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How to Secretly Use LinkedIn

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Wild flurries of LinkedIn activities have resulted in premature pink slips. If your boss or colleagues see signs that you are job hunting such as connecting with recruiters, updating your profile after you got that year-end bonus, or that you are following a slew of companies then your current situation can be compromised. Yet, your professional relationships are on LinkedIn and you can't disconnect from your bosses and colleagues because those are signs too.

So how can you use LinkedIn to facilitate a transition without raising red flags that you are job hunting?

That was the number one question asked during a LinkedIn Q&A call I hosted for Ivy Oasis, a LinkedIn networking group for Ivy League Alumni. My answer is that yes you can...by hiding your activity, concealing who you are, and using my workaround to inform everyone except your boss (and potential snitches) that you want a new job.

How to hide your activity - Simply turn off your LinkedIn activity broadcasts. An activity broadcast is triggered when you connect with folks, update your profile, or follow companies. Go to your name on the upper right hand corner of your profile > Select settings > Choose "turn on/off your activity broadcasts" and turn that puppy off! Beware, if you update your photo, join a group, or add an application to your profile then these activities cannot be hidden -- in these instances apply changes slowly (maybe weeks apart) so that they are not obvious. Another idea is to select who can see your activity feed on your profile page; to use this feature select "only you" within the same settings page mentioned above.

How to conceal who you are - Hiding your identity makes sense when you want to view profiles without drawing attention to yourself. Use this feature when you wish to see your boss and colleagues' profiles for inspiration to update your own -- as I suggest to my clients and allude to in my blog about résumés. In this case, go to your name on the upper right hand corner of your profile > Select "settings" > Choose "select what others see when you've viewed their profile" and go anonymous. However, if you want to generate interest from recruiters or prospective employers then don't be anonymous -- let them know that you were researching them. This is a great way to get potential employers to read about you because you looked at them.

Check out Exhibit A to find this Settings>Privacy Control page where you can hide your activity and conceal your identity.

How to tell everyone except your boss and potential rats that you want a new job - Export your LinkedIn contacts to excel, edit that CSV file (i.e. remove your boss/colleagues/anyone that will rat you out), and then email the list your resume, cover letter, and elevator pitch. Go to Contacts > Connections and then on the lower-right hand corner >Select Export Connections: Check out Exhibit B. Use this functionality sparingly and strategically.

What are some other dirty little secrets that have worked for you...I mean your friends?