So you want to use LinkedIn…but you don’t want to get fired…what do you do?

Recruiting can be a dangerous place…judgments can abound.

I’ve written before about past responsibilities I’ve had as a sourcer.  During telecom’s peak in 2000, my company proactively searched job boards to retain staff that were testing the waters for new careers.  That was a time when a candidate could post a resume and within 24 hours be interviewing or on a plane to a first round face-to-face.  The candidate hunt was aggressive.

These days, just creating a LinkedIn profile can get you into trouble as this executive found out.

If you’re going to create a profile on LinkedIn, just for the heck of it, here are some guidelines:

Read the “Settings” section – you can do important things in that section like turning off your activity broadcasts.  Why would you do that? Because then everyone you’re connected to will not be aware of who you’ve connected to or updates you’ve made to your profile.  Consider yourself in stealth mode.

Don’t say you’re looking for “career opportunities”…. unless you’re an active jobseeker.  People, even your trusted workmates, infer what they will.  Some recruiters might not contact you if that’s not visible, then others, like me, will still reach out to see if the opportunity I have is something you would consider.  Yet, all the while, you’re not jumping up and down with a sign saying “I’m on the market…look at me…look at me!”

Do you want to have a public profile? It’s a consideration.  I want you to have one – but that’s me speaking as a sourcer.  You don’t have to, and quite honestly I can still view your private profile within LinkedIn.  If you do choose to have a public profile – this option is edit-able in “settings” and you can choose how much information you reveal to Joe Sourcer.

Watch your level of detail.  A LinkedIn profile screams “I’m on the hunt” when it has the level of detail of a resume.  Yes – this flies in the face of what I really want you to do – again –  as a sourcer I want you to use every professional keyword you can to describe yourself… but there are alternatives if you’re really just testing the waters.  You can embed a link to your resume or link to your blog or an alternate profile site.  Something that on the surface looks like a link but with exploration yields more professional information… I’m good with that.

Inputting lots of dates? Be accurate.  You never know when someone is going to wonder why your graduation date doesn’t mesh with your resume or you messed up when you were actually laid off.

Tread lightly as you venture on to professional networking sites… look at the full picture and the impact it can have on your career.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be there, but you should upload information thoughtfully and not like a bull in a china shop.



FOT Background Check

Kelly Dingee
Kelly Dingee is a Senior Manager, Global Talent Acquisition for Marriott International. She has extensive sourcing experience having worked for Staffing Advisors (retained search), AIRS (training!) and Thales Communications, Inc., (cleared/telecom) and got her start in the profession while a full life cycle recruiter at Acterna (now known as Viavi). Lucky for Kelly, she had a boss who could see the potential of sourcing candidates from the web, and in 1998, she stepped into a newly created sourcing role. No truth to the rumor that she has a side business to help you push your resume to the top of Google search results…


  1. Steve Gifford says:

    The dates issue can also be finessed on Linkedin; the system lets you put in years, but leave months blank. This can help reduce the risk of a sourcer knocking you out for an unexplained gap — you can explain it later, when you’re in the door.

  2. kelly dingee says:

    Good point….although perception…is it 9/10th of the law in HR? Unfortunately some people take an omission as a lie. I know I struggle with that – look at my profile and eons ago there’s a gap – I was laid off, had a kid, and then got a consulting gig – but it’s almost two years of time in total….so I get what you’re saying…

  3. Tim says:

    I read the Telegraph piece. The company policy on conflicts of interest “banned employees ticking the ‘career opportunities’ box” – which is, in itself, a violation of his privacy and utterly unfair. It also told him to remove all references to his position with them. These are not the policies of a 21st Century company, more like a 19th Century Dickensian employer. Sorry the man lost his job but he’s better off not working for that kind of employer, IMO.

  4. Ben Martinez says:

    Kelly–Good insight about issues I have pondered recently. I have been working on my company’s senior leaders to bring them up to speed on social media. Your post triggered my brain to think of how a company and LinkedIn could approach this dilemma.

    I wonder if LinkedIn has ever looked into creating a private social network as part of LinkedIn. Similar to the the private social networking site, Yammer. But let me further explain below with an example:

    1. ABC Company decides to use LinkedIn as a private social network. LinkedIn can offer this free or charge $.
    2. Any employee of ABC company who has a LinkedIn profile will be in the private network. They can keep their public profile and it will still be there, but it will also exist on ABC Company’s private social network.
    3. The employee no longer has to update their career history on ABC Company’s performance management or career management database because it would already be on LinkedIn. In fact, ABC company could kill their current internal system and save bucks.
    4. Employees don’t have to worry about getting fired for using LinkedIn. Bosses don’t have to worry about their employees being on LinkedIn. It makes sense for both parties to be there.
    5. LinkedIn could design it so the private social network could also act as ABC Company’s performance management system. They could set privacy settings and allow managers to use it for coaching, annual appraisals. and succession planning information.
    6. The best part…is that when a job opening occurs, a manager would have visibility to every employee that has the skills or competencies for his job. Many managers already look at their own people on LinkedIn to learn more about them. So why not make it easier for them? LinkedIn could also design the system so a manager can see people from outside the company who might be a fit for their job.

    I imagine there are some smart people at LinkedIn that could figure out how to do something like this. I’m sure there are naysayers about offering a private social network component to LinkedIn. But I don’t see how a company will ever be able to stop their people from using LinkedIn. They might as well follow the direction of the current.

  5. kelly dingee says:

    Ben –

    Interesting idea.

    I think the only way LinkedIn would go that route is if it would make them a huge amount of money…

  6. Steve Levy says:

    Kelly…some companies and managers sure do need to find a life! Do they have any idea why people have LinkedIn profiles in the first place? Otherwise I believe it’s called slavery.

    If you want to be a stealth jobseeker, uncheck career stuff but include a fully loaded SEO paragraph with all buzzwords known to evil sourcers and recruiters.

  7. Margo Rose says:

    Hi Kelly:

    I just gave a presentation last week where ironically, I mentioned a few of the tips you mentioned above. On one hand, job seekers wants to be found by someone like you. On the other hand, it is incumbent upon them to make sure the information they post is accurate, and consistent with their resume, the job they have, and the job they want to do next. All too often I see people posting ridiculous things to LinkedIn. It surprises me frankly. I also frequently warn the job seekers in The HFChat-HireFriday community to start thinking like recruiters. Look for a job with the same stealth, and skill that a recruiter looks for you and you will cut your job search time in half. I devoted an entire chapter to this in my soon to be published book, HireFriday 3.0. LinkedIn is a sophisticated business search engine. It’s not a low rent job board. Job boards now have to find new ways to leverage mobile technology in order to remain competitive. The more social media savvy job seekers become, the less need there is for recruiters, and job boards because they can leverage social networks to get direct contact with companies, their leaders, and their jobs.

    Blogs, social networks, and mobile technology are shifting the power from the company to the job seeker. Even though the economy is still lopsided, unemployed people can and should learn how to use tools like LinkedIn, and take your advice. Your advice is solid. Rock solid in fact. I only wish more people would take it.

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  9. Uhhh says:

    Can someone explain to me why having a “gap” in employment is perceived as a bad thing?

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