So for a light beach read today I’m continuing to check in on the unfolding LinkedIn Stalking story. The Boss Man asked my thoughts… it’s not easy to just pipe out a quick retort with my own personal history and what I do for a living.
My thought, as human beings, is that we should look out for one another and care that all are safe. Workplace, home, vacation… I don’t want anyone fearful for their life or well being on my watch.
Reality for some doesn’t mesh up with that. And social media, well it does lend itself to helping strangers understand where, who and what we are about. And we choose to be there. Many sites let us choose who gets to be there with us, and who we prefer not join us on the ride.
LinkedIn is interesting because it enables users to cloak themselves in anonymity. You don’t necessarily know who is viewing your profile. And here’s the kicker, access is sold, and not just to recruiters. And it isn’t necessarily prohibitively expensive, and I’m guessing a stalker wouldn’t let that slow them down.
And some might argue, if you’re job searching, you want to have a LinkedIn profile. It’s such a great tool for networking and housing your professional information, it seems like a no brainer to be on it to make yourself findable. But when you realize that you’re getting interest from potential employers… and nasty creepers… well… there has to be an alternative.
Right now, it doesn’t appear that LinkedIn is interested in creating a general user block feature. There are only 7k signatures on the petition requesting it and LinkedIn has 220 million profiles. I’m thinking they need more numbers before they consider it a valid request.
So it forces me to look at this from the perspective of what if it was me? Or my friends? What would I advise? If we’re going common sense…I’d advise this:
- Document. That’s the ol’ HR gal in me. Screenshot every single time you see your stalker viewing your profile. Emails? Print and save and create a file. Documentation with time stamps will back you up if you have to pursue a TRO or other steps.
- Know your state and your laws. A couple of helpful resources, the NCSL and FCC offer some opportunity to protect yourself.
- Create a skeletal profile with a link to your detailed resume or another social media profile. Look, if LinkedIn won’t protect you, you need to protect you and to me there’s two options here. One is super easy – don’t be on social media. But two, if you really want to be there to do a job search – put your detailed information on a site where people may be blocked or a have to be a “friend” to view it. There is no reason that you can’t say in the summary section of your LinkedIn profile something to the effect of….
My complete resume and online profile is available at Google+ or via request. Message me if you’d like access.
- Hide your activity from your stalker. Within the Account Settings feature on LinkedIn you can hide the groups you’re a member of, your activity updates and so on. Limit who can see your network updates.
- Create a separate email for your career contacts. This is just a good practice as a whole. You should check it daily if you’re looking for a new opportunity but if you need to protect yourself from a digital stalker, than by all means have an unpublicized personal account and one you use for your job search/inquiries.
Or… You Can Do The Above AND Get Really Bold…
It occurs to me that perhaps the best way to make stalking more public on LinkedIn is to create a social media campaign. What if, just what if, you used your profile to push the issue forward? In that case I’d advise:
- Network Like Crazy. Everyone you’ve every known. Join TopLinked. Ask your Network to pass the word. Join Groups. Create Groups.
- Tweak that profile. Your summary should inform those visiting your mission. Why you’re using LinkedIn. Where they can sign the petition. How they can email LinkedIn to push the issue. And, that until LinkedIn grows a pair that they should visit you on site xyz.com where your information can be blocked from harassing behavior.
- Share the message. Write. Speak. Get Loud. There are thousands of HR groups in the US that would be happy to host you. Find legal eagles to take it as a serious issue (this would be an ideal issue for the AEIS Conference).
- By all means, let your network know about all the instances you’re stalked. Share the messages. Not sure what legal counsel would advise but damn it, if I’ll share a Thank You note on G+, you should be able to share harassing behavior to protect yourself.
A Final Thought: If you can’t get LinkedIn to go for a block feature with a petition, maybe, just maybe, you should think of a different resolution. LinkedIn is financially driven, right? Money makes the world go round? Hit ’em where it hurts and become an advocate, a zealot even, for a site that protects and allows you to be findable (hint, hint, Google+). Write about it, Vine it, Youtube the best practice, distribute it everywhere! Message your network and tell them about your epiphany and where your new professional home is. Recruiters will thank you – we spend thousands on increased access at LinkedIn and a site like G+ is free. Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s find the positive….and if there’s another site that will help you achieve that, shift the paradigm.