You’re job-hunting and you need to keep it under wraps. But you need to use LinkedIn to help you land your next job. So how do you run a confidential job search on LinkedIn?
Something like 90% of my executive job-seeking clients face the same dilemma. They’re still employed, but looking to move on for various reasons.
They can’t broadcast that they’re actively seeking opportunities . . . on LinkedIn . . . or anywhere online . . . or to too many people.
But, they’ll probably need to add to, or change, the content in their LinkedIn profile to position themselves as good-fit candidates for their target employers. And they’ll need to ramp up their activity on LinkedIn.
Accomplishing this, while staying undercover, may seem impossible to do. But with a stealthy strategy and an understanding of how LinkedIn works, you can do a pretty good job of it.
Be prepared if people become suspicious.
First, it needs to be stressed that, no matter how many safeguards you put in place, some people may notice if you’re making changes to your profile to gear up for job search, and suspect what you’re up to. I advise my clients to have a ready answer, in case people ask. Saying something like this should suffice,
“I haven’t updated my profile in a long time. I wanted to better position the value our company offers, and the value my team and I bring to the table.”
The key here is to be sure that all the content in your profile, and all of your LinkedIn activities, support your employer, and yourself as an employee of that company or organization. Luckily, this strategy will also support, and provide evidence, of the value you offer future employers.
5 Thing You Can Do to Run a Confidential Job Search on LinkedIn
LinkedIn constantly changes the way the site functions, so the features and steps I describe below to protect your undercover search may not function or be accessed, or work in quite the same way, as this post ages. This is how these things work at this writing.
1. Don’t broadcast your job-seeking status.
This may be obvious, but I’ll mention it anyway – Don’t post any updates in your feed that speak to the fact that you’re job-hunting. Updates are open to the world to see. (Note that “posting updates” is different from “updating” your profile content)
And don’t note anywhere on your profile itself that you’re “seeking a position in . . .” or “looking for opportunities in . . .”
2. Safely view other LinkedIn profiles without them knowing.
For competitive intelligence and to pick up ideas to improve your own LinkedIn profile, search for and read the profiles of people with jobs similar to yours, and those working at your target companies.
To keep those people from knowing that you’re snooping on them and potentially “out” you, go again to “Settings & Privacy”. Under “Privacy” look for “Profile viewing options” and select “Private mode”. You can turn this back on once you’re done snooping, so that your “profile stats” will be enabled again.
3. Add or change profile content slowly.
Many of my client have very little content in their profiles before they come to me. People may be suspicious if they view your profile, and it’s suddenly loaded with content, with many new sections populated. It may make sense to add just a section or two at a time over a week or two.
4. Be careful with LinkedIn Groups
Just like every other executive job seeker, you need to get involved with LinkedIn Groups. And you’ll find it helpful to join some Groups that focus on job search.
You’ll need to be very careful about what you post in Group conversations. Don’t let on that you’re job-hunting or testing the waters. Instead, use Groups to demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership, and to stay top of mind with your target employers.
And remember that, although Groups are not wide open to all members like the rest of LinkedIn, there could well be members in your Group that could jeopardize your confidential job search on LinkedIn.
5. Choose who can see your connections.
When you’re actively job hunting, you’ll need to connect with executive recruiters and other hiring professionals. You won’t want your current employer and co-workers to know you’re connected with them. Go again to “Settings & Privacy”, click on “Privacy” and then “Who can see your connections”, and choose “Only you” in the drop-down.
But this is not a complete fix. You’ll note LinkedIn’s caveat in that section, “Members will still be able to see connections who endorse you and connections they share with you. (Don’t want your endorsements visible? Just choose to opt out)”. You opt out by scrolling down under “Privacy” to “Profile visibility off LinkedIn”, and toggling to “No”. Read more on this LinkedIn Help page, and click on “Other services (formerly “third party applications”), excluding search engines”.