LinkedIn's news feed can a feel a little bit like Venmo's transaction history: It's scarily easy to draw unspoken conclusions about what someone is up to based on their activity. In the case of Venmo, this might mean learning about an ex's new relationship or a friend's upcoming vacation plans. For LinkedIn, on the other hand, you can easily look at profile updates to guess when someone is starting to look for a new job.
This can be harmless — after all, not everyone spends time looking at their LinkedIn feed or reading between the lines. But it could also arouse suspicions among your current coworkers and bosses, and lead to some uncomfortable conversations.
Here's what to do to stay under the radar if you are preparing your LinkedIn profile for a job hunt, and how to handle the discussion if your current boss or coworkers confront you about the updates.
Turn Off Notifications
Whenever you update a section of your profile (tap the pencil icon to do so), you'll see a toggle towards the bottom of the page. If it is on, those changes you just made can be shared with your network. Toggle to "off" to ensure they aren't blasted out.
You can also do this by tapping "Me" (on the upper toolbar) > Privacy > Sharing Profile Edits.
If Approached By Your Boss, Be Confident
While job hunting is one reason someone might update their profile, there are many other legitimate reasons as well. "Having an updated profile is vital to represent your company well working on projects, meeting new people in the industry, or attending conferences," Joy Lin, a career coach and founder of Quarter Life Joy, says.
You can easily spin the updates to your own profile as an asset for your current company, since others who are thinking about applying often look at employee profiles to find out more (you might have done this yourself when looking at job openings).
"If your boss or someone else asks about your updates, simply say, 'Thank you for noticing! I wanted to update my LinkedIn because I know it's important to have a polished social profile, especially as I work with more people in our projects and teams,'" Lin suggests.
Take A Proactive Approach & Reach Out To Recruiters
LinkedIn recently added a feature that allows job hunters to let recruiters know you're open to opportunities. To turn this tool on, tap "Me" > Privacy > Job Seeking Preferences. According to the site, this will help your profile appear in recruiter searches. However, LinkedIn also notes that "we take steps not to show your current company that you’re open, but can’t guarantee complete privacy."
If this feels too dicey to you, Lin suggests updating your profile headline and skills with keywords that appear in the descriptions of jobs you're interested in applying for. But don't rely on recruiters finding you.
"The best way, of course, is to actively reach out directly to recruiters or hiring managers to discuss open opportunities," Lin says.