I used to tell clients that it was a good idea to be on LinkedIn. Now I consider LinkedIn to be a core component of a comprehensive career management strategy. Having said that, there is a dark side to using the professional networking site – it can be very easy for your current employer to learn that you are seeking other opportunities.
I wish I could say that employers weren’t using sites like LinkedIn to monitor their employees. But I can’t. So here are a few tips for ways that you can use LinkedIn without making it obvious that you are actively searching (or just keeping your options open).
Maintain an active and consistent LI presence – This is just a good career management practice. Consistent networking and exploring your area of focus is one way to stay on the leading edge and a great step in making yourself indispensible. It also eliminates the chance that you will have visible “spikes” in LI activity that could tip your current employer off to your desire to fly the coop.
Get to know the privacy settings – LinkedIn’s default settings can make you an over-sharer. For example, by default everyone in your network is notified when you make any edits to your profile or make a new connection. The first thing you should do when you start using LI is to go in and customize those settings. Yes, making your profile and activity less visible could limit your ability to make new connections. I think that is a small price to pay for the piece of mind that comes with knowing that every move you make is not being broadcast to your network.
Keep your profile concise – Uploading your entire resume to LinkedIn screams “I’m looking for work.” Even if you are, it’s not a great use of the digital space (and it could mean you are disclosing details that could peeve your current employer). Instead, provide high-level overviews for each of your roles. Use the Summary to highlight a few major accomplishments so that your impact is clear.
Even if you work for a employer that is looking over your digital shoulder, you can still make effective use of tools like LinkedIn. It just means you need to be very mindful of what you share and with whom you share it. Actually, this is just a good idea regardless of how nosey your current employer is.