Creating a successful profile on LinkedIn is essential for jobseekers looking to stand out from the competition. However, when you're already employed, updating your public profile might have serious consequences if done incorrectly or at the wrong time. That's why it's important for employed professionals to carefully consider their approach when making changes – and learn some tips along the way – so they can make updates that won't lead to potential HR issues down the road! In this blog post, we'll share strategies to help you update your LinkedIn profile without risking your current job.
Will People Actually See the Changes?
Before getting into the specifics of your update, it is important to first understand the risks of updating your LinkedIn profile. The reality is that most people spend a lot less time on your profile than you think.
In fact, LinkedIn reports that the average person on LinkedIn spends only about 17 minutes a month. LinkedIn also reports that the messages between existing connections have also significantly since the pandemic. This means that most people are on LinkedIn to catch up with their connections and their industry.
So, does your LinkedIn profile even matter in that case? Yes, more than most people realize. First and foremost, people will look at your profile when applying to jobs or during the hiring process to learn more about you. The hiring manager will want to see the details about your experience, your network, and posts to better understand who they are potentially hiring. This means that you can share the details beyond your resume with the people who make the hiring decision before you even get into the interview.
Second, the fields on your LinkedIn profile are key to the ability to show up in searches by recruiters. This is because the recruiters and their systems all use those fields to search for people with particular experience or skills. You will not show up in those searches unless you have the information on your profile in the right places. In fact, many companies will have LinkedIn directly integrated with their applicant tracking systems. These connections are built on the fields on your profile in many cases. Thus, an incomplete LinkedIn profile will translate into an incomplete candidate profile in the employer's system and most likely result in immediate rejection.
Be Smart About Your Profile Update
Now that you understand why it is important to update your LinkedIn profile, let's dive into the best practices for updating it so that you can keep your current job.
Options for Controlling Visibility
You get one LinkedIn profile and want to make sure that you have the right information on your profile to maximize your job search efforts. But, you also want to make those changes in a way that doesn't rock the boat with your current job. Here are some of the pros and cons of controlling the visibility of your profile.
Keep it Private
This is probably the most extreme option and harmful to most job searches. LinkedIn allows users to hide components of their profile from their connections and from the public. This is harmful to your job search because most people aren't connected with the recruiters or hiring managers at the companies where they would like to work. Thus, if you opt for this route, then the people who you actually want to see your profile will not be able to see what they need to see.
Also, by using this setting, you won't be able to hide the fact that you have a profile. Instead, you are simply concealing the details on your profile that matter to those who may be considering you for the job that you are pursuing.
Nevertheless, there are reasons why controlling the visibility of your public profile is right for some people or at least parts of it. To change the visibility of your public profile, you can do the following:
- Go to your profile
- Click on the "Edit Public Profile & URL" option in the upper right corner (under the LinkedIn navigation bar for most).
- In the new screen, scroll down and turn off or turn on the visibility of the parts of your profile that you want people connected or not connected to see.
- Minimum fields recommended to keep public on any profile (Name, Profile picture, Education, Work Experience)
Another option that can be helpful for some jobseekers is to block certain people. Blocking someone on LinkedIn means that the specific person won't be able to see your profile or activity on LinkedIn. However, making that change means that you need to know the name of the person that you don't want to see on your profile. Thus, in larger organizations, you won't always know the name of the HR person in your company which could raise a red flag about your profile. And, making this change could also trigger warning signals if you are connected with your boss already and you all of a sudden block them.
But, if you do know the name of the person to block and doing so wouldn't create more trouble, then it can make sense to block a particular person on LinkedIn. Here is how to block someone on LinkedIn:
- Go to the profile of the person you want to block
- Click on the ellipses (three dots) in the upper right corner of their profile
- Select "Block or Report" from the drop-down menu
- In the new window, click on "Block".
- Keep in mind that blocking someone is a permanent action and if you decide to unblock them, you will need to do so manually.
Change Visibility of Updates
LinkedIn used to notify everyone that you were making changes to your profile. That is no longer the case. However, LinkedIn will notify your network if you make changes to your current job. For most people, that's not a good idea - even if you have been let go and want to broadcast the fact that you are looking. The reality is that you are best served by controlling who and when you communicate changes in your current job.
To do that, you will want to turn off the notice of changes to your current job. To do that:
- Go to "Me" in the LinkedIn navigation bar
- Select "Settings & Privacy" from the drop-down.
- In the new window, select "Visibility" on the left side.
- Scroll down to "Share profile updates with your network"
- Turn this off
Also, when you add a new job, LinkedIn will ask if you want to tell your network. You can opt-out of that by clicking the button to avoid updating your network or posting about the change.
Be Careful About Your Profile
The content on your profile can also be a big cue about your intentions with your current employer. Meaning that you should be smart about what you put on your profile and make sure that it doesn't communicate anything inappropriate.
This doesn't mean that you should avoid putting anything on your profile. Instead, it means that you should put the right details on your LinkedIn profile. This includes your skills, strengths, and results. You can complete your profile without jeopardizing your current job.
The best practice here is to tell the story of what you have done across your career in the same way that you would if you were at an interview or networking event. Incorporate the details that illustrate your strengths and value without bad-mouthing your employer or sharing confidential information. Doing this will convey a lot of important information to the people and the systems that may be looking without directly telling anyone that you are looking for a job.
Answers to Questions by Current Job
But, what if someone at your current job sees all the updates to your profile and asks you about them? What should you tell that person? Here are the best ways to address those questions from your current job without telling them that you may be looking.
LinkedIn is the professional networking site globally. Having a strong profile and network on LinkedIn can make everyone better at their current jobs - even if they aren't customer facing. LinkedIn provides an opportunity to showcase your skills, get connected with the right people, and even find other job opportunities.
So, if asked about why you updated your profile, tell the person asking why - that it makes you and the company more credible. You want people to know what you do at the organization and what the company does. Adding the level of detail to your profile can also serve to elevate the credibility of the company with its clients, vendors, and partners. So, take advantage of that opportunity and do so. The added bonus may be that it also helps you in your efforts to look for a job or to otherwise advance your career.
Makes You More Effective
Updating your LinkedIn profile is also the first step towards building and engaging your professional network. So, when asked, you can tell someone at your current job that you did so in order to become more engaged in the industry, with your clients, vendors, etc.
This can make you more effective at your job because you will have strong ties that make it easier to do your job. You will also be able to see trends and have resources in the industry to ask questions when needed. All of these things can make you better at your current job and they start with updating your profile.
Finally, a bit of honesty may be the best policy. You can tell your current employer that you want to stay abreast of trends in the industry, network with peers and mentors, and even look for professional development opportunities. It is completely honest to say this and should not raise any red flags. Plus, if done sincerely it may even shine a positive light on you and your commitment to the job.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is to be proactive with your profile and make sure that it doesn't communicate any wrong messages or intentions. Then, if asked about why you updated it, tell them honestly but don't give out too much information if you don't feel comfortable. That way, you can be sure that your profile is up-to-date and professional without putting yourself in any awkward positions.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date while maintaining your current job. You will be able to make the most out of this valuable networking resource and still keep your job safe at the same time.
It is important to remember that your LinkedIn profile can be a powerful networking tool, so make sure you use it wisely and professionally. With proper updating and an honest approach, you can leverage it to further your career without compromising your current job.
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