from asking prospective employees about their vaccination status until after they have received a job offer,” according to attorneys at Husch Blackwell, a firm representing employers.

Probing too soon might get them in hot water under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which bars employers from asking job candidates about potential medical matters before a job offer, the attorneys said.

Nevertheless, employers ought to make any vaccine requirement rules loud and clear from the start and maybe even put a statement on the job application, the attorneys added.

Pros and cons?

Hall and Mazanowski say they haven’t encountered any nasty reactions to their job-search related revelations. That doesn’t mean the strategy is risk-free, said Challenger. Generally speaking, resumes and job profiles should steer clear of controversies that would sink a job possibility from the start, he said.

In a smaller market, perhaps in an area with a lower vaccination rate, Challenger said it might be a gamble to put mention COVID-19 vaccination on a resume before any other chance to make an impression. “You don’t who an employer is, who might see it, who might take offense,” he said.

But in a larger market with a higher vaccination rate, Challenger said the mention could be a way to quickly stand apart.

Daniel’s not ready to say there’s a risky way or a wise way to talk about vaccination status in a job hunt. It depends case by case, he said. But keep this in mind, he noted, a LinkedIn announcement is out there for everyone to see. Waiting for a mention of vaccination status in a resume could be a “deliberate decision because you see it as marketable,” he said.

This all hits on a larger uncertainty with Biden’s upcoming vaccination mandate rules.

“There’s so many open questions how this plays out,” said Laura Boudreau, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School.

What she’s interested to know is how any federal vaccination-or-testing rules play out with businesses that have more than 100 workers, but are small enough to stay out of the public eye — especially if those businesses happen to be located in places where hesitancy runs high.

For Hall, the upside to her vaccination mention outweighs any risks. “The pros are that it would make me stand out as someone who wants to travel for work and who is willing to take the necessary steps to make that happen,” she said. A risk would be pushback from people questioning the vaccine, but she hasn’t faced that.

As for Mazanowski, he’s willing to take his chances. “I felt that putting that I was fully vaccinated has more upside than not having it, or the opposite.”

This post was originally published on Market Watch

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