A feature added to LinkedIn may harm users’ job prospects by alerting their current employers when they are revamping their online résumé, or by broadcasting that they’ve landed a new job when, in fact, they are out of work.
In an effort to increase interactivity and social recognition, LinkedIn automatically notifies users’ entire networks when they change their job title or profile unless they adjust their settings. Further, LinkedIn makes the assumption the person has snagged a promotion or new job, says as much and prompts people to congratulate the achievement. “It’s basically like a suggestion engine to encourage you to reach out to your contacts,” says independent LinkedIn consultant Dan Sherman, adding that birthdays and work anniversaries are similarly broadcast to newsfeeds.
But congratulations are not always in order. That’s when things get awkward – or worse.
Simply by rewording their profile, users may unwittingly trigger an auto-generated newsfeed update with a “say congrats” button. So folks receive congratulatory notes when they have not made a career move, or when they update their profile because they are out of work, Sherman says.
Donna Sapolin received a barrage of congratulatory notes after she left an editing job and updated her LinkedIn profile to convey more clearly what she can offer prospective employers. “Little did I know that this small change would sabotage my job hunting efforts” by generating a new job announcement, Sapolin wrote in a “Next Avenue” article.
A headhunter confirmed “how ‘bad’ this was for me, given that I am actually looking for work and don’t want potential employers to think I’ve landed something,” she wrote.
In addition, jobseekers want their connections to be on the lookout for opportunities, and the “say congrats” prompt may put an end to their vigilance.
For those who are looking to change companies, profile updates may be a tip-off to current employers that they’re gearing up for a job search, Sherman says.
To prevent auto-generated announcements, LinkedIn users can turn off “activity broadcasts” and select who can see their activity feed under Privacy & Settings.
Not only do “new job” and “say congrats” posts potentially undermine jobseekers’ efforts, but they may also reveal unprofessional traits in well-wishers. “In order for these kinds of interactions to provide value, in order to prevent yourself from looking stupid, rubbing salt in a fresh wound, or otherwise committing a social faux pas, you have to PAY ATTENTION,” writes independent SharePoint consultant Jim Adcock on his “Working It Out” blog. “You need to be aware of where the people in your network are, and check to see whether the change is something to congratulate them on, or to ask them how you can help.”
Sherman advises folks who are in between jobs to use keywords in their profile indicative of the type of the position they want so prospective employers can find them. With a thoughtfully worded job title in place, “Add ‘contract position’ after it in parentheses so people will know you’re available and open for full-time work,” he adds.
LinkedIn now allows users to upload files or embed links in their profiles, “so consider adding a PowerPoint presentation or a YouTube video résumé making your case that you’re the best candidate and giving recruiters and hiring managers a fuller representation and proof of what you have to offer,” Sherman advises.
These and other tips are available in the revised edition of Sherman’s book, “Maximum Success with LinkedIn,” due out this spring from McGraw-Hill.
For more information: Westhill Consulting & Employment | BLOG