I recently received an email from a security professional I met at a conference. She mentioned that she was looking for transitional positions and that other people had told her that she “had to” be on LinkedIn to find a position. I’m obviously not in a position to answer this question objectively (I work for a professional networking site where you can do the same thing you do on a public-facing social networking site). But as someone who works for the aforementioned professional networking site but is also very active on LinkedIn, I think I have at least some credibility. And my main takeaway is that if you’re a security professional, in particular, not only don’t you have to be on a site like LinkedIn, but you may be more likely to find a job through a site like ClearanceJobs or a security-related site. career event.
I’m active on LinkedIn and love using the site to connect with other professionals in my industry. Like any social networking site, there are pros and cons. Because there’s so much activity on LinkedIn, it can easily be time-consuming and it can be difficult to sort through the noise. I think one of the worst career advice you can get is to try to be everything in everything. If you hold a purple squirrel security clearance with a niche skill set, that really doesn’t give you any career credit for being active on social media. You certainly can, for a variety of personal and professional reasons. But it would be incorrect to say that your best path to a cleared job would be through LinkedIn.
Should I be afraid to create a LinkedIn profile?
You don’t need to be afraid to post a LinkedIn profile – it goes too far the other way – but you do need to be careful. If you’ve never committed to a public social networking site for security and career or other reasons, you have good reason to think twice about posting your entire resume on the Open web. If you’re using a social media site as part of your career search or in a professional capacity, it’s good to think about what you post and who you connect with.
A campaign created by the UK’s Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection and widely shared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence advises individuals to “think before you go online”. The campaign points out that individuals are often not what they appear to be – and many people who claim to want to connect for professional networking are actually linked to foreign adversaries.
Here are some ways to network with data protection and security in mind:
- Only connect with people you actually know/can verify directly.
- Do not list permission details on your profile/title.
- Limit the amount of career data you share, including the companies you’ve worked for.