LinkedIn: Confidential Job Search Tips

By Kristin S Johnson

     You are thinking of changing jobs. Maybe your current company doesn't have the opportunities you are looking for. Or, your boss drives you nuts. Whatever the reason, you want to make a change and you know the best way to find ideas for your search is through LinkedIn.
     Have you wondered what your employer thinks about your LinkedIn activity? You probably don't want to spill the beans to your boss that you are looking elsewhere, or you might lose your job before you intend to. You'll want to conduct your search in a more confidential way, and take certain precautions on LinkedIn.
     Making new connections, when you haven't been previously, could alert your employer to your impending departure before you're ready. If you are connecting to someone working at a competitor, to a recruiter, or to a resume writer, you are taking a risk that your boss might question you about your loyalty to the company.
     How to prevent this? Here are ten easy steps to adjust your settings:
  1. Click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen next to the search box.
  2. Pull down to "Settings."
  3. Enter your password.
  4. Look in the middle of the screen, under "Privacy Controls."
  5. Click on "Turn on/off your activity broadcasts."
  6. Un-check the box that says "Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow companies." Save changes.
  7. Click on "Select Who Can See Your Activity Feed."
  8. Find "Your activity feed displays actions you've performed on LinkedIn."
  9. Select who can see your activity feed. Set to "Only You."
  10. Save changes.
     While you are in there, make sure the email address you use is a personal one. Why shouldn't you have your company's email for your LinkedIn contact? If you suddenly leave, one of the first things that will happen is that your email will be shut down. You might have problems getting into your LinkedIn account without it.
     There are additional ways to keep things under wraps on LinkedIn:
  • Don't post that you are in a job search in your status updates or on your profile.
  • Don't check the box that you are open to career opportunities.
  • Don't post in Groups or Answers that you are looking for a new job.
So what should you do?
  • Make sure your profile is complete, well-branded, and appealing to employers you'd like to target for future career opportunities.
  • Post content that is relevant to your field, your company, or that you've contributed to in order to showcase your expertise.
  • Contribute to Groups and Answers, generously giving knowledge back to your LinkedIn community.
     Some clients wonder if they should allow anyone to see their contacts. You risk your boss knowing who you know, but you also may run the risk of them being suspicious because you are so locked down. So, the answer is that it really depends on your industry, how competitive it is, and how comfortable you are in each scenario.
     You should make sure that you not allow people to see any job search groups that you belong to. Although, be aware that other people in your group can rat you out. There may be someone in the group who knows your boss, or someone else from your company who is moving on. The possible ramifications of a confidential search can make a person downright crazy.
     Thinking of a back-up plan in case your intentions are discovered either from virtual or in-person activity will alleviate some of this tension. Weigh your options. Could you do consulting if they fire you for looking elsewhere? Should you discuss your situation openly with your boss in hopes that they'd offer you what you need to stay? Do you have your resume ready? Do you have some savings? Make sure you've dealt with these important questions before taking risks in a confidential search.
     Talking these dilemmas through with a job search coach can prevent you from unnecessarily giving yourself away. It's reassuring to have a partner who can alert you to tricky situations you wouldn't have considered otherwise.
     With any job transition, there are risks. But, having your boss see all of your activity on LinkedIn is one you don't need to take! Log in and change your settings today.

Kristin S. Johnson, Writer, Coach, Owner of Profession Direction, LLC
Target Your Success Today!
     Need Help With Your LinkedIn Profile? Visit the Profession Direction website for our services and pricing, and to book a consultation. We'd be happy to talk to you about how we might help.
Kristin is a five-times certified career writer, job search coach, and social media consultant with an approach that is cutting-edge, creative and kind. She owns Profession Direction, LLC and works with professionals across the country. Her clients enjoy the reassurance of having professionally-written documents, finding clarity and direction in their job search, feeling at ease with social media and in-person networking, and earning more income faster.