Recruiters – Think you have your connections hidden?…….Think Again!

Posted on June 9, 2010. Filed under: linkedin advice | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Understanding your LinkedIn Privacy Settings

If I had a pound for every Recruitment Consultant who asked me the following question, I would be typing this blog post on my new shiny (and complete unnecessary) iPad!;

“Should I have my connections browse open or closed?”

The answer is naturally influenced by who you intend to connect with and so individuals need to consider their specific circumstances before deciding but the following may be helpful;

  • If you have more than 500 connections leave it open, it is unlikely people are going to bother meticulously going through that many!
  • If you have less than 500 connections consider having it closed especially if you are in a very niche market or deal with contractors or interims (they are always looking for their next job and may trawl through your connections and approach them directly).
  • Non recruiters find it puzzling and annoying that Recruiters close their browse so you may need to explain your reasons.
  • If you hide something it may be interpreted that you are not being completely open in other aspects of your profile and communications on LinkedIn. Hiding anything can make others suspicious.

The most important thing to realise is that if you have your browse closed then you are not really protecting or hiding your connections, you are merely switching off a link to a list of them but it really isn’t that difficult to find your connections. Here is how it can be done;


Let’s take an example, I am an interim accountancy professional and you are a recruiter in that space. We connect and I want to see your first tier connections so that I can approach them directly to explore work opportunities – all I need to do is search for ‘FD OR “financial director” in the job title and hey presto – there are your connections!

Shared Connections

Recent changes mean that even if your browse is closed I can see those connections that we share.


When LinkedIn refers to ‘followers’ it means all of your first tier connections plus anyone that has decided to ‘follow’ you having seen a post in a group discussion. If I share a group with you I can also see how many ‘followers’ you have – very few people use the ‘follow’ feature so the chances are that all your ‘followers’ are actually first tier connections.

I recently checked out a connection who had 113 connections and had their browse closed;

  • 14 of these connections were shared so I could see them just by clicking on the link (their connection number)
  • I share 4 groups with this individual and through this I could identify another 26 ‘followers’ all of whom are first tier connections.
  • This individual is also a member of several other groups which I subsequently joined and revealed another 12 ‘followers’ – again all of these were first tier connections!
  • By guessing who their clients would be (in this case HR Directors and Managers) I performed an advance search and revealed another 20 connections.

So in summary, out of their 113 connections that they thought were hidden I fairly quickly got to see 72 of them!

Now admittedly not many people are going to be so interested as to undertake these tasks but the point is that it can be done so don’t kid yourself – your connections can never really be hidden, all you can do is make it a bit more difficult to find them.

In addition to this I will also be kept informed about all their new connections from now on because they have their ‘member feed visibility’ at the default setting and so every day I can see on my home page who they are connecting to!

I can’t stress how important it is for Recruiters to understand their privacy settings both in terms of what they can hide….and what they can’t!


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6 Responses to “Recruiters – Think you have your connections hidden?…….Think Again!”

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Great points Mark, and this goes directly to the heart of how Linkedin wants to be used, and how members want to use it.
Frankly, as a recruiter, I’d try to have separate Linkedin accounts for different clouds of contacts (i.e. clients and candidates). I know this is imperfect, as there is always overlap between groups, and Linkedin don’t like it.

Thanks for your comment. I am not sure 2 accounts can work for a Recruiter in a specialist market because in truth there is very little difference between a client and a candidate, over a period of time your contacts will be candidates and clients so how does this reconcile with having 2 profiles?
In addition I can imagine it being a nightmare trying to manage two different persona’s on LinkedIn!

Mark, excellent observations as ever, though I fear you may label we interims a little too broadly. We don’t all microdig into recruiters or anybody’s connections. It does seem to me that Linkedin is for networking (that’s a 2 way process last time I checked) so open seems the logical default for me. As an aside, why are the so called Open Networkers the worst culprits for being closed?

Very good points Charles, I know most interims are good, ethical networkers but recruiters need to be aware of those that are not (or even those who are but get desperate in a tough market).
Your point about open networkers is very valid, by default they should have large networks so who is going to be bothered going through thousands of connections anyway?

Yes, if 500 is tough, imagine all these guys n girls with 10000?

I have bugged my colleagues for the answer to this question and now you have finally clarified it – and more! Signing up for more of your Linkedin insights. Thanks….and will shortly move over to ‘open’, though a couple of candidates have said they do not want to be ‘seen’ to be actively linked to a recruiter in case their HR team thinks they are looking to move… Have a great weekend. e

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