10 Effective LinkedIn and Social Networking Tips for Cleared Professionals

Posted by Ashley Jones

Our top tips to effectively use social networking for cleared job search and career development.

1. Select Your Social Networks

When deciding which social media networks to use in your cleared job search, consider which platforms are popular within your industry. For many people, LinkedIn is highly valuable for professional networking, so it’s a great place to start, but not your only choice.

While you’re probably familiar with social media platforms like Facebook or TikTok, these aren’t likely going to serve you as well professionally. Instead, focus your professional networking efforts on more specialized online communities like GitHub, Slack, Reddit, or X. Exploring platforms like these alongside LinkedIn can broaden your professional network and enhance your cleared job search strategy.

Keep in mind, you can use some social networks for personal use and others for professional networking. Just be sure to review and adjust your privacy settings accordingly to maintain a professional online presence.

2. Optimize Your Profile

Ensure your profile is complete and professional on sites like LinkedIn:

Use a high-quality Profile Photo, dressed as if you’re ready for an interview. Some security-cleared professionals choose not to include a photo and it’s okay if that’s your preference – just be sure the rest of your profile is fully completed and polished.

Write a compelling, forward-looking Headline that communicates who you are and what you have to offer. Use a relevant job title and incorporate key strengths or areas of expertise. Separate different elements with the pipe character for clarity. For example:

Cybersecurity Analyst | Risk Management Expert | CISSP Certified

Your About section can be a slightly more robust version of your elevator pitch. Focus on your career goals and what you aim to achieve in your next role. This section should reflect your professional brand and aspirations.

Under Experience, emphasize your accomplishments rather than just listing responsibilities. Use bullet points to detail specific achievements, metrics, and the impact you made in each role. Prioritize the most recent 10 years, as this period is most critical to potential employers.

3. Customize Your URL

The default URL for your profile is long and ugly. Your goal is to shorten it to your name. Add numbers as necessary. Then use that shortened personalized URL on your resume, in your email signature, or on business cards that you use for your cleared job search.

4. Connect with Other Users

Who you connect with online depends on your career path and goals. In the cleared community, it’s common to connect primarily with people you’ve already met, or second-degree connections your network puts you in touch with. While you don’t want to just connect to anyone and everyone, don’t be afraid to network with recruiters at companies of interest. As you reach out to colleagues, peers, and recruiters, don’t just send random connection requests – personalize your invitations to further build the relationship.

5. Ask for Recommendations

Request recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, and even subordinates to build credibility on your profile. Writing recommendations for others can also strengthen your professional relationships. Remember, networking is a two-way street. Recommendations can be powerful and are sometimes the only thing a potential hiring manager will look at on your profile.

6. Be a Better Applicant

Before applying for a job, always check your social networks to see if you have any contacts that can give you intel to help you be a better applicant. On LinkedIn, real gold can be found in your second and third-degree connections. Keep in mind, candidates who are referred are four times more likely to get hired. So don’t forget to leverage your network for insider information and a chance to secure a referral.

7. Be Professional

When you’re on a professional social networking platform such as LinkedIn, refrain from liking, sharing, or commenting on things that may be viewed as unprofessional. Avoid controversial topics and posts that could be perceived negatively by employers or colleagues. Engaging in discussions about sensitive subjects like religion or politics can inadvertently offend someone, so it’s best to keep your interactions strictly professional. Focus on sharing industry-related insights, career achievements, and content that reflects positively on your professional image.

8. Transitioning Military Tips

When preparing to transition from the military, it’s important to think ahead to your civilian-cleared career. Start by using a professional photo that does not include your military uniform to appeal to a broader audience. In your Headline and About sections, mention you’re transitioning. You can even include the date you’ll be available or your willingness to relocate to certain locations.

Take a look at profiles of other people in your desired profession to gather ideas and best practices for presenting your experience and skills. Also, join LinkedIn groups dedicated to transitioning military and veterans, and consider connecting with others who have made similar transitions to build a supportive network and gain valuable insights.

9. Don’t Advertise Your Security Clearance

Some recruiters, especially in the Intelligence Community, hold reservations about candidates who openly display their security clearance on social networks. They argue it could attract unwanted attention or signal you might not exercise discretion appropriately. Some will even disqualify you from consideration for certain roles. You’re better served leaving it off your profile altogether because there’s no way to know which employer does/doesn’t care. Savvy recruiters in the cleared community can easily infer you have a clearance by looking at your experience and past employers, so there’s no need to blatantly advertise it.

10. Safeguard Your Cleared Career

At the end of the day, as a security-cleared professional, you need to act on social media as you see fit. Whether you keep your activity to a minimum and contain your network to those you’ve met in the real world, or you leverage these platforms to their maximum potential, always keep operational security in mind. Keep confidential information off of your profile and posts, and think twice before hitting the comment, like, or share buttons. Liking or joining groups that may be perceived as anti-government or extremist can cost you your security clearance and career, so choose your words and actions wisely – everything you post on the internet is permanent.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 25, 2024 12:53 pm

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