Should we all turn off Linkedin Notifications permanently?

By Neil Patrick

The number one trap that inexperienced Linkedin users seem to get caught out by is its activity broadcast settings. In a misguided attempt to help members promote themselves, everytime you make a change to your profile, give an endorsement or follow someone, Linkedin will send an automated message to all your contacts telling them that you’ve done it.

Now I think automatic notifications are pretty annoying. But this particular one is potentially catastrophic for jobseekers.


Just think about it. If you have just lost your job, you cannot show you are still employed in your old job (at least not if you don’t want to risk being caught out by your next employer or a recruiter who checks you out).

In this situation, many people engage in volunteering, contract work or consultancy whilst they are job-hunting. It keeps you sharp, earns you some money and expands your network. It also keeps the dreaded word “Unemployed” off your profile.

All good so far.

But here's where the trap surfaces.

Most people rightly update their Linkedin profile to reflect this change. And since getting hired is now a priority, it’s natural and sensible to make sure your profile is as good as you can make it. So you might update your LinkedIn profile to say something like your current position is “Owner of XYZ Consulting”. Update and expand details of your skills and experience. Reach out to people in your network and make new connections. Or whatever.

However, the moment you make a change to your job title and/or employer, the LinkedIn auto messaging kicks in and sends a message to everyone of your contacts telling them you’ve got a new job! Erm...

At a stroke you’ve broadcast to everyone in you network PLUS potential employers searching for someone with your skills that you are now off the market. But the reality is you’re just starting your job search. And that’s a disaster.

It’s often made worse by the fact that it’s fairly normal to make changes gradually over a few days or weeks as we attempt to revise and update our profile to make it more suitable for our current aspirations. And every time we do, out goes another notification to our contacts.

The problem is that the default setting for Linkedin profile broadcast setting is ‘ON’. Fortunately it’s simple enough to turn it OFF. It’s just that unless you know your way around Linkedin's settings, it’s not very obvious how to do this.

So here’s a simple step by step to do this:

1. Go to your account settings by clicking on your image in the top bar and click on "Manage" against the Privacy and Settings option:

2. Within the Privacy Controls menu, select "Turn on/off your activity broadcasts"

3. Untick the broadcast box when it opens and then click the "Save changes" button:

That’s it. You can now happily make changes to your profile without LinkedIn telling everyone about it every time you do this.

You can revise, enhance, expand, update and polish your profile as much as you wish without annoying your contacts with notifications about it.

There is an important footnote to be aware of however. Turning activity updates off will NOT stop Linkedin sending activity updates when you do these things:

1) Add or change your profile photo.

2) Connect with other LinkedIn members. However, you can effectively turn this notification off when you make a new connection by hiding your connection list.

3) Share content.

4) Follow a company.

5) Upgrade your account to premium. (However this doesn't apply to Job Seeker subscriptions).

6) Follow an Influencer, Channel, or Publisher.

7) “Like” shared content.

8)  Engage in group activity. However, you do have the option to turn this off within your Group settings; if you don’t, your activity will be posted. This is optional depending on your personal privacy settings.

9) Reach an anniversary in your career eg. When you have spent 3 years at XYZ Corp..

Nb Because I am fairly active on Linkedin, I keep my Linkedin notifications permanently OFF. I don’t want to fill my busy contacts' messages boxes with automatic notifications every time I update my profile – they've got better things to do than read automatic notifications from me I reckon…

What do you think? Is it time we petitioned Linkedin to change the default setting to Off?

Are Britain’s worst brands also the worst employers?

By Neil Patrick

Here’s a question for you. If a firm serves its customers poorly, does that also mean they treat their staff poorly?

According to a new piece of research, this is exactly the case. The research by Belinda Parmar of LadyGeek led to the creation of what she calls ‘The Empathy Index’. I also think it’s a useful way of deciding who you really don’t ever want to work for…

It used a UK nationwide poll of 1,000 members of the public, online feedback from 25 employees per company and analysis of 100 of each firm's tweets.

Whilst we have to be careful to not mix up cause and effect, I think it’s fair to assume that if a firm tops the index, it is almost certainly a better employer than one from the bottom. Moreover, whilst I have no direct personal experience of working for any of these firms, I know people who do and I also have experienced most of them as a customer. The index certainly ‘felt right’ to me.

These are the firms that topped the Index :

Congratulations to Linkedin! I was also pleased to see John Lewis coming in at number 4 – their employees are always exceptionally helpful and deliver great service. It’s no co-incidence that they all seem to be happy in their work.

But it’s the bottom of the list that I was more interested in. This hall of shame contained few surprises for me:

The bottom firms on this table are fully deserving losers in my view. At the very bottom are Carphone Warehouse who ignore data privacy requests and Ryanair who advertise cheap "no-frills" flights to secure bookings and then upsell us “options” at the airport when we have no choice. If you have a musical instrument with you, that’s an extra £60. Airport check-in fee - £70. More than one bag - £40.

Ryanair’s chief exec Michael O’Leary's disdain for his customers and "colorful" language makes for headlines of the wrong sort. He must subscribe to the idea that there's no such thing as bad publicity. In 2012 Ryanair got a pasting on social media for charging a customer £236 to print out five boarding passes. He claimed that “99.98 per cent” of Ryanair passengers printed their boarding passes in advance: “To those who don't, we say quite politely: ‘B***** off’”. Just how exactly is that polite Michael?

In 2013, Ryanair was also voted by consumer group Which? as having the worst customer service in a survey of 100 of Britain’s biggest brands. Angry customers took to Twitter to tell the Irish aviation boss personally what an ‘a***hole’ they thought he was.

