There is a lot of great advice out there for job seekers on how to use LinkedIn to build their personal brands and find new career opportunities.
Some of these tips include maintaining a 100% complete LinkedIn profile, building your network of connections, getting recommendations, sharing valuable and relevant content to enhance your personal brand, joining and contributing to industry-specific and job search LinkedIn groups, following companies, applying for opportunities via LinkedIn Jobs, and more.
However, I am often asked how professionals who are currently employed can leverage LinkedIn effectively, yet discreetly, without compromising their current job security.
Here are 5 critical steps to ensure your LinkedIn job search efforts are successful, yet go undetected by your current employers:
1. Stay Off the FeedWhether you’re already active on LinkedIn with a 100% complete profile or you’re just getting started, the first thing to do is to change your privacy settings so that your activity is not automatically broadcast to your network in the news feed and so your network cannot see your activity feed on your profile. Here’s how:
- Once signed in to your account, click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and click on “Settings” in the dropdown menu.
- Find “Profile” in the bottom section of this “Settings” page and then “Privacy Controls” to the right.
- First, click on “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.” Un-check the box that says “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies.” Click the “Save changes” button.
- Next, click on “Select Who Can See Your Activity Feed.” Set this to “Only You.” Click the “Save changes” button.
2. Don’t Openly Advertise Your Job SearchHiding your activity from the news feed doesn’t make all of your LinkedIn activity totally undetectable. While this may seem obvious, be very careful not to openly advertise your job search. Here are some examples to consider:
- DO NOT post any LinkedIn status updates that would imply that you are dissatisfied with your current job and/or looking for a new job opportunity. DO post status updates that demonstrate your expertise and interests and that support your personal brand.
- DO NOT include language anywhere in your profile implying that you are dissatisfied with your current job and/or looking for a new job opportunity. DO leverage your profile as a selling document for you and your personal brand by including your accomplishments, skills and more.
- DO NOT post anything openly related to your job search in LinkedIn Answers or in LinkedIn Groups, especially those related to job search. This doesn’t mean you can’t participate in these places. It just means you should focus your participation and contributions on building your personal brand in your area of expertise and should message people of interest directly and thus, discreetly.
- DO NOT show all of your groups on your profile. When joining LinkedIn groups related to job search or any groups you don’t want people from your current employer to see, go immediately to the group after joining, click on the “More” tab and click on “Your Settings” in the dropdown menu. Under “Visibility Settings,” un-check “Display the group logo on your profile.”
- DO NOT ask your current manager or colleagues for LinkedIn recommendations. You can ask previous managers and colleagues, but just be careful when they also work for the same employer. You can always say, “I just wanted to ask you for your feedback before too much time had passed since we had worked together.”
- DO NOT display the optional Job Seeker badge on your profile if you choose to pay for a premium LinkedIn account.