Executive LinkedIn profiles are not private

There’s a misconception I hear from executives sometimes. They tell me, “I have my LinkedIn profile ‘set to private’ for now,” and they explain it’s so their boss won’t see it, or so nobody will see it until it’s perfectly worded.

Another one I’ve heard is “I don’t want my boss to know I’m on LinkedIn, so I haven’t connected with him.”

If we’re on the phone, they won’t see my exasperated facepalm. It’s frustrating to hear the same misconceptions repeated by different people year after year.

The not-so-private setting

Contrary to what you might believe, LinkedIn does not (as of now) have a blanket setting that hides your profile from the view of other LinkedIn users.

There is, however, an often-misunderstood setting—the Public Profile Setting—that some users mistakenly believe can hide their profile from the view of anyone on LinkedIn.

The Public Profile Setting allows you to adjust what people OFF of LinkedIn can see (people who don’t use LinkedIn at all, or people who aren’t logged in). It also controls whether search engines can index your profile.

However, LinkedIn users logged into their accounts can still view your profile regardless of what you do with the Public Profile Setting.

The usual limitations still apply—for example, LinkedIn tends to restrict the ability of free accounts to view profiles of users that are outside their network (beyond three degrees of separation).

In general, though, other LinkedIn users can usually view your profile even if you haven’t added them as a connection. Not only that, but LinkedIn might also suggest you as a connection for them. Let me explain how this works.

How LinkedIn shows your profile to users you might know

  • If you have listed your employer on LinkedIn correctly, LinkedIn’s algorithm will automatically start showing your photo and name to other employees at your company under the “People You May Know” suggestions within their LinkedIn accounts. They will be able to click onto your account if they want to look at it.
  • If you have any first-degree connections on LinkedIn who work at your company or run in the same circles in your industry (such as professional associations and conferences), there’s a chance they’re also connected with your boss or other co-workers of yours, which would then make those people second-degree for you (two degrees of separation). LinkedIn’s algorithm suggests second-degree users under “People You May Know,” so this is another case where you’ll be popping up in their accounts.
  • If you used your company email address or a personal email address that any of your professional contacts, boss, or co-workers might have in their email address books, LinkedIn will suggest you as a connection to them if they ever synced their email address book with LinkedIn (LinkedIn constantly hounds users to do this, so many people have done this, including those who are not tech-savvy). A similar feature does essentially the same thing with your phone number. Both of these can be adjusted in your LinkedIn settings, but doing so could cause you to miss out on connection opportunities you might have wanted.

Blocking your boss?!

Some of the folks I’ve spoken with are savvy enough to know that any LinkedIn user can potentially view their profile, so they take things a step further and actually block their boss or co-workers who they’re trying to hide from on LinkedIn.

The blocking feature on LinkedIn is similar to the blocking feature on Facebook. If someone is harassing you, you can block them. If you had a nasty breakup or divorce, you can block your ex. If you have a stalker who threatens your safety, by all means block them.

You can block whomever you want, so some would say why not just block your boss and anyone else if you don’t want them to see your LinkedIn profile and activity?

I’ll address the rationale for transparency later, but first, let me point out that blocking cannot guarantee the person never sees your profile—only that they won’t see it through the account you blocked.

Let’s say your boss goes home, realizes he forgot his laptop at the office, and checks his email on his wife’s computer that evening. Someone sent him a link to an article on LinkedIn, so he clicks the link to read it. His wife’s browser keeps her logged into LinkedIn, so he’s viewing it in her account.

His wife has added several of your co-workers on LinkedIn—she met them at the office Christmas party and wanted to connect with them because she’s a Realtor.

If any of those people are first-degree connections of yours on LinkedIn, guess what? You might pop up as a second-degree “People You May Know” recommended connection, and now your boss sees you (through his wife’s account)—and wonders why you haven’t connected with him.

Or, perhaps your boss bumps into someone at the coffee machine or water cooler on a Monday afternoon and they happen to mention that they just loved the great blurb you posted on LinkedIn last week.

