LinkedIn 201: Perfecting your LinkedIn Settings

LinkedIn 201: Perfecting your LinkedIn Settings

In the beginning, she had just graduated. Flush with her accomplishment and a sense of possibility, she set out to conquer the world. On the first day, she created a profile on LinkedIn. And (because she had used my tips in LinkedIn 101) she saw that it was good. On the second day, she thought: But how do I make sure people can see this awesome thing I’ve created? So she set about tweaking her settings to maximize viewership. And she saw that they were good. More important – so did the people who had opportunities waiting for her.

Welcome back to my LinkedIn series for new grads! This post discusses the somewhat hidden world of LinkedIn settings. As you read this tutorial, shed your notions about guarding your privacy. That’s sound advice for most of your online life, but when it comes to LinkedIn, you want people to be able to find you and learn why you’re the perfect candidate for their opening.


Let’s start with the Basics – the first page LinkedIn will take you to under Settings & Privacy. (Along the top of the screen, toward the right-hand side, you’ll see your tiny profile picture over the section heading “Me.” Click on “Me,” and, under the Account heading, select Settings & Privacy).


When you click on Settings & Privacy, you should see this menu, which includes information about your Account — the Basics, Privacy, and Communication.  You are looking at “the Basics” first off.

Update Your Email Address. Check to make sure LinkedIn’s primary email for you is one you still access. Too often, people miss out on opportunities because they don’t see a message from an interested party. If you’re looking at a circa 2003 Hotmail account, you need to change it to an email address you access regularly. While we’re talking about email addresses: Choose a professional email address, such as an alumni address, or your Leave for your other social media pursuits.

Set Your Name, Industry and Location. On this same page, you’ll see a heading for Name, Location & Industry. If you’ve changed your name, you’ll want to consider whether to keep your former name as well. Remember, this is all about people finding you, and including the name you have used in academic or professional contexts helps people do that.

Next, choose an industry. If, post-commencement, the world is your oyster, don’t choose an industry until you’re good and ready. If you have already chosen an industry, you can change it within the options list (but you can’t go back to no industry). If the industry you’ve chosen isn’t netting you the kinds of leads you want, I recommend playing with these settings a bit. If you were a dual Econ/Poli-Sci major, for example, you may start with Banking. But, if in a couple of weeks you’re feeling uninspired by the data scientist jobs coming your way, change your industry to Public Policy and see if those opportunities fit your goals better.

Location. Be strategic. If you’re looking for jobs in Chattanooga, do not publish your address in Chicago. Very few industries are willing to relocate employees – especially entry-level employees – and most will only look inside their target markets. So borrow an address from a friend in your aspirational market, or leave your address blank, and provide your email and telephone number.


Once you’re done with the Basics, scroll over to “Privacy.”

Edit your public profile. To start, be sure your public profile is visible to everyone. In particular, make sure Headline and Skills are visible. Also on this page, you can customize your LinkedIn URL. This is pretty cool. First, try your full name. But if your name is John Brown, you may well be LinkedIn’s one millionth John Brown. To get rid of that trail of digits, try adding your middle name, or using a nickname people recognize (I’m thinking Pete or Christy, not Honey Boo Boo).

Who can see your connections. In general, I favor keeping this public, but it does depend on your line of work. If you’re in sales, for example, you may want to close your connections, so your competitors can’t raid your clients. If you want to keep your connections private, select “Only You.”

Viewers of this profile also viewed. LinkedIn allows you to see what viewers of your profile took a gander at. If someone looked at you and at one of your connections, for example, this will show up here. It can be useful info to have, and help you figure out why someone’s checking out your profile. (Full disclosure: It’s also useful for recruiters like me).

Notifying connections when you’re in the news. Yes! Unless you’re expecting a raft of unfavorable press, let LinkedIn toot your horn for you.

Who can see your last name. This isn’t Facebook, and you’re not trying to prevent Great Aunt Sally from discovering your views on the current administration. People looking to make a hire are not inclined to reach out to Marcia C or Tricia R. Unless you’re in the intelligence community, allow everyone to see your full name.


But wait – there’s more!

Email Frequency. One small but impactful change is setting your Email frequency, which you can do by clicking on Details. If you’re looking for a job, set these to individual notification for as much as you can tolerate – you really don’t want to miss something because it was buried in a digest. Start with checking “individual” for invitations, messages and notifications.

You can also control who can send you invitations. Once again – and I hope you’re sensing a theme here – your default should be “Everyone on LinkedIn.” This only allows people to send you an invite. You can always say no. Now’s not the time to worry about someone’s tendency to post annoying memes: If you know someone in a professional or academic context, accept their invitation.

Messages from members. Here, select “Introductions and Inmail.” Introductions are, as the name implies, a connection making an introduction for you. That’s usually a good thing! Inmail is LinkedIn’s messaging service, allowing someone with a premium account to reach out, often about a job opportunity. You’ll also find a box to add contact advice or information. If you want to eliminate LinkedIn as a middleman, you can add your contact info here. (But know that it could open you up to spam).

Those are the top-level settings I think every job hunter should know. Once you get started, you’ll see there are many places to play around and customize your settings to your needs.

And if you’re wondering what happened on the third day, she didn’t rest – the work was just getting started! Check back next month for the final post in this series – a deeper dive into the choices LinkedIn offers, and how navigate them for your particular circumstances.

What makes a great LinkedIn profile standout from the crowd? Download our TalentFront LinkedIn 101 Guide and find out!