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I'm currently a gainfully employed software engineer at a company where I am well-liked and in no danger of losing my job. However, due to various factors, I feel like I want a change of pace. I have a LinkedIn profile, and I would like to let recruiters know to contact me, but if my current job gets wind that I'm thinking of leaving, it might cause me problems at my current job and I might find myself out the door faster than I was otherwise prepared for.

Question: Has anyone set their LinkedIn settings to "actively looking" while still at a current job, and have you ever had problems with your current employer finding out you are looking?

I'm not asking about how to deal with such a scenario, because if it gets to that point I feel like I'm probably already screwed. What I want to know is, LinkedIn says that they will not show your current company that you are looking, and my question is what risks are involved in that and how good is their privacy protection?

EDIT: Since it appears to be getting misunderstood, by setting my settings, I mean my job search preferences that get shared with recruiters; I'm not going to write on my profile in big bold letters "ACTIVELY SEARCHING"; that is, of course, ridiculous.

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    Reminds me of our DevOps guy in my previous job. He had been there for a decade and was severely underpaid. One day he sent everyone an email with a screenshot of his linkedin profile to show us something unrelated. On it, the words Actively Looking were prominently featured. Good times. I hear they pay him better now :) – rath Apr 18 at 14:18
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    I think it's important to understand the scope of this question is a specific setting in LinkedIn which is designed to allow you to advertise to recruiters that you're looking for a job. LinkedIn explicitly hides the way you've set this flag from people who are tagged as being employed by your current employer Ertai87 can correct me if I'm wrong, but the question is asking "how well does that hiding work." – dwizum Apr 18 at 14:36
  • @dwizum Yes, that is an accurate restating of the question – Ertai87 Apr 18 at 14:54
  • Given the "errors" of data being made visible etc etc we all hear about - are you sure you really want to trust this? – Solar Mike Apr 18 at 16:30
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To provide some context, LinkedIn has a specific setting called, Let recruiters know you’re open to opportunities. This setting works as the name implies - LinkedIn users who are tagged as Recruiters will know if you've set it to "Yes." Other users won't see the way you have set this flag, either way. Setting this flag to "yes" also lets recruiters see the job search preferences you've configured, if any - target employers and industries, and so on. This setting is sometimes referred to as the actively looking flag. It is meant to imply an active candidate, not a passive "yeah I'd think about it if the right job fell in my lap"" candidate - notably, LinkedIn only allows you to set this flag to yes for 6 months at a time, after which they flip it back to "no" for you (if you're still looking, you can go in yourself and flip it back to yes after that, for another 6 months).

In addition, and more relevant to your question, LinkedIn hides the setting of this flag from recruiters who work for your current employer. From their website,

In order to protect your privacy, we take steps to keep Recruiter users who work at your company, as well as related companies, from seeing the career interests that you share

This functionality has the obvious benefit of preventing your current HR department from learning that you're looking for another job. Your specific question was,

Has anyone set their LinkedIn settings to "actively looking" while still at a current job, and have you ever had problems with your current employer finding out you are looking?

So, while the other two current answers do provide good advice, they don't specifically address this "actively looking" flag. I can tell you a few things, from my personal experience and from working with other people who have found jobs via LinkedIn:

  • The flag does what they claim. Users marked as Recruiters and who are employed with your company, or have an official relationship to your company that's represented on LinkedIn, can't see that you've flipped it to Yes.
  • Other recruiters, including independent 3rd parties, can see that it's set to Yes. This is desired, of course, but it's also a potential loophole. If a Recruiter user who's not employed at your company sees it, there's nothing that directly prevents them from telling someone at your employer. Except, of course, that it would be very bad practice to do so (why would a recruiter want to do something that would be potentially harmful for a potential candidate?)

In the cases I'm aware of, no one has ever had their current role, or their career search, harmed by setting this flag to yes. Of course, this is anecdotal (although it seems like that's what you were looking for). In the end, if you're actively looking and applying for jobs, recruiters at other employers are going to know you're looking - the flag just takes that fact and broadcasts it to a larger audience, it's not inherently introducing new information. The good news is, recruiters are used to the fact that candidates who are currently employed are typically not going to want their current employer to know that, so behaviors that are already in place in the recruiting community generally support respect for the way a user configures this flag on LinkedIn.

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There's a ton of results on your favourite search engine for

"How do I hide my LinkedIn job-hunting from my current employer?"

Example

Here’s a quick tip if you’re using LinkedIn for job hunting and you don’t want co-workers, bosses, executives, customers or anyone else to see you updating your LinkedIn profile or making recommendations (i.e., you want to hide your LinkedIn job hunting activity from your connections).

Before using this technique, check the bottom of the article. LinkedIn only shuts down some of your broadcast activity through these settings. There are some profile updates that will still be broadcast to your connections even after you make your changes.

Read the rest of the linked article for the actual settings, but you're basically tailoring your feed to only expose what you want to who you want.

Same as you would do with Facebook and other social media accounts.

As far as I recall, LinkedIn has a button on your profile to show you how others see you, allowing these settings to be tested.

But do some research, there's lots of information out there on this subject.

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Has anyone set their LinkedIn settings to "actively looking" while still at a current job, and have you ever had problems with your current employer finding out you are looking?

When you go on linkedin, it matches your profile with people at the same company. So folks at your company would know you have a linkedin profile. You'd also see people within your recommended network. Not really a big deal, though.

Also, when you view other people's profile, it lets them know that you viewed their profile. So if your manager has a linkedin account, you view it, he'd - potentially depending on how often he logs in - know you viewed his profile so he might view yours and add you to his network.

As always, exercise common sense when using social media. Don't post anything negative about your current employer, don't talk bad about anyone, don't associate yourself, along with your company, to anything controversial or negative. Just don't put on your profile that you're "actively looking." Just keep it updated and current and most employer won't have a problem with it, especially if they too have a linkedin profile.

Any professional place would recommend you keep your resume current. Matter of fact, at my current employer, they recommend I keep a updated resume once a year. It's a smart move because you don't know if your employer will go or if you want to go. Having a resume handy is a good idea.

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