Your boss then realizes he’s never seen you on LinkedIn and tries searching for you. When you don’t come up at all, he surmises that you must have blocked him and becomes suspicious about what you’re trying to hide. Busted!

The bottom line

You’re not private on LinkedIn. If you want to harness the benefits of using LinkedIn, it’ll be hard to do that without making yourself visible.

To truly be incognito on LinkedIn, you would need to use a fake name, not list your employer name, not connect with anyone, and use a unique email address for LinkedIn only—but what would be the point?

You should assume that anyone with internet access can potentially view your profile. This shouldn’t be a problem if you only share content on LinkedIn that you’re comfortable with anyone reading.

LinkedIn is no longer considered a “job hunting website.” Technically, it was never just about that, anyway—but now it’s more robust than ever, with opportunities for companies to market themselves, avenues for networking and sales, and thousands of LinkedIn Learning videos on diverse topics.

You can share news about your company on LinkedIn and even share kudos for your team members and co-workers. Your boss just might appreciate your loyalty to the company when he or she sees all of that!


This article first appeared on https://KellyDonovan.com


Posting on LinkedIn is a good way to maintain “top-of-mind awareness” with your professional contacts. It also provides evidence that your profile is current when recruiters and others view it. The WHY of LinkedIn posting is fairly clear, but WHAT to post is a bit more complex. Here are the five types of posts I recommend including in your repertoire.

1) Share your perspective on an article related to your career field or industry.

This is easy; you don’t have to go to the effort of writing an entire article yourself.

Instead, if you find an article of interest in an online trade publication for your profession or industry, you can share the article on LinkedIn and write 3-5 paragraphs with your reaction to it. Did the author miss an angle? Is it spot on? Do you disagree with points the article makes?

You could close your post by asking others for their thoughts on the premise of the article or the aspect you discussed in your paragraphs.

What not to do: Don’t be that guy who shares an article without saying anything about it, or who just says “Good read” or “Interesting article.” If you have no insight of your own, don’t bother. People care about what YOU have to say, which is why they’re connected with you on LinkedIn.

2) Show your gratitude and appreciation for others.

This is the kind of post that shows you’re not someone who’s just trying to promote yourself on LinkedIn.

Instead of talking about yourself, create a post that mentions other people you want to recognize. When mentioning someone, tag them by typing the @ followed by their name.

Here are some ways you can showcase others in a post:

  • Welcome a new team member to the team you lead. Say how excited you are to have this talented leader or professional joining your team. Mention what their new role is and briefly describe why they’re a rock star. The person will probably be flattered, but it’s probably best to run it by them first (“You don’t mind if I announce your hire on LinkedIn, do you?”).
  • Thank all of your team members or specific team members for doing a great job on a project, a product launch, a successful event, an award received, the quarter that just ended, the year that just ended, or whatever else is relevant. Make sure you’re not revealing anything your employer might want to keep confidential.
  • Congratulate someone on an award they’ve received if they’ve been too shy to post about it. Similarly, if you’ve recently received an honor or award along with others in your company or industry, you could mention them in your post. “I’m so honored and humbled to be recognized in the Acme Company All-Star Awards alongside Jon Smith and Jane Jones…”
  • Thank someone for helping in you some way. Do you want to recognize your mentor, or someone who always goes above and beyond? If you’re active in a professional association, maybe you want to thank the hard-working volunteers and board members who make all the events a success.

3) Be a cheerleader for your company and share their news.

If your employer is posting company news on LinkedIn, it doesn’t get much easier. Just share their post and say something about it. The more it pertains to the work you do, the better. If you’re in the C-suite, this is a no-brainer.

Showcasing your company through some of your posts is a way to combat the perception of LinkedIn activity being about job-hunting.

Needless to say, make sure anything you’re saying won’t get you in trouble (no confidential information).

4) Turn your post into a mini-article.

Did you know that you can use up to 3,000 characters (about 500 or so words) in a LinkedIn post?

