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Job hunters are putting their vaccination status on LinkedIn and on their résumés. Should you?

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 9/21/2021 Andrew Keshner
a person wearing glasses taking a selfie © MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

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 use “key words” on their profiles and résumés that quickly distinguish them from the pack.

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

Video: Job Seekers Are Volunteering Their Vaccination Status on Their Resume or LinkedIn (Veuer)


“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 Chicagoan said, as his approximate four-month-old search continues for a senior role in the recruiting industry.

Jacki Hall, an experienced IT project and program manager, has the phrase “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 traveling,” 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.”

Today’s job market is already starkly different from its pre-pandemic version. There’s the much greater likelihood of working from home, of course, but also the much greater chance of protocols concerning masks and social distancing when physically at the job.

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

“It’s better to be overqualified 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 added “#vaccinated” to his profile in July. Hall added it around mid-June, and her résumé’s personal statement also mentions vaccination. So far, neither has seen the disclosure making a noticeable change one way or another in their search.

Figuring out when to disclose vaccination status — or ask about it — is a top new question

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 seen “a small group of people” who are revealing their COVID-19 vaccination status on résumés and online 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 a résumé? 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 in consumer products at LinkedIn.

More companies are requiring vaccinations for employees

Here’s where job-market dynamics get more intricate — and make it a serious matter to consider including vaccination status.

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

A survey of more than 950 large employers found that 21% had some type of vaccine requirement for all or some of their staff by the summer, up from 9% in the spring, according 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 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 has signaled he’s ready for any court showdown (“Have at it,” he said, when asked about the prospect of legal challenges to vaccine requirements from Republican governors), and some legal experts say the president has the law on his side.

See: Republican state attorneys general put Biden on notice that they’ll pursue legal challenges to vaccine requirements

Knowing a prospective employee’s vaccination status ‘could be a relief for employers’

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 U.S. 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 standard loud and clear from the start and maybe even put a statement on the job application, the attorneys added.

How providing vaccination status on a résumé could be a gamble

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, résumés and job profiles should steer clear of controversies that could sink a job possibility from the start, he said.

In a smaller market, perhaps in an area with a lower vaccination rate, it might be a gamble to put mention COVID-19 vaccination on a résumé before having any other chance to make an impression, Challenger said. “You don’t know 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’s a case-by-case situation, he said. But keep this in mind, he said: a LinkedIn announcement is out there for everyone to see. Waiting for a mention of vaccination status in a résumé could be a “deliberate decision because you see it as marketable,” he said.

Uncertainty over Biden’s vaccination mandate for employers

This all hits on a larger uncertainty with the coming federal vaccination requirements.

“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 vaccine hesitancy runs high.

For Hall, the upside to providing her vaccination mention outweighs any risk. “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.”


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