What Can I Say if My Boss Notices I’ve Updated My LinkedIn Profile?

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Oops! You recently made some changes or updates to your LinkedIn profile content and your boss or colleagues have noticed that and are asking you about it, or worse yet, have expressed disapproval or alarm.

As an executive resume writer who is often asked by my executive clients for executive resume writing tips, I have found that I am frequently approached for advice as well on how to effectively and safely create visibility on LinkedIn. While professional networking and profile crafting on LinkedIn are great ways to self-promote your personal brand, when currently employed it can be rather sticky to do so without seemingly broadcasting your intention to move on. You may be perfectly  happy where you are and have no plans to leave, but that doesn’t mean you want to stop networking and let your profile go stale.

Unless you deliberately post or circulate your executive resume, you are fairly safe from someone you would rather not know running across your resume. Not so much for your LinkedIn profile. By design, LinkedIn is a public venue intended to bring broad visibility, unless you take steps to limit your exposure. (See my post about Privacy Considerations on LinkedIn for tips on how to limit that exposure.)

How did your boss or co-workers find out? You either forgot to temporarily change your privacy/notification settings on LinkedIn, so an email notice was generated to your contacts list, or perhaps your boss or colleagues just make a habit of looking periodically at profiles of people they know.

So what to do now? You need to be prepared beforehand with a good answer when asked why you have updated your profile (or made new connections). Following are some tips for how to respond when confronted with questions on why you have been active on LinkedIn. One or more of these responses should fit your situation, and you can use one or a combination:

  • “I routinely update my profile and build my network to show my position as a representative of the company and expert in my field.”

  • “I routinely update my profile and build my network for the purpose of business development, to build our sales prospect pipeline, and to generate leads.”

  • “I routinely update my profile and build my network as part of my ongoing efforts to expand my network (and thus our company’s visibility).

  • “I routinely update my profile and build my network to present a strong image for potential customers who may want to verify my qualifications and credentials.”

  • “I routinely update my profile and build my network to enhance the company’s competitive position and public image.”

The above scenario of a disgruntled boss is actually fairly unlikely. I have provided thousands of executives with resume writing services and tips since I began as an executive resume writer in 1976. (See my post on How to Write a Dynamite Executive Resume, With Samples for some resume writing tips and strategies.) Since LinkedIn launched in 2002 and rapidly grew to dominate the recruiting world through that decade (95%+ of recruiters and hiring executives say they use LinkedIn to source or learn more about candidates), I have helped many of those executives optimize their LinkedIn profiles and strategy. I have yet to encounter one executive who ran into a problem with their boss due to updating their profile.

Another possible scenario is that your boss realizes that you have great value in the marketplace and that he or she needs to make sure you stay happy–not a bad thing at all!

Now, have you updated that profile recently?