That’s plenty of space for a short article to showcase pretty much anything you’d like to write about, such as:

  • Lessons about leadership you’ve learned in your career.
  • The formula you’ve developed for achieving favorable business results.
  • Your perspective on a trend in your industry.
  • Your reaction to a business book or biography you’ve recently read.

If you see others posting entire articles using the “publish” feature on LinkedIn, don’t think you need to follow their example.

A thoughtful post will get more attention than an article with precisely the same content word-for-word—the post will get more eyeballs, more love from the algorithm, and more engagement from other users.

The reason is quite simple: people are in a hurry and they don’t want to click through to read an article; it seems like it will take too long. But if they can stay on the same page and simply click “see more” to read your full post, that’s quick and easy, and then they can go about the rest of their day.

5) Talk about your latest activity or piece of news.

Your LinkedIn connections are interested in what you’re up to, so don’t leave them in the dark. Let them know about the interesting things happening in your professional life!

  • Attending a conference? Post a picture of yourself at the conference and mention some of the great insights you gained. You can even tag some of the speakers to praise them for the wisdom they shared.
  • Received an award? Time for a humble brag. Perhaps tag and thank the judges or whoever nominated you, or congratulate the other honorees by tagging them.
  • Mentioned in the media? Share a link to the article and thank (and tag) the journalist who wrote the article. You could share more of your perspective on the topic beyond your quotes in the article, which probably represent just a fraction of what you said in the interview.
  • Earned a certification? Humble brag time. Post a picture of yourself holding the certificate and talk about what you learned from the certification process. Perhaps tag anyone else who did the certification with you, or thank and tag your instructor.

Extra credit: this tip is for nerds only!

Here’s a pro tip only for those of you who care about maximizing performance of your posts (don’t worry about this if you’re just getting started with LinkedIn).

LinkedIn’s algorithm doesn’t favor external links since they prefer to keep people on their platform for as long as possible—pretty much the M.O. of every social media platform!

Here’s an end-run around this for when you want to link to an article you’re talking about:

  1. Instead of putting the link to the article in your post, simply do your post and mention in it that you’ll include the link to the full article in the comments below.
  2. Make a comment on your own post (in the comments section) with the link.
  3. Voila! Your post will get more eyeballs than it would otherwise.


This article first appeared on KellyDonovan.com


Your new executive resume is done, and it’s a masterpiece. I can understand wanting to unleash the power of this resume, but please do yourself a favor and don’t upload it to your LinkedIn profile.

To be clear: what I’m talking about has nothing to do with your LinkedIn profile writing (job descriptions, About section, etc.). You should absolutely have your profile complete and filled with compelling information.

What I advise against is uploading a PDF of your resume. After all, if the profile has good content, why would you need the resume on there?

Here are the biggest problems with uploading your resume.

Sensitive information

Your resume might contain information that was never intended to be publicized in such a public venue.

For example, if a confidential number was $12.3M, on the resume we might say “in excess of $10M” or “8-figure” to convey scope without giving away too much. On LinkedIn, that much might be revealing too much, so it might be better to say “multi-million-dollar” or not even quantify it. If you upload your resume, the cat is out of the bag!

If your LinkedIn content has been carefully “sanitized” to omit information from the resume that might be too sensitive for LinkedIn, why would you then upload the resume and negate those efforts to sanitize it?

Once I’ve written an executive resume, my next step is to write the content for the LinkedIn profile (I’m also a LinkedIn profile writer and do this for 99% of my clients). Usually this involves job descriptions that are more condensed and sanitized than the resume content.

Not knowing how it will be used

If you’re on a boat and pour a drop of your drink into the ocean, can you get it back? Of course not!

Putting a document on the Internet can best be compared to that drop of liquid going into the ocean. Good luck stopping it from going wherever the current takes it.

