Are people with the same name [as me] hindering my job search?
June 22, 2017 11:42 PM   Subscribe

I've been submitting resumes via an online job search engine, with no responses. I live in an area with a lot of jobs; I have skills, so I'm at a loss. For reasons, I have no online presence. After poring over AskMe and Ask A Manager, I've been considering creating a LinkedIn profile, though I'd prefer not to. After searching my very unique name, I found, much to my surprise, three other people with the same name.

One is an early to mid-twenties female with typical selfie style pics. There is nothing wrong with the photos, however they're not what I would have open to the public if I was job searching.

Do I have to create a LinkedIn or FB profile to try and distinguish myself? If so, would it be detrimental to include only the most basic information? Is a profile photo compulsory?

(Also: I am re-writing my resume and I'm aware that resumes get rejected by computers for various reasons. But I've never submitted this many resumes without a single response.)
posted by racersix6 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Short answer: yes. Potential employers and clients hold you fully accountable for your LinkedIn presence, most certainly including the potential to be confused for a person with the same name if you don't have a LinkedIn profile yourself.

PS, there are probably a lot of things wrong with your job search, if one of its features is that you would "prefer not" to create a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is so important that not having one is an affectation: "I will never need another job or client nor will ever wish or need to lend my network to a friend." To say the least of many people regarding only your LinkedIn profile as your legitimate resume, because the thing you email can be customized to the job description and can even stretch the truth, whereas you have only one LinkedIn profile and it's too public to give yourself any room to fib.
posted by MattD at 12:06 AM on June 23, 2017 [22 favorites]

Best answer: I've been submitting resumes via an online job search engine

I suspect this is actually your biggest problem. I was hiring for a job once and somehow it ended up on No one at my company put it there, Indeed must have somehow scraped our own jobs page -- and the number of resumes was overwhelming and they were almost always horrible. The resumes I got were so bad that I basically thought less of anyone who applied through Indeed, as if it reflected poorly on everyone who didn't go directly to our website and apply directly. (We could see if they came via Indeed or not.) If you are applying for jobs through a site like Indeed, you are competing with a ton of people because there are people there that will apply for any and everything.

At the bare minimum, when you find a job you're interested in, go directly to the employer's website and apply there. But better yet, you should find a job through networking. Email colleagues, former bosses, former professors, acquaintances, friends and family and let them know you're looking. Go for coffee to catch up with people in your field or who have jobs you're interested in and ask them how they moved up the ladder. Applying for jobs on a jobs search engine is maybe the worst way to find a job, in my opinion. I've never gotten a job by blindly applying for one -- I always got referred by someone or heard about the job from someone. Same for most people I know as well.

As for your actual question, creating a LinkedIn doesn't hurt. I have actually had recruiters reach out to me on there before. There are also job listings on LinkedIn sometimes where you can apply that way. I wouldn't expect too much, but I don't think it hurts to have. I'd just know that as private as you make it, the details may still get out. I set mine to private and somehow the details of my career history ended up being reported (it was kind of a public role) and the description made me know for sure it came from LinkedIn. Maybe a 2nd or 3rd connection was able to see my work history, not sure. Sounds like you would be purposely making it public anyway so people can Google it, which is just fine. You can also create a landing page, like at or something. I, however, created a personal website using Weebly. (Oh, and also, just a tip, don't send people who aren't on LinkedIn invitations to join, that's annoying. You can ask to connect with people who are already on the site, though.)
posted by AppleTurnover at 12:23 AM on June 23, 2017 [35 favorites]

It depends on your industry partly. In the arts in the city I'm in, a linkedin​ profile is very much optional and lots of people don't have one. In architecture it's basically mandatory. That's my context, yours will be different.
posted by deadwax at 12:43 AM on June 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Regarding profile photographs on Linked In - I was using a logo as my image, and am currently using the EU flag. So there's no reason it has to be a photograph of you.
posted by paduasoy at 1:12 AM on June 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

This is probably dependent on your field, so it might be useful to tell us the kinds of jobs you're applying for.

I've been part of the hiring process in academia for research related jobs and I can say that in those cases, we never looked at LinkedIn or other social media as part of our hiring.
posted by Stacey at 3:26 AM on June 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I am an inside operations manager. Looking to scale back, I've been applying for jobs that are components of my previous position: policies and procedures, HR, accounting, payroll, OSHA admin, C-level executive assistant, etc.
posted by racersix6 at 3:46 AM on June 23, 2017

Best answer:
Applying for jobs on a jobs search engine is maybe the worst way to find a job, in my opinion. I've never gotten a job by blindly applying for one -- I always got referred by someone or heard about the job from someone. Same for most people I know as well.
Yes, this seems to be the case. I was friends with the recruiter at my last company and I got to see the quality of resumes we received. The people applying through Indeed were often humorously unqualified for the position and/or opened with weirdly inappropriate cover letters (one guy boldly stated that he doesn't "care about money", another one attached shirtless photos of himself on the beach). Our best candidates came from our recruiter scouring LinkedIn and contacting them directly, or from referrals.

Which makes sense, because if you put out a job posting into the world, you get resumes from everyone, regardless of if they're a good fit for the job or not. If you do the searching yourself, you can pick through someone's resume and find someone with an appropriate background. Even better, you just ask your current employees, "who in [city] would you recommend for [role]?" and then contact that person

I think there were a few years when applying on job search sites was a good strategy but employers have figured out that they get the best candidates through a more targeted approach.

