If you are conducting a stealth job search, updating your LinkedIn profile can make you feel uneasy, raising fears that your current employer will get wind of your intentions before you are ready to announce a move. Work colleagues can be a nosy bunch, and news that you have updated your LinkedIn profile can travel the office faster than Bloodhound SSC will scorch the tarmac.
In my opinion, the best way to avoid this unwelcome scenario is by presenting an up-to-date and evolving picture of your professional offering. People will always talk but, by updating your LinkedIn profile on a regular basis, you can prevent your peers from accurately guessing your next career move, making it less obvious when you are actually looking to move on.
If you update your LinkedIn as a matter of course following each new promotion or project completion, this habit will mark you out as a well-organised person (not worthy of office gossip), rather than someone who is seeking greener pastures (a frequent and much-loved topic of office gossip).
Another benefit of continuously updating your profile is that it can increase your chances of being pursued for relevant opportunities, rather than irrelevant roles that would have suited you a few years ago.
No one is perfect, so if your best intentions have fallen short, follow these simple steps to lock down your privacy and avoid letting the cat out of the bag.
Editing your privacy controls
To edit your privacy controls, hover over your avatar/profile image at the top right of the very top toolbar.
An Account & Settings drop-down menu will appear.
From there you can select ‘Privacy & Settings – Manage’ to amend the 12 privacy control options listed under the same heading.
You’ll be asked to sign in, then you’ll be able to edit the privacy controls:
Here are some controls that warrant particular attention:
Choose whether or not to share your profile edits
Before updating your profile, uncheck the option to ‘Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.’
Adjusting your activity broadcast settings will ensure that your network isn’t alerted to every change you are making to your LinkedIn profile, potentially flooding their newsfeed with details of your evolving profile.
As LinkedIn warns, ‘By selecting this option, your activity updates will be shared in your activity feed… You may want to turn this option off if you’re looking for a job and don’t want your present employer to see that you’re updating your profile.’ Great advice.
Remember to save changes before exiting this control.
You can also activate this option in ‘Edit Profile’ mode, where an option appears at the bottom of the right hand portrait-shaped toolbar.
It asks ‘Notify your network?’ and you can slide the bar to ‘No, do not publish an update to my network about my profile changes.’
You can change this again when you are ready to share your new profile with your contacts. Once you select ‘Yes’, you can remove and re-add an element of your updated profile, such as your new Headline or Summary, thus alerting your network to your new content.
Select who can see your activity feed
If you are planning a proactive job search campaign, leveraging LinkedIn to engage with would-be employers and potential door openers, it would be worth checking this privacy setting to control visibility of your engagements.
You can opt for your activity feed to be visible to everyone, your connections, your network, or only you.
‘Only you’ is the safest option during a profile edit or overhaul.
If you are connected to a selective cohort from your current place of work, and would be happy for these contacts to see your activity, select ‘your connections’. This refers to first-degree connections.
Bear in mind that selecting ‘your network’ will enable your first, second, and third degree connections to view your activity feed. It could be that second and third degree connections include people you’d rather not share with.
It’s not possible to lock down everything, as LinkedIn warns: “Your activity feed displays actions you’ve performed on LinkedIn. Please note that any Updates you ‘Share with Public’ and all Posts that you publish will be visible to everyone on your activity feed regardless of this setting.”
On the other hand, if you are conducting a public job search, it may be beneficial to select ‘everyone’ to maximise your exposure and accelerate new leads. ‘Everyone’ refers to LinkedIn members in and outside of your network.
Whatever you opt for, remember to save your changes.
Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile
The options here are:
> Your name and headline (Recommended)
> Semi-private profile characteristics such as industry and title
> Complete private mode
If you are planning to seek profile inspiration from other LinkedIn members, or search contacts in target organisations, but are not ready for them to view your profile, you may wish to amend this privacy setting to ‘complete private mode’. I personally don’t see the point of sharing semi-private characteristics.
Once your LinkedIn profile is in tip-top shape with an engaging photo and compelling headline, you can reselect the ‘Your name and headline (recommended)’ option, so that the people you search up can see who you are and what you can offer them.
Show/hide ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed’ box
If you are in full-on job search mode, you may wish to disable this functionality. It’s tactical to make it harder for recruiters to find and view the profiles of similar candidates. Of course, yours won’t be the only profile they look at, but make it less easy for someone to click off your profile and onto the next. Uncheck ‘Display ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed’ box on my Profile page.
Edit your public profile
Under Privacy & Settings > Helpful Links, you’ll find an option to ‘edit your public profile’, thus determining how your LinkedIn profile is viewed by specific audiences and in search engine results.
Edit your public profile options to select the information you’d like to share. You can select ‘Make my public profile visible to no one’ or ‘Make my public profile visible to everyone’.
Bear in mind that making your profile public will increase your likelihood of being found, however, you’ll need to balance this with your own privacy requirements. Check and uncheck sub-options to clarify exactly what will be visible on a public level.
It’s well worth investing the time to check each of your privacy controls before overhauling your profile or embarking on your job search as it can save much worry and embarrassment. When things change, revisit your privacy controls to make sure they are appropriate for your new circumstances and career goals.