First of all, understand that documents on your profile can be viewed by anyone who can view your profile, which might as well be everyone on the planet.  Now, consider the following:

  • What if an unscrupulous recruiter submits it for a job without even contacting you? That could stymie your job search; if you subsequently apply for a job at that company, the company might choose not to even interview you because they know you were first presented by a recruiter and therefore would need to pay the commission. (And you’d never even know this happened–the employer isn’t going to send you a rejection letter with this as the reason.)
  • What if someone else in your industry plagiarizes your resume content? This could lead to an employer thinking YOU were the plagiarist!
  • What if an an executive you know or someone who heard about you was considering you for an opportunity and then rules you out after seeing the resume? You have no opportunity to tailor it for the opportunity in question when you don’t even know you’re being considered.
How it looks

Think for a minute what conclusions people might draw when they see that your resume is on there.

  • If you’re employed and don’t want your boss and co-workers to know you’re job-hunting, don’t you think it will look suspicious?
  • Do you want everyone who sees the profile to know you’re in an active job search?

Just wait…

Resist the temptation. Wait until someone asks for the resume. Your LinkedIn profile in all its glory should be compelling enough to pique someone’s interest, and should cast a wide enough net to catch any fish you might want. Once you’ve got them in the net, at some point they’ll ask for your resume. And THEN you can go for it!


This advice doesn’t have anything to do with a new LinkedIn feature that allows you to store your resume within your account privately so that you have it handy when applying for jobs through LinkedIn. If nobody can see it except employers you’re applying with, that’s fine.

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

Job search networking by phone (businessman talking on phone)

Building relationships does NOT have to take place in person. This has always been the case, and it’s especially true now that remote work has become more common and executives have embraced digital tools more than ever.

However, many executives still associate the word “networking” with face-to-face interactions. I often hesitate to use that word, but often fall back on it out of laziness and habit.

I once mentioned networking to a prospective client. He sounded surprised. “Do you really think it would be worth my while to attend mixers after work?” he asked. I was blown away–I hadn’t said anything about attending any type of event! But, he had a preconceived notion about what “networking” means.

In my mind, “networking” is simply a synonym for leveraging business relationships: establishing relationships, building relationships, nurturing relationships, rekindling relationships, and ultimately leveraging them to achieve your career or business goals.

Looking at it from that standpoint, there are a lot of ways you can leverage relationships (aka “network”) without being face-to-face with people. Here are what I consider the top five.

  1. Arrange phone calls with new and existing contacts. Come up with a reason for the call–such as setting up a short call to gather information or catch up. If you can specify “5-10 minutes” or “10-15 minutes” (depending on how well you know them), that will make it easier for someone to say “yes” to a call since it doesn’t seem like it will be a big disruption.
  2. Exchange email and LinkedIn messages with new and existing contacts. This can be a great way to stay in touch after a phone call or to rekindle an existing relationship rather than asking for a phone call out of the blue.
  3. Post and comment on social media. Maintain an active presence on LinkedIn; “like” and comment on the things your connections post (be sure to keep it professional!). You can also leverage Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. A comment on LinkedIn isn’t going to land you a job, but similar to #2, this can be a way to stay in touch.
  4. Ask for introductions. The adage “who you know is more important than what you know” should really be “who you know and who your contacts know.” Your existing network might not be enough to land that dream job. Use LinkedIn to find out how you’re connected with companies of interest and ask your contacts for introductions to the people they know at those companies.
  5. Attend virtual events. There have already been virtual events for years, but now there are more than ever. This can include webinars, conference calls, Zoom meetings, and virtual conferences. Find out what the professional associations in your industry are doing to help people learn and stay connected.

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

About one-third of my clients come to me with LinkedIn profiles and resumes that don’t list all the job titles they’ve held at a particular company.

For example: John was hired as Sr. Director – Supply Chain Management at a $5B multi-national company. After only 4 months, he was promoted to VP – Supply Chain Management.

In the example above, I’ve discovered that A LOT of people will simply list VP – Supply Chain Management on their resume and LinkedIn rather than listing both titles. Or they have both on the resume, but only VP on LinkedIn.

Sometimes the inclination to do this is simplicity–not wanting to clutter things up. Sometimes it’s a concern about perception–not wanting anything to mar your status as an exec.