‘I am an a***hole,’ he admitted. ‘But they still love me.’ Erm, I’m not so sure about that, Michael…

I’ve never been a customer of Carphone Warehouse, but here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

During 2005, customers who bought mobile phones from Carphone Warehouse retail outlets alleged that their landline accounts were subsequently switched without their consent.

On 15 August 2006, the Information Commissioner's Office issued Preliminary Enforcement Notices for breaches of PECR (The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) against Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk for making marketing calls to people who are signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS) or people who have asked that the company make no further calls to them.

On 28 October 2006, in a Times interview, Richard Thomas, Britain's Information Commissioner, stated:

“We're taking action against some of the telecom companies, Talk Talk and Carphone Warehouse… because we've had a lot of complaints that they've been telephoning people with marketing calls, people whose name is on the telephone preference service. And then we do these prosecutions, particularly with private detectives. We've got a big case coming up.”

And finally we have BT. One of my friends worked for them and described the culture he experienced as “Daily agony.” A bullying culture that set unrealistic goals and punishing schedules. An expectation that people would work seven days a week and be grateful. The outsourcing of customer service to India where unintelligible workers in call centres would robotically read scripts to customers making helpdesk enquiries.

I think it’s fairly safe to say that the daily working experience for staff of the firms at the bottom of this index is just as miserable as it is for their customers. In fact probably worse, because they have to endure working with unhappy customers day after day after day.

In case you wish to discover how your current or potential employer performed on the Index, here’s a link to the complete document.

Why are so many job descriptions cut and paste catastrophes?

As employers increasingly complain about the poor quality of job applicants and trouble finding the skills they seek, the implication is that it’s not their fault.

Despite lots of searching and advertising, they just cannot secure the quality of talent and skills they aspire to; they are deluged with low quality applications.

Maybe, just maybe, they should look at their own actions first?

The advertised job description determines who applies. So why when I look at so many job vacancies are they cut and paste catastrophes?

Here’s a post for the position of Senior Marketing Manager I pulled at random today from Linkedin along with my own commentary in italics (with a few key points removed to protect the guilty):

Key Duties & Responsibilities: 
  • Work closely with ******* to identify and promote new opportunities 
  • Work with the web marketing team to develop effective, distributable marketing assets (tools, banners, emails) 
  • Assist affiliate team to identify potential partners willing to host content 
  • Write all required copy including: emails, product copy, press releases and social copy 
  • Update existing material 
  • Work with the design team to produce newsletters and mailings 
Senior Marketing Manager? A Senior Marketing Manager is more erm, senior than a simple Marketing Manager. Whilst they are not the principal owner of the marketing strategy (that of course is the remit of the Marketing Director) I would expect to see at least some mention of the word ‘strategy’ in this JD.

What about leadership? Nope. This is a hands-on, get the work done role. The only action verb here beyond the hands-on stuff is “Assist affiliate team…”

The reality is that this position is mainly about content production – writing copy, a bit of design work, and developing media distribution channels.

It’s not a Senior Marketing Manager position. It’s not even a Marketing Manager role. It’s a junior marketing  job.

Desired Skills and Experience


  • Degree (or relevant experience) 
  • Excellent computer competency 
  • A versatile portfolio showing experience with a range of clients 
  • At least 3 year’s copywriting experience 
  • Strong problem‐solving skills 
  • Excellent written communication skills 
  • Ability to effectively manage own workload and perform under pressure 
  • Quick to learn and adapt to new challenges 
  • Highly organised and reliable 
My diagnosis is borne out by this section. The only job specific essential requirement is 3 years copy-writing experience. The rest is more or less generic (I'm being polite - it's a cut and paste isn't it?). So with 3 years copy-writing experience do you suddenly have the necessary skills to be a Senior Marketing Manager? I'm sorry to disappoint the person that is hired for this job, but you've not become a Senior Marketing Manager...

Okay. So let’s look at the requirements that an absolutely great candidate will also possess:


  • Marketing based degree 
  • Knowledge of (our) products and services 
  • Understanding of affiliate platforms and tracking 
  • Experience of measuring the success of your writing and PR (for example through Google Analytics, A/B testing and campaign metrics) is extremely desirable 
Studied Marketing at university? Great. Tick that box. Unfortunately if you did that and then spent the next 3 years writing copy, the stuff you studied at university was probably written no later than about 2008 – when Twitter was just one year old and still in its infancy. See my point? The speed of marketing communications development is so fast today that even if you graduated as recently as 2010, most of what you studied has already been overtaken by subsequent media and marketing developments.

I’d expect a Senior Marketing Manager candidate to have experience of things like:
  • Acquiring and disseminating customer, competitor and market insights 
  • Product/service development and positioning 
  • Promotional strategy development and implementation
  • Experience of managing specialist external suppliers 
Nothing even remotely resembling this appears anywhere in this job description.

Nowhere in this JD is anything mentioned about goals and outcomes. Things like growing market share, enhancing product/service quality, monitoring and helping respond to competitor and market movements. A Senior Marketing Manager should be tasked with delivering marketing accomplishments. So an applicant that has a stellar record of such achievements won’t necessarily even get considered for this job.

A Senior Marketing Manager spends their time making their employer more competitive, more attractive to its customers, more profitable. Not writing copy and pushing it out to anyone who’ll take it.

I'm pretty confident that this vacancy will attract plenty of under-qualified applicants and very few great ones, simply because the best candidates will be entirely uninspired by the job description.

No salary or benefits information is given for this role. If this had been present, then at least the true nature of the job and whom it would suit would be clearer than the inflated job title infers. And it would demonstrate that the firm was being transparent about what was on offer.

Instead readers are just left with a sneaky feeling that the pay package will be disappointing or at best subject to fierce negotiation.

I’m left with the distinct impression that this firm’s ideas about marketing are all mixed up…and that their HR people probably need to skill up too…

Am I being fair, or is this just a unwarranted rant?