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How to Use LinkedIn for a Stealth Job Search

By Susan P. Joyce

LinkedIn is essential for a successful job search today. At a minimum, you need to have a complete ("All Star") Profile. If possible, you need to be active in the appropriate LinkedIn Groups for your work and location, sharing information and making solid comments.

I strongly recommend that -- if at all possible (and sometimes it is not possible) -- people continue working in their old jobs while looking for their new jobs. If you have the option to stay employed, you are much more attractive to an employer when you are still employed.  Not logical, but very human (here's why).

Once you have a new job, don't drop LinkedIn. It may well help you be more successful in your work. But, best of all, your next job might find you on LinkedIn, unless it is obvious that you have dropped out and aren't paying attention.

Some Employers Are Wary of Employee LinkedIn Activities

Some employers look for a dramatic increase in your LinkedIn activities as a sign that you are job hunting. 

Which can lead to job loss. So don't ramp up your LinkedIn activities too dramatically.

But, most people in LinkedIn are working on expanding their network, sharing good information about their employer's products and/or services and learning from industry thought leaders.

People also use LinkedIn to get in touch former colleagues and old friends and to meet new potential clients, all to help them improve their job performance.

So, being in LinkedIn can also mean you are a savvy business person, leveraging current technology to improve your ability to do your existing job better, through better networking, and learning new skills.


NOTE:  Some employers do not want their employees using social media, particularly during working hours and/or using the employer's computers, networks, etc. Check for a "Social Media Use" policy (and also an "Email and Internet Use" policy), to be sure that you are in compliance.

Check to see if others in your group, particularly managers, are using LinkedIn, and observe how they are doing it before you jump in. And, if asked, explain that you are expanding your network so you can do your job better, just like they are.

LinkedIn and Smart Job Hunting

If you are employed, don't make it obvious that you are job hunting!

  • Before you expand your LinkedIn Profile and activities, look for other employees also active - or at least present - on LinkedIn.  If there are more than 100 employees, I bet that several are active on LinkedIn. Hopefully, your boss also belongs to LinkedIn, and this is usually a good sign.  It's also a sign to watch the DO's and DON'Ts below very carefully!
  • Check out the LinkedIn Profiles of fellow employees (and managers, particularly senior managers) to see how active they are.  If they belong to industry Groups, join the same Groups and then participate very carefully, without advertising your job search efforts.

However, if no one else is in LinkedIn, don't take that as a sign that you have free rein to do anything you want! Someone from your current employer could join, and expect to "connect" with you. I've even heard of clueless recruiters checking out a potential job candidate by contacting the employer via LinkedIn.  So do be active, but also be very careful!

[MORE: 3 Ways to Update Your LinkedIn Profile Unobtrusively.]


  • Do comply with your employer's Social Media Usage policy (if there is one).
  • Do be sure that you have a complete ("All Star") LinkedIn Profile.
  • Do participate in LinkedIn regularly (status updates, etc.) so your employer doesn't see a change in your behavior as a sign you are in job search mode.


  • Do NOT give the impression that you are looking for a job. Instead...

    • DO participate in groups related to your employer, industry, and potential clients/customers to raise your employer's visibility.
    • DO participate in groups related to your job, profession, or employer, so you stay up to date with the latest trends, new technologies or techniques, new (and old) competitors, movers and shakers, etc.
  • NEVER announce in your "Professional Headline" that you are "seeking a new position as a…"
  • Do NOT openly post or participate in the LinkedIn Groups for job hunting (like Job-Hunt's Job Hunt Help group).

    • DO be a "lurker" - read the comments and discussions, but don't post anything openly in these Groups.
    • Do NOT show the Group logo in your own Profile (selected in each Group's "Settings" in the Group drop-down menu under "More").
    • DO very carefully contact people in the Group privately if you find a kindred soul or someone you can help.
  • Do NOT ask your current boss for a LinkedIn recommendation, and be careful of collecting many recommendations from others working for the same employer.

[MORE: Stealth Job Search Networking .]

Bottom Line

LinkedIn is a big help for your career, your employer, and – when you are ready – your job search. Participate regularly, and it will pay off for you. And don't quit using LinkedIn when you have landed your new job! Keep your Profile ready for that next job search, unless your new job finds you first (on LinkedIn).

LinkedIn for Stealth Job Search:

For More Information About Finding a Job While Employed:

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 Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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LinkedIn and Recruiters:

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