Whatever the rationale, not including the original title poses a problem when a prospective employer goes through the vetting process. Employers have become much more vigilant about employment verification and background checks in recent years.

Any discrepancy between the title on your documents and what they get from HR (and any other sources) could be disqualifying. It’s seen as dishonest. Likewise, any discrepancy between the resume and LinkedIn is a deal-killer for some companies and recruiters.

What I recommend

If the first job was a short duration and then you were promoted, and the two jobs have substantially similar duties, it makes sense to combine them into a single description–but the initial job title must be acknowledged.

On LinkedIn you would put:

Job title field: Vice President – Supply Chain Management

Job description: (Promoted from Sr. Director after first 4 months.) And then your description of the job goes right here…

On your resume you have a couple options:

Acme Company
Vice President – Supply Chain Management (Month 20XX to Present)
Sr. Director – Supply Chain Management (Month 20XX to Month 20XX)

And then your description of the job goes right here…

Acme Company
Vice President – Supply Chain Management (Month 20XX to Present)

(Promoted from Sr. Director after first 4 months.) And then your description of the job goes right here…

Either of the above examples would be acceptable to most decision-makers and gatekeepers. The second example is more ATS-friendly if you’re applying online.

If you’re like most of my clients, you might be a member of a half dozen or dozen LinkedIn groups.

I’d argue that you should join more than that, even if you don’t plan to participate in discussions in the groups.

Now that LinkedIn allows users to join up to 100 groups, why not join 20, 30, or 40 groups? Or more?

Here are the top 3 reasons you should consider doing this:

  1. The more groups you’re in the more visibility you’ll have on the platform. Not sure what I mean? Well, have you ever seen someone on LinkedIn where it just said “LinkedIn Member” and didn’t have the person’s name or photo? That happens when someone is out of your network (not a first, second, or third degree connection). And guess what? When they see you on LinkedIn, they’re seeing the same thing on their end. You’ve been reduced to a mere “LinkedIn Member” undeserving of a name. But, if you’re both members of a group, you’ll be able to see each other. This means you’ll show up properly in search results.
  2. As a group member, you have access to information, resources, and discussions related to your industry. If co-workers or your boss are suspicious about your LinkedIn activity, thinking you’re job-hunting, you’ve got an excuse! You can mention some of the things you’ve learned about from your LinkedIn groups, or simply weave into conversation that you’re doing a number of things to research trends, including reading trade pubs, attending industry events, and following LinkedIn group discussions.
  3. And finally, groups do have some intrinsic value…sometimes. While some are a waste of time, some of the discussions can be interesting and helpful. Just make sure your comments are professional; even if you think you’re in a closed, private group, that can change (and the past conversations can then come up in Google search results…such as when someone searches for your name on Google).

If any of that resonated, you might be wondering: which groups are the best to join?

LinkedIn groups I recommend joining include:

  • Groups related to your industry or profession. Don’t nit-pick; if you’re in procurement and you spot a logistics and supply chain group, I’d say that’s close enough. After all, some of the executives that could be your future boss might be in that group!
  • Alumni groups. Please bear in mind that this is different from simply following your alma mater on LinkedIn, which happens automatically when you list a degree from a university on your profile. That gives you the university’s updates, but not the benefit of being “connected” (in a sense) to all those other alumni.
  • Large general interest groups. These are good simply for the sheer volume of people in them. A good example is Harvard Business Review, which I joined many years ago (but I think their group might be full now).
  • Local groups for your local market or markets of interest. If you’re in Southern California, for example, there are LinkedIn groups for Orange County, Los Angeles, etc. Some of them also do off-line events where you can go and network with other group members in person.

Just keep in mind that you can adjust your email preferences for group emails so your inbox doesn’t get clogged with emails from LinkedIn groups as you start to join more of them.

Almost every client I work with is missing opportunities by not belonging to as many LinkedIn groups as they could. Remember: group membership is free, except in the rare cases where the group is created by a group that exists in the offline world and charges membership dues—in which case the membership might be restricted to their paying members. So take advantage of this (almost-always) free resource!

