One of the biggest fears people have about creating or updating their LinkedIn profile is that their employer will see the changes. After all, you don’t want your boss to know you’re looking for another job until you’ve found one.
The good news is that it’s perfectly possible to create a strong LinkedIn profile – one that attracts recruiter attention – without alerting your current employer. Here’s how.
Change your settings
Navigate to “Settings” and look for the option “Turn on/off your activity broadcasts.” Uncheck the box, hit “Save changes” and you’re ready to start editing your profile without anyone knowing.
Note that you should change this back once you’re done, as these updates are a key way of keeping your name in front of your contacts (which might be important if one of them is looking to hire someone like you in the future).
Write a smart headline
Linked In allows you to write a headline that appears right under your name. When a recruiter is searching for candidates, they see this headline first and it determines whether they choose to read the rest of your profile. So of course, you want it to be compelling. But make it too self-promotional, and your boss, should she stumble upon your profile might wonder why you are advertising your qualifications quite so prominently.
For example this …
Highly effective marketing manager with 10 years of experience. Expertise in social media and web marketing
… definitely sounds like you’re looking for a new job.
Instead, start with your current title and then add information that would be important for recruiters to know, but in the context of your current work. For example …
Manager of Digital Marketing for XYZ Corp | Oversee social media, web advertising, email campaigns and SEO/SEM across 8 countries.
Now your headline reads like a networking headline rather than a self-promotional one. And yet, it will be just as attractive to recruiters – or maybe more so, because they prefer candidates who are currently employed.
Keep the hype out of your summary section
Exactly the same principle applies when it comes to writing your summary. You want it to convey that you are successful and content in your current role, so that no one at your current employer gets suspicious and so that recruiters see you as a desirable candidate.
Remember, if you changed your settings before you started to write the profile no one will have been alerted about the changes. But that doesn’t mean they won’t see your profile some time in the future and it’s better safe than sorry.
Start your summary by stating your current situation, for example:
I am the manager of digital marketing for XYZ Corp…
Be sure to express enjoyment of your work:
I’ve been in this job for 3 years and what I most enjoy is …
Weave in your experience and qualifications as part of the narrative, rather than as hype.
When I was offered the job 3 years ago, it was a natural extension of what I had been doing for the prior few years. While I started my career in traditional marketing (in both companies and agencies) I had begin to develop expertise in the realm of digital marketing. I loved the combination of creativity and technology, and especially I loved the ability to measure and analyze every campaign in a way that just wasn’t possible online.
Keep this approach in mind throughout the whole summary, writing to describe yourself and provide information rather than to self-promote (all the while, self-promoting like mad of course!)
Close with something that explains your presence on LinkedIn:
I’d love to reconnect with old colleagues and I’m always open to new connections, so please feel free to send me an invite.
Follow these 3 steps and you’ll have a profile that attracts recruiters and potential employers without ever letting your current company about your search.
If you’d like a complete template for writing your LinkedIn profile, download my Blue Sky Guide to LinkedIn. You’ll get step-by-step instructions with screenshots for every aspect of the site. Follow the guidelines and you will get headhunted. That’s a promise!
[artwork by conveniencestoregourmet via Flickr]