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If you’re looking for a job, following companies on LinkedIn can help you attract their recruiters. If your search is under the radar, there are slight risks—which I discuss below–but don’t let that stop you from considering this very useful feature.

Why should you follow companies on LinkedIn?

In general, the fastest job search method is to decide what companies you’re interested in, then proactively go after them, hunting for information, developing a “grapevine” of contacts, and thus making yourself both well-informed and highly visible. One small but worthwhile step in this process is to follow your target companies on LinkedIn. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it will help you in various ways.

As recruiters use LinkedIn to search for candidates, they’re especially attracted to those who’ve demonstrated an interest in their company, and they can filter their search results to prioritize that. Using LinkedIn Recruiter and its Spotlights tool, they can flag candidates according to criteria such as:

“More likely to respond.” Recruiters don’t want to waste their time. Following the company is one of the factors that gets you into this category.
“Engaged with talent brand” (soon to be known as “Interested in your company”). These are candidates who have interacted with the company’s content, which means following the company page, among other actions. (Also: liking, sharing or commenting on the company’s posts.)
“Have (first-degree) company connections.” Following a company doesn’t make you a first-degree connection, but it’s a good first step, because you’ll get posts related to the company in your news feed. “Like” and comment on those posts. When appropriate, send a connection request with a note like this: “Your post about X was very (insightful/helpful/interesting). I’d be honored if you would join my LinkedIn network.” If they accept, voila! You’re now a first-degree connection and more likely to get pinged about a job.

Remember to be real in your networking. Yes, you have an agenda, and that’s fine, but be genuinely friendly and helpful, too.

Is it risky?

There is a slight risk that following a company could cause your current employer to suspect you’re looking to leave. This is because other LinkedIn members can see the companies that you follow, in two main ways.

First, visitors to a company page can see a list of people who follow that page.
Second, visitors to your profile can scroll down to “Interests” at the bottom of your profile and click on “Companies” in that section.

How likely is it that your boss or other influential/nosy colleague will notice you followed another company? Not very. Even if your boss did see a company in your list, would they necessarily assume you were planning to jump ship soon? Probably not. It’s actually quite normal and professional to follow companies in your industry. People do this to check out competitors, for example, or to stay current on changes in one’s industry.

Furthermore, when someone sees you’re following a company, they can’t tell when you did so. For all they know, you may have clicked “Follow” long ago, before you started your current job.

If you’re still concerned, it may help to follow a large number of organizations—including professional associations, your alma mater, and so on. This may make individual companies less conspicuous in the list.

The upshot:

For most job seekers, the answer to “Should you follow companies on LinkedIn” is a definite “yes.” It’s easy, you just log in, type an organization’s name into the Search field and click Follow under the company’s name. (I recommend you visit the page as well, and see what you can learn and do there.) If you haven’t yet decided what companies you want to target in your job search, my post “How to Build Your Target Companies List Using LinkedIn” will help.