This article first appeared on www.KellyDonovan.com

LinkedIn’s major overhaul of the site took place in 2017, yet many users seem oblivious to the impact this is having on their profiles.

One of the biggest changes was minimizing the amount of text that displays for each of your jobs as well as the About section (formerly known as the Summary section).

  • Only the first three lines of the summary section display
  • Only the first eight lines of your current job display
  • Only the first four lines of each previous job display

After the lines that display, there’s a link that says “see more” that people can click if they want to read the rest.

The problem: why should I, the reader, bother to make the effort to click “see more” if those first three, four, or eight lines weren’t sufficiently interesting?


Don’t let a company description hog your most valuable real estate

A common resume tactic is to include a short description of each company you’ve worked for. I do this on most resumes I write, and it’s especially important if you’ve worked for companies that aren’t well known–or if you’re changing industries and the readers might not be as familiar with your past employers.

On a resume, the description of a company is often two lines long–sometimes even three if a lot of explanation is needed (mentioning a merger, for example). This works fine; I usually use italic font that is .5 pt smaller than the rest of the body font. This helps to convey that the information in question is distinct from the other text and being provided for context only.

However, starting a job with a company description will NOT be a good approach on LinkedIn. If it’s a past job where only four lines will display before the “see more” link, that would mean that the first few lines are describing your employer and then there might only be a single line visible describing your work and accomplishments there!

That’s not very much room to “sell” your value. We need to get someone interested in clicking “see more” to read the rest, and company descriptions aren’t terribly exciting. They’re included on the resume to provide context, but ultimately the profile is supposed to be about YOU.

You can still weave in a very brief description of the company (eg., “Fortune 1000 manufacturer”) into those first few lines. Rather than this being the very first thing, you can gracefully incorporate it into the first sentence describing your work at the company.

Bear in mind that on LinkedIn, the company name and logo are clickable links to the company page (if the company has one and if you typed it in correctly so that the logo displays on your profile). The company page has information about the company, including its size, industry, and other details a recruiter or decision maker would appreciate.

Only a few visible lines at the start of the “About” section

The About section is the first thing a reader sees on your profile after the headline, head shot, and header graphic at the top. Now that only the first few lines display, it’s important to think about what the most critical things are for readers to know in case they don’t click “see more.” What would you want to be someone’s biggest takeaway? The top three takeaways?

You can also think about how to draw your reader in. Some advocate a creative storytelling approach to intrigue people. The potential downside is that if someone doesn’t read the rest, they might not grasp those key things you’d like them to know. Of course, it’s best to address those key things in the Experience section, too…but reinforcement is how you get people to remember something!

I like to strike a balance: get some key things in there that reinforce the messages and points we want to make, and do it in a way that’s informal, first-person, and conversational. That way it immediately shows that reader that you did NOT just copy and paste a boring resume summary filled with cliches. Unlike so many of the profiles on LinkedIn, you’re actually talking like a normal human being!

That being said, no two executives are the same, and out of every 30 or so LinkedIn profiles I write, I might do something a little different, like a very creative About section. It depends on the client’s career story and goals.

This article first appeared on KellyDonovan.com

From time to time, folks tell me they want to have two LinkedIn accounts.

Some of the reasons include:

  • “I don’t want my boss to know I’m job hunting, so I’ll have a separate account for job hunting!”
  • “I have a day job and a side hustle, so I need separate accounts for each.”
  • “I’m targeting jobs in marketing as well as jobs in HR, and have two separate resumes–so I need two LinkedIn profiles, too!”

Regardless of the situation, I always advise clients to use only one LinkedIn account.