Anecdotally, I just got a new job through a selective job placement service that vets candidates' background ahead of time. This might be a new trend. It helps employers avoid the cost of hiring someone to be on LinkedIn all day, but they also avoid getting a flood of resumes.
posted by deathpanels at 4:43 AM on June 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

At least in my field, there seems to be an expectation that you will have at a minimum a basic LinkedIn profile. I went through a couple of job searches in the last three years, and in every case, right at the beginning of talking to a company, they would look at my profile; I have also seen the same thing when I've been on the hiring side. I don't know how important that is, but in talking with people, it is clearly something that is expected and not having one would stand out as a bit odd.

Again, just speaking for my field, looking at Facebook does not appear to be a normal thing in the hiring process, but I keep seeing references to that in articles -- it must be common in other fields.

And I would agree with everything said above about the relative value of applying through a search engine compared to talking with people directly.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:52 AM on June 23, 2017

Best answer: I've been submitting resumes via an online job search engine, with no responses.

Nthing that this is not a winning strategy in 2017.

policies and procedures, HR, accounting, payroll, OSHA admin, C-level executive assistant, etc.

Most of those sounds like roles where your lack of a LinkedIn profile will hurt you, especially the C-level executive assistant ones. If you don't want to make a profile for reasons like having been stalked, you might see if you can work with a local recruiting company that can help grease the wheels and get you on the inside track for positions.

FWIW, my LinkedIn profile does not have a picture nor is it easy to find any pictures of me online in general and I've never had a recruiter complain about that. If you're highly concerned about this other person (which it doesn't sound like you should be), you can always add a middle initial to your resume.
posted by Candleman at 5:58 AM on June 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: To answer your headline question: maybe, but that's not the problem.

In the year of our lord 2017, what you're doing (applying via job search engines) is the functional equivalent of walking down to the office building where the company is located, opening the front door, and throwing your resume into the lobby.

It gets worse, though: this lobby has a filter. The janitors pick up and throws away any resumes that don't match a very specific set of keywords that the hiring manager told them once, verbally, and they memorized verbatim. HR skills? Sorry, they were looking for Human Resources.

In the off chance that one of the hiring managers looks down at the lobby floor and your resume catches their eyes, (probably after they've looked through everything from other, more effective channels) your lack of a LinkedIn profile means that they don't have a way to verify your general existence as a professional. Since this is a floor-resume, they won't dig further or send out and email—they'll just move on.

The answer is to physically (or digitally) put your resume into the hands of the hiring manager. AppleTurnover's advice is good; this is also a good resource. Like that article says, you don't initially want to be reaching out resume-in-hand. Instead, you're talking to these people to get information.

You're looking to downshift and are looking for positions that might be a good fit—that's a perfect line of questioning for this kind of networking.
posted by daniel striped tiger at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2017 [9 favorites]

All good advice; definitely get a LinkedIn profile.

I would also add that alumni networks are a great place to find a job. My grad and undergrad programs have resources and job boards with decent roles listed.

Ultimately I found my next job through a recruiter, though, that found me through LinkedIn :)
posted by teabag at 7:32 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would create a new resume update listing your name as Stacy X. Lastname and create a LinkedIn profile with the name Stacy X. Lastname. And I would put your LinkedIn on your resume. A photo is not mandatory but something is.

(X is a distinctive initial. Don't be tempted to go bland, it won't help with being search distinctive.)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:12 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, you need LinkedIn. It can actually help your job search. You connect to people you know, and they can potentially help you get connected with a job. If I only have a second-degree connection, I email or LI Message the first-degree connection to see if I can get an intro. It's worked several times.

I disagree that you can't get a job by applying cold online (that's how I've gotten my last two), but it certainly helps to have an "in."

Oh, also on LinkedIn you can apply directly through their interface for many jobs, and often it will get to the hiring manager faster.
posted by radioamy at 10:07 AM on June 23, 2017

It really does depend on the company and the hiring manager. I personally don't care about LinkedIn profiles or any other online presence but I am certainly aware of ones that do. Given the complete lack of response thus far, I think there is likely something else that is the issue.

If you are looking to scale back, are you writing a cover letter to explain that?

As a manager currently looking to hire someone, it has been a frustrating process when I see the resume of someone with 10+ years of experience currently employed in a higher level position when the position is entry level with no experience requirement. Why is this person applying for this job? I have to wonder if they even bothered reading the posting.
posted by nolnacs at 10:19 AM on June 23, 2017

My best guess is that your resume shows you are wildly overqualified for these positions (since you're looking to scale back), but your cover letter isn't adequately explaining WHY you're wanting less responsibility/lower pay in a way that is compelling to employers. This is where I would put most of my energy if I were you. That said, Linked In or at the very least a professional website (depending on whether that is done in your field) that is easily searchable is a good idea. Not every employer will Google you, but if they do it's a good thing to be easily find-able.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:44 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's such a crazy time to find a new job. I read of someone who only heard back from like 6% and only got interviews from like 1% of resumes he submitted over the period of 15 months.

I *did* just get a job from submitting a resume through an online job site, but it took a long time. I actually got two offers from the same online job site.

You will probably need a LinkedIn. But you can just get rid of it/inactivate it afterward (and yes, put your LinkedIn on your resume). I married in to a common name, so I just went by First Maiden Married for this purpose.
posted by getawaysticks at 3:40 PM on June 23, 2017

Response by poster: These are all great answers and the information is much appreciated, thank you!
posted by racersix6 at 4:56 PM on June 23, 2017

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