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Increase Your Visibility to Recruiters with LinkedIn "Shared Career Interests"

By Susan P. Joyce

LinkedIn Shared Career Interests

Formerly known as "Open Candidate," LinkdIn's "Shared Career Interests" offers members the ability to increase their visibility to the vast number of recruiters who use their LinkedIn Recruiter service.

To join, go to the "Your Dashboard" section on your Profile. Each Profile has a dashboard, visible only to that member. The dashboard shows you how visible you are in LinkedIn (see the numbers in "Profile views," "Post views," and "Search appearances"). Also, circled above, is how you can access "Shared Career Interests." (More details about that process below.)

To find the Dashboard in your LinkedIn account, click on "Me" at the top right of a LinkedIn page (when you are logged in), and then click on "View Profile." Find your Dashboard near the top of your Profile. By default, as shown above, the setting is "Off" until the member changes it.

If you decide to use this tool, LinkedIn will share the following information with recruiters who use their LinkedIn Recruiter service:

  • Flag you as open to hearing about new opportunities.
  • Job titles or roles you're interested in (asked in the sign-up form, described below).
  • If you're open to full-time or contracted opportunities (asked in the sign-up form, described below).
  • Date you flagged yourself as open to new opportunities.

Since not every recruiter or employer can afford to use LinkedIn Recruiter, your interest in new opportunities may not be visible to your target employers.

Details on how to join most effectively are below. But you might want to consider these cautions, next, before you sign up.

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Cautions for Employed Job Seekers

According to LinkedIn, apparently 90 percent of eligible members opted to join this program. But, I encourage caution, particularly if you are employed!

Traditionally, employers have been very concerned about employees who are in a job search (a.k.a., a "flight risk"):

  • Employees who leave may take valuable information with them -- company secrets, client lists, and other important "insider" information..
  • Employees who are in a job search are focused on finding that new job and not paying close attention to their current jobs.
  • If you are working on something important or sensitive, you may be seen as someone who could be untrustworthy.

The result for the employee can be immediate job loss, as soon as the job search activities are discovered.

On the sign-up page, below, where you can select "On" to choose to participate in this program, they make the following statement:

"We take steps to not show your current company that you’re open, but can’t guarantee complete privacy."

They cannot make this guarantee because many recruiters are not employees of the company they are recruiting for. They are independent recruiters who may be working on contract with several employers. LinkedIn will probably not be able to protect you from these recruiters because their connection to your employer will likely be invisible to LinkedIn.

To Minimize the Risk of Job Loss

If you are employed now, before you click the "On" button to activate Shared Career Interests:

Be sure you have correctly identified your current employer in your LinkedIn Profile.

Look for your employer's logo on your Profile beside your current job description. Test by clicking on the logo, and visiting the LinkedIn "Company Page" for your employer. Verify that the employer connected to your Profile is actually your employer.

LinkedIn will attempt (but, as indicated, cannot guarantee) to block your current employer from knowing you have become an Open Candidate (for the reason, see # 2, below). They implement the blocking based on the name of your current employer. If that name is not correct on your Profile, you could be at risk.

So, consider your other options before joining LinkedIn Shared Career Interests. LinkedIn provides more information on this page: Learn more.

Negative "Active Candidate" Label Assigned?

By joining this program, you may be viewed by recruiters or employers as an "active candidate." Being an active candidate is not usually viewed positively.

For the last few decades, employers have been more interested in hiring a "passive candidate" (someone who is, presumably, happily employed and not looking for a new job), and less interested in hiring an "active candidate" (someone actually looking for a new job). Crazy, but real nonetheless.

Notice also that one of the bits of information which is made available to recruiters (above) is the date you "flagged" yourself as open to new opportunities. So, LinkedIn is telling them how long you have been an "active candidate."

Time may change this negative view, or LinkedIn's credibility and business acumen may overcome it for LinkedIn Active Candidates.

How to Activate LinkedIn Shared Career Interests

The sign-up process is pretty clear. Start by clicking on "Career interests" in your Profile's "Dashboard" at the top of this page and near the top of your Profile (when you are in Me >> View Profile mode).

Then, follow these2 steps to effectively activate Shared Career Interests:

1. Join by clicking the button beside the word "Off" (in the image below). It will change to "On" and you will be added to the program.

Note the privacy warning visible below the text in the red square above.

2. Scroll down this page, and you will see that additional information is collected to help recruiters know what you want next. Be sure to complete all of these fields.

  • The "Note to Recruiters" gives you the opportunity (in 300 characters or less) to do some personal marketing and provide information not visible in your Profile, like what you want to do next and any other personal information that might be relevant. Be careful what you share, though.
  • "What job titles are you considering?" Target job title is important to recruiters, so choose this job title carefully, preferably picking the job titles that your target employers use for the job you want next.

    When you start typing in a job title, LinkedIn will probably offer you options to choose from. For example, begin by typing "marketing" in the "+ Add title" field, and you will likely see "Marketing Manager," "Marketing Director," "Marketing Coordinator," "Marketing Assistant," and so on appear. Choose the most appropriate for you. You may add additional job titles, but it's smart to choose titles that are related so you look focused and consistent with your profile. These are very important keywords for you!
  • "What locations would you work in?" Click on the "+Add location" button, start to fill in the blank, and LinkedIn will suggest choices for you. I added 20 locations and it looked like I could add more, but I think the smartest approach is to choose a few.

    When you start to type in the name of a large city, LinkedIn may offer you a "Greater [whatever] Area" option, which could offer the greatest flexibility and widest opportunities.
  • "What types of jobs are you open to?" The options are Full-time, Contract, Part-time, Internship, Remote, and Freelance.
  • "What industries do you prefer" Click on the "+Add industry" button and type in the industry you want. As usual, LinkedIn will offer you options. There doesn't appear to be a limit on the number you can choose, but I would limit my options to 3 at most.
  • "What size company would you like to work for?" You choose minimum and maximum numbers from the options LinkedIn makes available.

LinkedIn has specific options for you to select when you are adding job titles, locations, and industries. Typing in another term is labeled "Invalid input" apparently not accepted or shared with employers.

To learn how LinkedIn describes the Shared Career Interests process to employers, read this page -- 2 New Ways to Discover Candidates Who Are Open to Hearing From You on LinkedIn. It is very interesting!

Bottom Line

This is the opportunity for more visibility with employers. It does offer some risks, but the risk may be offset by the added visibility.

More about LinkedIn for Job Search:


About the author...

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. A veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a recent Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 1998, Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn.


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