Here are the top five reasons why I see two accounts as being problematic:

  1. If you’re going to get recommendations on both accounts, you’re potentially splitting that up, so rather than benefiting from four recommendations on your account, you might have two on Account #1 and the other two on Account #2. Or maybe four on Account #1 and zero on Account #2. Recommendations boost your credibility as well as the search optimization of your profile. You’ll get more bang for your buck with all of them on one profile.
  2. Someone searching LinkedIn for your name will probably see both accounts in search results, and it’ll be confusing. It might even make you seem shady.
  3. If you’re trying to hide something from someone, they’re still going to be able to see it. Sometimes people have the mistaken impression that if they don’t connect with their boss, their boss won’t be able to view their LinkedIn account–so they assume that they can have one account where they connect with their boss, and a separate account that their boss will never see (NOT true; if it’s on LinkedIn, assume that ANYONE can see it).
  4. You’ll be limiting how many connections you’ll have in each account–instead of 600 connections in one account, you might have 400 in Account #1 and 200 in Account #2, which means that neither profile will be as search-optimized as a single account with 600 connections. More connections means more visibility–with 600 connections, you’ll come up in search results more often than someone with 200 connections.
  5. It’s against LinkedIn’s user agreement to maintain more than one profile. It’s never a good idea to break the rules and risk being penalized! Similar to a driver’s license, a social media account is a privilege that can be revoked if they find you breaking the rules.

How to get by with one account

Hopefully you’re convinced to stick with one account; so now you might be wondering how to make one account work for you!

Keeping your job search secret

There are plenty of ways you can keep your job search private. Turn off the notifications that automatically go out when you update your profile. Don’t say anything on your profile that would imply that you’re job hunting.

You can also include some wording on your profile that promotes your current employer’s mission or goals, which can help imply that you’re actually on LinkedIn to help them out rather than look for a job!

Remember that there are plenty of reasons to be on LinkedIn other than job hunting, including keeping up on industry news and “buzz” through membership in industry groups on LinkedIn. Join these groups, follow news on the site, research potential clients, and be ready to share with your boss and co-workers the business value you’re getting from LinkedIn.

Highlighting your multiple interests or different “hats”

If you have two different job targets, it’ll be best if you identify one of them to focus your profile on, or find a way to highlight both of them in a cohesive manner. This is just one more reason it’s best to try being as focused as possible in your job search. The less job targets, the better.

It’s fine to keep your LinkedIn profile more broad if you have two similar versions of your resume for different job targets. Just make sure it’s not too “all over the place.”

If you have a day job and a side hustle, you can include both on your profile, and decide which will be your priority for LinkedIn. Ask yourself: is LinkedIn important for your day job? Is it a primary way you expect to gain customers for your side hustle? Remember that LinkedIn is geared toward businesspeople.

If your day job is enterprise software sales and your side hustle is selling kids’ T-shirts online, then platforms like Instagram or Pinterest might be more helpful for the T-shirt business, while LinkedIn would be more helpful for the enterprise software sales.

With a little effort, you can make a single LinkedIn profile work for you!

This article appeared first on KellyDonovan.com

OK, so you’ve applied for that shiny new job opening… now what? Sit and wait?

What has worked well for other clients of mine is a short, targeted followup, usually via LinkedIn or email. This is assuming that you don’t know someone at the company who’s going to help you out, which is the ideal situation.

Who should you contact?

If it’s a big company with in-house recruiters, I’d go that route and look for the most appropriate recruiter to contact (hint: if the job was posted on LinkedIn, look to see who posted the job on there!).

If it’s a smaller or mid-market company, I’d probably try to figure out who the likely hiring manager (eg., your potential future boss) is. If you’re applying to be the VP of Candlestick Making for North America, is there perhaps a COO you can find on LinkedIn? Or the SVP of Global Candlestick Making?

This does involve guesswork; you’ll have to be comfortable with this being an inexact science. Yes, you might send it to someone who isn’t the actual decision maker; he or she might pass it along to the decision maker, or ignore it.

However, the risk of not reaching out in the first place is that you will be ignored anyway, since research shows you have only ~3% chance of getting an interview by applying online (unless you listed one of their employees as a referral source when you applied or have someone you know at the company advocating for you).

