LinkedIn & Your Confidential Job Search

Heads up, confidential job seekers! Your search might have become a lot less confidential than you thought, if you unintentionally selected having a “Job Seeker Badge” (briefcase icon) as part of your LinkedIn profile.

What is a Job Seeker Badge?

According to LinkedIn’s Help feature, here’s the basic answer:

How do I show that I am looking for a job?
A Job Seeker Badge (briefcase) can be displayed next to your name on your profile and in search results and helps you get noticed by hiring managers. Once you have a Job Seeker Premium account, the Job Seeker badge can be turned on and off from the Premium Badge section of your Settings page.
If you don’t see the Premium Badge section, click Show more items under the InMails and Introductions sections.
Your connections will be notified of changes to your badge settings.

Who Needs the Job Seeker Badge?

Frankly, I’m not sure anyone does. Maybe I’m overly skeptical, but it sounds to me more like something LinkedIn has added to suggest value that no one was actually looking for. Certainly if you’re conducting a confidential job search, one of the last things you would ever want to do is to advertise that fact in your LinkedIn profile. That’s especially true since adding the Job Seeker Badge to your profile will be announced to all your contacts, some of whom might be co-workers at your current company. Of course, you could turn off your activity notification before adding the badge, but it would still show up on your profile if someone from your company paid a visit to the profile.

Even for a non-confidential job search, I question the value of this feature. To me, it smacks of something like this: “Hey, Mr./Ms. Employer, I’m kind of desperate here and wanted to let you know that I’m available.” If you have a strong LinkedIn profile, tailored to present your value to potential employers when they find you online, that should be sufficient. Whether or not you specifically indicate that you’re open to new opportunities, those employers will probably check you out anyway.

Caution in a Confidential Job Search

As I’ve said before, it’s nearly impossible to assure yourself of a totally confidential job search, given the amount of information and methods of access to it that exist in today’s electronically connected world. The best you can probably hope to do is to exercise caution and make prudent choices about what you publish, where you publish it and who you grant direct access to it.

Also, with specific regard to LinkedIn profiles, I always recommend treating it as an ongoing part of maintaining a healthy online presence and not trying too hard to keep your employer from knowing that you have such a presence. If the company knows all along that you have a robust profile and you turn off your activity notification when you make a sensitive adjustment to it, I think you’ve done the best you can to safeguard your situation.

3 Comments on “LinkedIn & Your Confidential Job Search”

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