Before you log in, panic-stricken, to change the controls on your Profile, read this first!
LinkedIn settings—and the visibility associated with them—not only change often, but are regularly misunderstood, as shown by these 3 common myths:
1 – The Contact Settings Giveaway.
Some months back, before LinkedIn’s massive 2012 changes, it was possible for other users to see what types of contacts you were willing to receive.
These options, called Opportunity Preferences, are still available from the Contact Settings (select Settings and go to “Email Preferences,” then “Select the types of messages you’re willing to receive”).
Here, you’ll see Opportunities (“Career opportunities,” “Expertise requests,” “Consulting offers,” and so on).
While it used to be advised to carefully select options other than “Career opportunities,” this no longer applies. LinkedIn now hides your Opportunity Preferences on your Profile, and they are only used to filter you in group searches.
Even if other users go to the trouble of an Advanced Search and look at the sidebar filter category called “Interested In,” they’ll see an entirely different naming convention, making it difficult (if not impossible) to detect what you specified.
In other words, no one will realize what you’ve checked here, so there’s no need to worry about revealing your intentions.
2 – The Wide-Open Connections List.
LinkedIn has (surprise) slipped in various iterations of your Profile Settings over time, without announcing changes or making it obvious how they affect you.
One of the more significant modifications from the past several years is that your Connections list will never be visible to others outside your network—even though showing them to “Everyone” was an option in the past.
To explain more fully, within your Profile Settings and Privacy Controls subgroup, the “Select who can see your connections” option now allows just “Your Connections” or “Only You” to view your contacts.
So, if you fear being found out by your colleagues or boss, relax!
You can either adjust this part of your Privacy options to “Only You,” which will ensure complete confidentiality for your networking efforts, or simply maintain a LinkedIn network free of insiders at your current employer.
3 – The Locked-Down Profile.
A myth perpetuated by hopeful job seekers who want to update their Profiles on the sly, the theory of a “private” LinkedIn Profile has been floating around in some form for a while.
While you can hold certain pieces of information close to the vest (perhaps specifying a last initial vs. your full last name, which is an option in Privacy Settings), once you’ve created a LinkedIn Profile, it’s out there for the world to see.
You can, of course, set your Public Profile so that it isn’t displayed in search engine results, but this is ONLY the link to your account that is shown (outside of LinkedIn).
Therefore, it has no correlation to what happens inside the site, where your Profile is 100% visible to anyone logged into LinkedIn.
While this means your boss and colleagues can certainly see your Profile, it also means they must have a Profile to see YOU.
In other words, you’re less likely to be questioned about your presence on the site by someone who is also a LinkedIn user!
In summary, take some time to browse your LinkedIn Settings (and perhaps even its Help Center), before worrying about the potential of an “open” job search.
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– Laura Smith-Proulx, CCMC, CPRW, CPBA, TCCS, COPNS, CIC