Example of a LinkedIn note to your potential future boss or an internal recruiter:

Hello John,

I just applied for the VP of Candlestick Making position on your website, and just wanted to reach out personally to convey my excitement about the opportunity. I’ve slashed candlestick making costs by 15-22%, streamlined manufacturing processes, and pioneered new candle scents like the best-selling “Rustic Garage.” I would love to talk with you about the value I could bring to Acme Company; I look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,
Jane Doe
[email protected]

Notice how short and concise it is. We’re in the era of short attention spans, so don’t go longer. If you’re sending it on LinkedIn, the recipient can simply click through to your profile to read more about your qualifications. And if their interest is piqued, they’ll go fish out your application from the 150+ other applications in the system.

There’s no guarantee of getting an interview, but at least you’re not just sitting around waiting.

P.S.: If sending by LinkedIn, be sure to include your email address and phone number below your name so they have that handy.

This article first appeared on KellyDonovan.com

(From the archives – updated in 2019)

The Internet has been buzzing with news about a UK executive who is suing his former employer over a dispute involving his LinkedIn profile–news that may be alarming to many who use LinkedIn.

Based on the article about it on MailOnline, the gist is that BG Group dismissed John Flexman after viewing his LinkedIn profile and having concerns with it.

While this was an unfortunate situation, you can absolutely be active on LinkedIn without rubbing your employer the wrong way.

Here are some pointers (as always, consult with an attorney on legal issues pertaining to your particular situation).

1. Find out if your employer has a social media policy.

Many employers have adopted social media policies in recent years to manage the numerous issues that can arise from employees using sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Check to see if your employer has a social media policy or other rules that would pertain (hint: look at your employee manual). Be sure to read and understand all these policies and make sure you’re in compliance.

2. Don’t make it obvious you’re job hunting.

According to MailOnline, one of the company’s complaints was that Flexman was in breach of a new conflict-of-interest policy that bans employees from checking a check box on LinkedIn that indicates an interest in career opportunities.

That checkbox is a thing of the past, and nowadays (in 2019) LinkedIn has its feature to “let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities.” This, fortunately, is a bit more private–although it’s still possible your boss could find out if he talks to external recruiters.

At the very least you can avoid wording on your profile that makes it very obvious you’re looking for a job. Keep in mind that recruiters and employers LOVE so-called passive candidates, so appearing like you’re not job hunting shouldn’t hurt you.

3. Don’t include sensitive information pertaining to your employer.

Negative information

According to MailOnline, Flexman’s former employer was upset that he had included negative information about the company. This is a dilemma that sometimes arises in resume and LinkedIn profile writing–the need to show how much you improved a department, project, or company without sounding like you’re trashing the company.

You’ll impress employers by saying that you led a turnaround, but if you go into too much detail on all the problems that necessitated the turnaround, that could upset a lot of people at your company if they see that on LinkedIn.

Another issue is information that isn’t necessarily negative, but could damage customer relationships. For example, would the company want customers to see on an employee’s profile that he’d increased profits 25% by reducing costs on a product while simultaneously increasing the product’s price? This might be acceptable on a resume distributed selectively, but it’s not fit for the world to see, so it needs to stay off LinkedIn.

Proprietary information

As with the issue of negative information, the issue of proprietary information comes up all the time in resume and LinkedIn profile writing. We want to demonstrate accomplishments and the level of your responsibility, so including dollar amounts can be impressive. But it’s important to do that without revealing information your employer needs to keep confidential.

So, for example, instead of saying that you “managed a $16 million territory…” you might indicate that you “managed an eight-figure territory” to give a general idea of the scope without revealing proprietary data that competitors shouldn’t know.

When creating a LinkedIn profile for a client, I like to create a more concise and “sanitized” version of resume content since the LinkedIn profile will be visible to a broader audience.

Just remember that prospective employers could be turned off if they think you’re the type of employee or executive who can’t be trusted with confidential information.

The bottom line

There are always risks when it comes to employment, but I know that having an active LinkedIn presence would be a risk I would take as an employed job seeker. Just exercise caution in how you present yourself on the platform.


This article first appeared on KellyDonovan.com