LinkedIn: Helpful Career Tool or Stalking Device?

LinkedIn

Unless you've been under a rock the past few years, you know about LinkedIn. It is a social networking site that is intended to be career oriented. Companies often look to LinkedIn to learn more about potential employees, as well as following up with current employees. If you are looking for a job, it seems like a great way to network. LinkedIn really does have its benefits, but it is not without some drawbacks.

Sure, it seems like a fun site since you can post a profile. You add some basics about where you work, work experience, and education. You can search for jobs, former co-workers, and future co-workers when you get a new job. Sounds great, doesn't it? And yes, in many ways it is great. But just consider this, when you are searching for colleagues on LinkedIn, they are doing the same for you. Whatever info you can find on your co-workers, they can usually find on you. Just a little something you should think about before you put too much information.

The LinkedIn Trap

I often read articles about the best way to apply for jobs. In these constantly changing times, it is considered a requirement to have a LinkedIn profile in the professional world now. What makes it worse, it is a major career boo-boo to have an outdated profile. I've also heard you are pretty much shooting yourself in the foot if you don't post a photo.

So basically, if you are actively looking for a job, you need to have an updated profile with a professional looking photo. Your profile also has to be searchable. So there you are, desperately searching for jobs and knowing recruiters are going to look for your profile on LinkedIn. How unfortunate for you if you are a private person. Sorry, but you are expected to throw your privacy out the window now if you want to get a new job.

A good LinkedIn profile should list your current employer, as well as some past employers. Your work experience needs to be listed. If you want to make sure you get a good job, you are probably going to list the schools you attended. You will be polishing off that profile with a nice photo. So this means, if you happen to have anyone that is looking for you (ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend, ex-spouse, creepy stalkers, collection agencies, etc.), you just gave them plenty of information to find you. Now everyone knows where you work; they can easily look up your company's name and pay you a visit. In fact, you've even given them your photo, so if some creep decides to stalk you, he or she can just sit out in the parking lot where you work and match your face to your photo. Perfect!

I Can See You!

Let me give you a little story. At one of my past jobs, we worked with professionals and collected dues payments from them periodically. Since people often changed jobs or never gave us employment information in the first place, it used to be hard to track down those that decided to no longer pay dues. But with LinkedIn, it became super easy to find anyone in the professional world. It was basically handed to us on a platter.

In no time, my co-workers and I determined LinkedIn was the easiest way to find anyone we needed. Yes, LinkedIn was a better stalking tool than Facebook, Google, MySpace, or any of those sites that promises to find you anyone in the U.S. I find it interesting that MySpace gained such a poor reputation because of all the supposed "inappropriate" activity on the site. Yet I never had to tell MySpace the name of my employer or even give it a real photo of myself. Hell, when I joined, you still did not even have to give a real last name. Try that on LinkedIn and see how far you get. No one found me on MySpace from my past; yet, I constantly have people from my past finding me on LinkedIn. Gee, thanks.

LinkedIn Can Help

Don't get me wrong, I realize many people have found jobs because of LinkedIn. Plenty of companies posts jobs on LinkedIn. I also realize plenty of recruiters scope out LinkedIn and approach people about jobs. LinkedIn is the perfect website for networking with others in your field. It is a nice way to keep in touch with co-workers so you can use them as references in the future. All of that is wonderful!

I am also happy to say LinkedIn does now have a blocking tool because they started to receive complaints about... well... stalking! You can now adjust your privacy settings on LinkedIn so you don't have to share all your information with just anybody. All of that sounds pretty nifty to me. My only issue is, if you are actively looking for a job, it is not in your best interest to keep your profile too private. So be careful what you share on LinkedIn!

LinkedIn My Way

If you are wondering if there is a "happy middle" for LinkedIn, I am happy to say I think I have found one. I have simply stopped taking advice from career articles that don't know a thing about me. I think some of the advice is just unrealistic. Depending on what field you are going into, I don't think you need to put all your information out there. If you work in marketing or social media, then yes, all your information and your photo probably needs to be in your profile. Chances are, you already have a website with all that information on it anyway.

With all that said, I don't think most of us need to post too much information. I took down my profile photo months ago. You see, I may not have the most popular name in the world, but there are a few ladies out there with my name. There are also a few people I would like to avoid for the rest of my life. So now, when someone searches for my name on LinkedIn, there is no face to go with the name anymore. Is this the right Jeannie? Well, maybe, but maybe not. I am not going to make it too easy for those that search for me.

Do potential employers expect to see my photo on my LinkedIn profile? Sure, they probably do. Are they going to hold it against me that my profile does not have a photo? I hope not. If they do use that against me, I probably don't want to work at that company anyway. Thanks, but no thanks.

As far as other information goes, I give enough, but not too much. A general description of past job duties is enough. I make sure to add enough information about past employers so an HR person can compare my resume to my LinkedIn profile. When the two add up, that should be enough. Do I receive any unsolicited emails now from recruiters about potential jobs? Nope. Is that OK? Sure. I never received any job notifications I was actually interested in before anyway.

In the end, I am sure I sound slightly paranoid about LinkedIn. It is OK because a little paranoia keeps a person alert and safer than the average person. I know people that are a little too trusting with the information they share online, and nothing good has come of it. So feel free to use LinkedIn however you'd like, just know that you don't have to fall into the LinkedIn trap like all the articles claim you do. The economy is not as bad as it once was, and you are allowed to share as much or as little as you want on LinkedIn.


