While I’m all about increasing your online visibility during your job search, privacy and security are still legitimate concerns when you’re currently employed – and this includes LinkedIn. And it’s important to understand the options you have when it comes to controlling what information is available to the general public, and your connections, on LinkedIn, to protect your reputation and your employment.
I get asked about LinkedIn’s privacy settings a lot – who you can block, who you can allow, what information you can make visible and to whom. The fact that LinkedIn is continually evolving is a great asset to its community, but often comes at the expense of truly understanding how to get the most of the platform while maintaining the necessary levels of privacy and visibility.
Here is everything you need to know about LinkedIn’s privacy policies and settings, adapted from multiple resources in the LinkedIn Help section:
Who Can View You?
- Your profile is visible to LinkedIn members who are signed in to LinkedIn.com. If your contact settings allow InMail messages, Premium account holders may also be able to see your full name and full profile. You can still block these individual members, regardless of their status.
- Third-degree connections and fellow group members with free (non-premium) accounts will only see your first name, last initial, and the top section of your profile when searching by keyword.
- However, if any member searches by your first and last name, they can see your full profile unless you have blocked them.
- Anyone whom you block will have no access to your profile, and your profile and all information will not be visible to them.
What Other Information Can You Control?
- You CAN control whether your connections see the updates you make to your profile, but turning on/off your activity broadcasts. This function also controls whether your connections can view the companies you follow, your connections, and any other activity or postings to your timeline.
- You CAN control whether people see your name, photo, or headline when you look at their profile. You can choose to display as yourself, or as an anonymous LinkedIn user.
- You CAN control whether your first degree connections see your other connections. You can also make them visible only to you.
- You CAN control whether your photo is visible to everyone on LinkedIn, or only your first-degree connections or network.
- You CAN dictate what kinds of invitations and messages other members can send you, including group invites.
- You CAN change your profile display name to non-first degree connections, so that they only see your first name and first letter of your last name. You must first turn off your public profile to do so, and your first-degree connections always see your full name, regardless of your settings.
- Only first-degree connections and people you have messaged before who have added you to their LinkedIn contacts can see your email address.
Blocking Individual Members
- You CAN block individual members, whether you are connected or not, by selecting the Block or Report option on their profile page. When you do this, they won’t be able to access your profile, message you, view you in the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile Section”, and any existing connection, endorsement, or recommendation linked to this person will no longer be available. You will be able to unblock them, and LinkedIn does not alert them that they are blocked.
- As of right now, you can only block individuals directly, and not groups or individuals based on company name or other group-based criteria (I’ve contacted LinkedIn about making this an available feature, but no progress as of yet).
- Blocking is mutual for you and the other person – you will no longer have access to their profile as well.
- Blocking DOES NOT apply to information that you have made public, such as content posted in open group discussions, public shares, and comments on influencer posts. Review your Public Profile Settings to determine what information you are currently making public.
- If you have a mutual connection with the blocked person, that mutual connection may still re-share content from you, visible to the blocked party.
- You CANNOT block anonymous viewers of your profile.
- You CANNOT block someone who is the manager of a group of which you are a part of. You will need to leave the group first, and then opt to block the person. If you manage the group and you’d like to block a member, you must first remove them from the group.
- Cached data from a mobile device or third-party application using LinkedIn’s API may still allow your cached information to be viewed, but not updates.
- Blocking DOES NOT apply to LinkedIn Pulse.
Outside of the above settings, you should also pay attention to the content and tone that you use in your profile. If your goal is to keep the fact that you’re searching confidential, avoid using languages that suggests or positions you as a job seeker.
Focus instead on creating and leveraging your profile as a tool for promoting your personal brand – creating an online persona that’s not based around what you’re looking to do, but around the skills, strengths, and expertise that you bring to the table, both in your current and future roles. Highlight skills and strengths, utilize the right kinds of keywords, create a compelling summary statement that functions as a miniature bio.
Your profile can serve as an introduction to who you are without coming off like a sales pitch. The idea is to create an interesting high-level overview of who you are, and compel potential hiring managers, connections, and industry peers to start a conversation with you. Once you’ve made an initial connection, how you conduct the “I’m looking for XYZ is up to you.”
For more information on LinkedIn’s privacy policies, including step-by-step directions for any of the options above, visit LinkedIn’s Help Center: https://help.linkedin.com/app/home