Trying to keep your LinkedIn Profile information hidden from the prying eyes of your boss or colleagues?
To paraphrase an old advertising slogan: Sorry, Charlie. There’s no way to add information on LinkedIn and prevent it from being seen.
The confusion arises when LinkedIn users see the option for a Public Profile and believe its purpose is to lock down information. (It’s actually a way to prevent access to your Profile from outside of LinkedIn or by users with no LinkedIn account.)
Even the information from LinkedIn’s Help Center makes it clear that you can’t prevent access to your Profile… yet the myth of “privacy” continues to exist. Just Google “How to make LinkedIn Profile private” and you’ll see the same misinformation, over and over.
Here’s 5 reasons why your LinkedIn data is (almost) always 100% public:
1) The Public Profile doesn’t do what you think it does.
LinkedIn offers you the option of a privacy option for your Public Profile. Again, this is for the URL TO YOUR PROFILE, not the Profile itself!
Within Privacy Settings on LinkedIn, there’s an option called Manage Your Public Profile. In it, there’s a setting for Profile content that says “Make my public profile visible to no one.”
However, the text immediately above it says you’re only controlling how you appear when people search for you on Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.
Anyone who wants to see your information on LinkedIn need only create a Profile and connect with a few users close to you, and your “privacy” vanishes. It’s as simple as that.
2) Most people who watch you on LinkedIn are signed into the site.
Now that LinkedIn has 220+ million registered users, any of them can use the site's Search function to find you, using the Search function at the top of each page.
They don't need to remember your full name, either; LinkedIn allows searches on People, Companies, Universities, or Groups, so that users can quickly drill through the results. Most active users stay logged into LinkedIn, which "remembers" sign-in credentials for easy access.
As LinkedIn states here, when other users find you, 100% of the information you put on your Profile is visible to them, as long as they're connected to you (1st and 2nd-degree Connections).
Users outside your network will see just your name. And before you think this is the answer, read on…
3) You can’t control the actions of your network.
All it takes for you to become a 2nd-degree Connection away from someone else (your boss, for example) is for someone in your circle to connect with that person.
In other words, refusing to connect with your colleagues or supervisors on LinkedIn may work for a while, until your network grows (or their network expands). In an instant, they can become closer to you on LinkedIn, with full access to see your Profile.
4) It’s possible to see past LinkedIn’s Public Profile filters.
Some expert recruiters are able to perform an “x-ray” search on LinkedIn Profiles and find connections that normally wouldn’t be accessible. In fact, Google results on x-ray searches for LinkedIn Profiles turn up well-written articles like this one from BooleanBlackBelt.com.
While it’s true that most people wouldn’t know how to do this, don’t discount the possibility of some companies actively surveying LinkedIn for activity by their top employees—using these methods.
5) Activity Broadcast Settings only prevent notifications to other users.
Say you’re connected with several co-workers on LinkedIn, but you’d rather not announce changes to your Profile (often a dead giveaway that you’re looking elsewhere).
You can log into your Settings (at the top right hand of the page, under your avatar) and locate Privacy Controls to uncheck the box labeled “Let people know when you change your profile, make recommendations, or follow other users.”
What this does, however, is remove the announcement itself, not the activity… meaning anyone monitoring your Profile for changes will quickly see your revisions. (Don’t assume your worried boss won’t double-check your Profile on a regular basis.)
So, the fact remains that if your boss or team want to look at your LinkedIn Profile, they’ll find a way to do it!
Remember: the Public Profile option you see in LinkedIn only controls what users see from OUTSIDE of it, and even then, there’s plenty of work-arounds.
Keep this in mind when adding new data on LinkedIn, since there’s no way to “lock down” your Profile and prevent spying eyes from viewing your information.