It’s been a very awkward two days for me. You see, on Monday evening LinkedIn started telling my professional network of 500+ connections that I had a new job. I got that feeling of dread as I saw the “congratulations” notifications piling up in my inbox. Let’s be clear: I’ve been at the same job for 2 years now and nothing has changed. Well, except for some minor details on my LinkedIn profile. At the gentle recommendation of a mentor of mine, I’ve been updating my channels to reflect my current role and abilities. So shocking! Unfortunately, this update came at a price.
The Reveal: my new job
As you can see by the composite above, LinkedIn broadcasted to the world that I had a new job as a freelancer. In agency speak, this change meant that I’d either a) been fired or b) flown the coop. Neither of which are true, by the way.
What had actually changed? I tweaked the “title” of my freelance job to be a bit more SEO-friendly and also changed up my services to reflect the same. I also updated the listing to my blog so it acts more like a media kit. If you actually click through to my profile, you’ll see LinkedIn was touting a 5-year-old listing as “new”, one that has 5 recommendations that obviously didn’t appear overnight.
Unfortunately, the optics of this are not ideal – people often don’t click through to the updates and LinkedIn’s newly frequent emails tell an incomplete and inflammatory story. In less than two days, I received emails from two former bosses, someone at another agency I’m currently collaborating on a client project with and multiple recruiters/interested parties from rival agencies. I’ve also had a lot of concern from my coworkers about the change.
How to keep your LinkedIn activity a secret
Want to keep this from happening to you? LinkedIn will allow you to change your activity broadcast settings.
Unfortunately, this is a pretty blanket setting. If you un-check the box, your profile updates will go unnoticed. I’ve found that these kind of updates are the main drivers to getting people to your profile, meaning you’re probably giving up a lot of visibility should you choose to remove it. You’re also keeping your recommendations a secret – again, a point of visibility and community building you’d probably wish to share.
My two cents? I think LinkedIn should continue to share these kinds of updates but also make a distinction between a *new* job and simply updating your profile/editing a title. If anything, LinkedIn should be encouraging frequent updates instead of making users fearful of them. By broadcasting updates in this haphazard fashion, LinkedIn is negatively rewarding those who keep their profiles up-to-date. I’m not sure about you, but if I was a platform I’d want to encourage more, not less, community-building, click-gathering updates.
Consider this my little PSA for the day for those of you who are finding yourselves on LinkedIn more than usual (it’s getting to be a great source of information & conversation, no?) and are making sure your profiles are all up-to-date.
UPDATE: A week after deleting the “update”, I’m getting word that my “new job” has made LinkedIn’s special email round-up of connection activity. Sigh…