If you are a job-seeker or recruiter, then you have probably come across the popular business and social networking site called LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking service that allows recruiters to post jobs vacancies and job seekers to post CVs. It also connects people with shared professional and career interests. Some recruiters even use LinkedIn to head-hunt for the “perfect” candidate, as profiles generally show a person’s strengths (or weakness) in terms of talent, skill and experience.
There is no doubt that LinkedIn is a revolutionary invention that has completely changed the way we look for jobs, and establish professional networks. However, there are certain dangers that come with a “strengthened” LinkedIn profile⸻a profile that is meticulously updated, complete with a strong educational, professional and job history.
Because LinkedIn is the first stop for most recruiters, particularly those searching online, it creates privacy issues which allows anyone to search for you and have access, however limited (and depending on your profile settings) to your educational and professional history (both past and present) which can be a serious privacy issue. It also allows people to keep track of your professional trajectory (which can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you look at it).
A downside to a hugely digital world is the negative effects it has on the average consumer and the power it gives to those with anti-social proclivities. Consumers unaware of the effects of their digital footprint, expose themselves to the actions of possible stalkers who revel at innovative social media creations. Such people generally benefit from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn because it makes it much easier for them to terrorise, stalk or bully people, be it online or in person. A simple google search can reveal a wealth of information about a person who has an active online social media presence.
Closely related is the fact that LinkedIn gives people unlicensed permission to otherwise personal information about you. While not everyone who rummages through LinkedIn profiles’ is a stalker, it nevertheless grants people access to your personal space by showing them information about who you are, what you do and who you know.
It can easily be argued that to avoid this, you should limit the information you provide on your profile, but to do this is counterintuitive and defeats the purpose of being on LinkedIn in the first place. In other words, a person without a LinkedIn account is better than one with an incomplete profile. Worse, this could hamper possible job opportunities, because recruiters (should they decide on a preliminary LinkedIn check) have an incomplete picture about who you are in the industry. And If you are a job-seeker this could spell disaster.
While there is no escaping the digital world, we find ourselves in (at the risk of becoming a dinosaur), we have to find ways to work around innovations that on the one hand help improve the way we do things, but on the other, may threaten our personal safety.
To ensure that you remain safe while using online social media sites, it is vital that you strengthen your security settings to make sure that only people you know directly have access to your profile. This way, it is harder for strangers to have access to you both professionally and personally. Also make sure that you do not accept invitations from people you do not know. Remember it could be anyone sending you a connection request. Another poignant point is to avoid sharing personal information of any kind, particularly about your location and telephone or mobile numbers. This will only make it twice as easy for a stalker to track you down. And lastly, be wise about what you choose to reveal. Avoid revealing too much personal information that could potentially make you a target for prying eyes or put you in harm’s way.