Copyright ©2015 Jeannieinabottle

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Comments 16 comments

pgiblett profile image

pgiblett 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada

I found your comment about using LinkedIn as a stalking tool to be intriguing. I get a lot of mail from people who use LinkedIn this was. As an open networker I am always happy to connect with other people - but do have to use my thick-skin when receiving mails from those who have "stalked" me.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 20 months ago from Pacific Northwest

Not paranoid , cautious and discreet! Very helpful hub!


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 20 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

pgiblett, thanks for sharing your experience. I did try to focus on the positive aspects of LinkedIn, but I have also found some experiences to be negative on LinkedIn. Thankfully I receive less emails now that I've taken out a lot of information, but still, I am amazed at how many people still find me. I can imagine if you connect with a lot of people, you do have to get a thick-skin with some of the emails.

lambservant, thank you for your comment. Sometimes I wonder if I am too paranoid and it helps to get feedback from others.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 20 months ago from Planet Earth

Interesting things to consider here! I do know that recruiters use LinkedIn, big time. If you aren't on that site, it can almost be like you don't exist. I was glad when they implemented a way to block people - if there's someone we already know is stalking us, we don't need an added way for them to spy on our lives.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 20 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Marcy, yes, it is as if you don't exist if you are not on LinkedIn. I suppose that is what really annoys me about LinkedIn. It is not LinkedIn itself, but an assumption by many employers that you are required to be on the site if you want to have a job. I personally don't appreciate people from my past "checking up" with me, which is exactly what happens. Even creepier, sometimes LinkedIn tells you who has viewed your page and the results are not always comforting. Blocking people is great, but that is only if you know ahead of time who is looking for you... which is not always the case.

Thanks for checking out my hub and thanks for the comment.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA

The one thing I hate about LinkedIn is their "suggest" feature where they ask if you know this person. In several circumstances, yes I do know them and am specifically not connected because I used to work with them and passionately disliked them. I don't know how to make their faces permanently go away from my screen.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 20 months ago from Central Florida

Interesting article, Jeannie. In today's online world, LinkedIn is the suggested end-all-be-all social site. In reality, all of the social media sites leave a person exposed. I even get friend requests on FB from people I don't know and I've got my privacy settings set to friends only.

I have a complete profile on LI, including photo. I have yet to receive one job offer as the result of having an LI presence.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 20 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

FlourishAnyway, I don't like the "suggest" feature either. I am also not a fan that LinkedIn combs through all of the email addresses I have saved in whatever email I used to sign in. In many instances, I have people saved from long ago... some I do not even remember. Then LinkedIn makes assumptions from that and suggests more people I have no interest in. I would also like to figure out how to permanently delete those suggestions.

bravewarrior, you are very right. I have heard about others getting jobs from LinkedIn, but I personally never have. Every now and then, I used to get a spammy email from a sketchy company I would never respond to. Never once have I been offered a legit job based on LinkedIn. I did, however, get told at an interview once that they looked me up on LinkedIn out of curiosity. I am sure they were checking to see if my resume matched my profile. Funny thing is, I could easily lie on both. I don't see the point in having a LinkedIn account. Thanks for your comment!


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 20 months ago from American Southwest

I am not actively looking for a job, and my LinkedIn profile probably screams that, because I never put my photo up, and I listed my current job as human resources development for our family business (i.e. having and raising the kids!) So I occasionally get emails about businesses looking for HR people, which is funny because then I know they don't know who I really am!

I think of LinkedIn like a class reunion; I go there to find out what people I used to know eventually did with their lives, and assume that's why people look at my profile too.


drbj profile image

drbj 20 months ago from south Florida

You make a very valid point about not submitting TMI on LinkedIn or any social media site. The more personal info you submit on any of those sites, the more you expose yourself to scammers and other undesirables.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 20 months ago from Orlando, FL

I joined, I left, I rejoined because I received so many invites from friends...I just never filled out my bio. No interest in being linked in :)


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 20 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

aethelthryth, that sounds like the best LinkedIn profile of all. I use Facebook to reconnect with people from my past, so I am cool with not bothering with all that for LinkedIn. It is interesting that you use it that way. It makes me wonder how many former classmates are out there looking me up!

drbj, too much information on any site is just a bad idea. Some people are so open and do not realize how much trouble they could get into to that way. One of my cousin's was so excited to get her driver's license, she posted it on Facebook... full address and all. Sigh.

Sunshine625, I am not that interested in being LinkedIn either. ;-) For now, I have a basic profile since I am looking for some part-time work. I used to have two profiles since I was forced to have one at a past job to stalk... I mean... search for customers. I deleted that profile the day I quit.

Thanks for the comments!


Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

Good helpful advice Jeannie. I only joined LinkedIn because I kept getting invited. There's a lot I don't like about the site, including the constant requests from people you don't know. Being a writer I may be paranoid that they only want to connect to see if any of my writing is worth stealing especially if they list themselves as a content writer etc. I have never received any relevant job vacancy notifications either.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 20 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

Jodah, it sounds like you've had relatively the same experience I have with LinkedIn. I get constant requests from people I don't know or people I'd like to forget about. I also don't seem to get any decent job notifications either. I just do the bare minimum for LinkedIn now since it has not helped me so far. Thanks for your comment!


B. Leekley profile image

B. Leekley 19 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

I go back and forth about staying on Linkedin or dropping it. You tips will help me make best use of it if I stay on it.


Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 19 months ago from Baltimore, MD Author

I feel the same way. I almost deleted it a couple of months ago, but then decided to just tone it down. Sometimes it feels awkward to be on it and see co-workers from the past. This is especially the case when I worked at offices that required workers to join the company's LinkedIn groups. I usually drop out of those groups because I feel like I am crashing the party.

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