And why I use it anyway
By April Blake
“You’ve got to have a LinkedIn or it looks suspicious. Or like you don’t know how to use computers, neither of which sends the right message.” I said that to a friend who was having a hard time finding a job after graduating as a non-traditionally aged student. I hate the truth behind it, and I extend my general disdain to all of LinkedIn. People only present these shiny, glossed-up versions of themselves to the world when they need something from them. It’s the digital version of pasting a Mona Lisa smile on your face during a really boring meeting. It’s like a resume requiring frequent engagement to prove your professional worth. AND, it’s not really real.
When do you normally update your LinkedIn, reader? Is it when you want something from it? Most people only update their LinkedIn and start posting new statuses for the feed when looking to find a new job or checking out potential hires. Or finding a sly way to meet someone they think can help their career. It’s hard to feel good engaging with content and people who you know have a motive lurking behind their dry clean-only clothes and their jazzed-up job titles.
But seriously, who feels like they are putting a true version of themselves on LinkedIn? I’m not saying you need to upload your bachelorette party photos. But what LinkedIn represents is a very thin sliver of oneself. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that some people believe that what they
see on social media is 100% real. They don’t understand the iceberg effect that is social media, which is what it sounds like: the general public only sees what shows above the surface, not what lurks below. Below sea-level is the real grunt work you put in daily, the griping with coworkers or friends, the emotions you bury when rejected after a job interview and the flaws that make us who we are. What shows above is a merely smiling face and perky updates to the LinkedIn feed.
“Just took a course on SEO and am totally ready to rock my company’s website strategy! Let’s chat if you’ve taken it too so we can synergize!”
Can we get a filter for this type of stuff?
And speaking of chatting, how about messaging on LinkedIn? Pretty much every woman on LinkedIn has received a weird message from a thirsty man. But then again, that happens on all social media platforms, not just LinkedIn. And what about the irrelevant job offers? Sorry, I am not moving to Austin, Texas, for a social media internship!
All complaining aside, LinkedIn is useful sometimes. You can see the history of someone whose career you admire. Or reference it to see people’s experience if you’re going to interview them or be interviewed by them. And you can list your published works in one spot. I’ve even snagged a few freelance gigs from people who found me on LinkedIn, but they’re usually location-specific.
Really, my annoyance with LinkedIn may not be with the platform itself, but with how people attach importance to the constant maintenance of it. With few things for me to update about my job due to its nature, it feels like I’m neglecting LinkedIn, which in turn makes me look not very up-to-date on social media and marketing skills. Let’s all agree to see and use LinkedIn for what it is — a semi-interactive resume featuring our smiling mugs that only gets updated when we need something from it.
By the way, I’ll be checking my LinkedIn messages for your freelance gig offers.