5 Ways to Keep Your Executive Job Search Confidential on LinkedIn

by Meg Guiseppi on March 1, 2017

How to successfully job hunt on LinkedIn without people knowing.


Something like 90% of my c-suite and senior-level executive clients need to keep their job search under wraps. They’re still employed, but looking to move on for various reasons.

They can’t broadcast that they’re actively seeking opportunities . . . on LinkedIn . . . or anywhere online . . . or to too many people.

But, they’ll probably need to add to, or change, the content in their LinkedIn profile to position themselves as good-fit candidates for their target employers. And they’ll need to ramp up their activity on LinkedIn.

Accomplishing this, while staying undercover, doesn’t pose a major challenge, but it does require stealthy strategy, and an understanding of how LinkedIn works.

Be prepared if people become suspicious.

First, it needs to be stressed that, no matter how many safeguards you put in place, some people may notice if you’re making changes to your profile to gear up for job search, and suspect what you’re up to. I advise my clients to have a ready answer, in case people ask. Saying something like this should suffice,

“I haven’t updated my profile in a long time. I wanted to better position the value our company offers, and the value my team and I bring to the table.”

The key here is to be sure that all the content in your profile, and all of your LinkedIn activities, support your employer, and yourself as an employee of that company or organization. Luckily, this strategy will also support, and provide evidence, of the value you offer your target employers.

Something obvious I’ll mention anyway – Don’t share updates (this is different from “updating” your profile content) about what kind of position you’re seeking, or note anywhere on your profile that you’re “seeking . . .” or “looking for . . .”

5 Ways to Keep Your Executive Job Search Undercover On LinkedIn

LinkedIn constantly changes the way the site functions, so the features and steps I describe below to protect your undercover search may not function or be accessed or work in quite the same way, as this post ages.

1. Turn off notifications to your network.

Before you make any changes to your LinkedIn profile or add new content, temporarily change the settings on your profile for notifications to your network. This way your connections won’t be notified that you’ve made a change and become suspicious that you’re job hunting.

When you’re done making profile changes, go back into Settings and turn notifications back on.

2. Safely view other LinkedIn profiles without them knowing.

For competitive intelligence and to pick up ideas to improve your own LinkedIn profile, search for and read the profiles of people with jobs similar to yours, and those working at your target companies.

To keep those people from knowing that you’re snooping on them and potentially “out” you, go again to Settings, and look for the mechanism to go into private mode. You can turn this back on once you’re done snooping.

3. Add or change profile content slowly.

Many of my client have very little content in their profiles before they come to me. People coming upon their suddenly fully fleshed out profile, with many new sections populated, may become suspicious. It may make sense to add just a section or two at a time over a week or two.

4. Be careful with LinkedIn Groups

Just like every other executive job seeker, you need to get involved with LinkedIn Groups. But you won’t want your employer and your network to be notified when you join new job-search related Groups. Go again to your Settings, find Group Communications and select “No” for “Would you like to publish an update to your network whenever you join a group?”, or whatever is the latest LinkedIn configuration to this effect.

When you join LinkedIn Groups that may sabotage your confidential job search, DON’T choose the option to have the Group listed on your profile.

And you need to be very careful about what you post in Group discussions. Don’t let on that you’re job-hunting or testing the waters. Instead, use Groups to demonstrate your subject matter expertise and thought leadership, and to stay top of mind with your target employers.

5. Choose who can see your connections.

When you’re actively job hunting, you’ll need to connect with executive recruiters and other hiring professionals. You won’t want your current employer and co-workers to know you’re connected with them. Go again to your Settings, look for the Privacy setting that reads something like “Who can see your connections”, and choose “Only you” in the drop-down.

But this is not a complete fix. You’ll note LinkedIn’s caveat in that section, “People will still be able to see connections who endorse you and connections they share with you. (Don’t want your endorsements visible? Just choose to opt out)”.

More About LinkedIn and Executive Job Search

Are You Executive Job Search-Ready?

Deadly LinkedIn Mistake: Forgetting LinkedIn Groups

Essential Checklist to Optimize LinkedIn For Executive Job Search

4 LinkedIn Ways to Keep Your Personal Brand Top of Mind

How to Write a Dazzling LinkedIn Summary

How to Customize LinkedIn Invitations to Connect

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