LinkedIn (to not much at all)

(~780 words)

Remember the old days? I don’t; I’m 22. But remember when you’d see a job vacancy, adapt a CV and get it sent in to the organisation? Remember the frustration of not being able to see just how much better-qualified the four hundred other applicants were?

Well now there’s a service that takes the guesswork out of that whole process, allowing you to skip that wholly unnecessary rejection bit and go straight to the inferiority complex that inevitably follows!

LinkedIn logo

“Link in, link out, shake it all about”

LinkedIn – for the uninitiated among you – combines all the fun of being connected to people you don’t really care about via social media with all the overwhelming sense of inadequacy that comes with not having a particularly full CV. If you’re wondering what happened to Fred after you lost touch in VIth Form, simply track him down on LinkedIn and you’ll immediately see a list of all his achievements, presumably ranked in order of how bad they make you feel about yourself.

As if that weren’t enough, you can also list skills, and have people ‘endorse’ you for them. This is an excellent feature, as it is essentially a list of other people — vastly more professional-looking than you — with whom your stalkee has worked in the past. You can see that they’ve probably been endorsed for everything under the sun; from ‘foreign languages’ to ‘snappy dress sense’, from ‘friendly demeanour’ to ‘expert blogger’. That last one, incidentally, is one for which I am yet to receive an endorsement.

Only as strong as your weakest link(edin)

As the above might have made clear, I definitely have mixed feelings about LinkedIn. Some – myself included – have queried whether I really need to be on there at all, given that all I really have is restaurant experience and half a third-class degree to my name.

The best explanation I can think of is that making a LinkedIn profile is an achievement in and of itself.

I mentioned my recent Facebook cull in previous posts. What I neglected to do in that process was disconnect from a lot of those people on LinkedIn and Twitter, so periodically I’ll get messages from people saying “Hi, I know we haven’t talked in years, but can you endorse my Microsoft Word skills?”. The last time I saw that guy type out a document it was pink-on-black text, with alternating capital and lower case letters. It was 2008, and those were simpler days.

Trouble is, when you’re young, inexperienced and lacking in verve and thrustingness (another skill for which I have yet to be endorsed) it’s difficult to put together a professional profile that makes you look like anything other than a jumped-up tit.

Or so I thought

I connected recently with some other language students, and it turns out that everybody in the world is better than me at everything ever. I mean, I always suspected as such, but it’s still not nice to have it confirmed. It’s time like this I wish I had done some kind of work experience before now. It would be useful, I now realise, if only to keep up with the LinkedIn Joneses.

Perhaps it’s an issue of knowing how to spin yourself. For example, I generally spend a lot of time staring at the ceiling wondering why I’m even fucking alive, so perhaps I could list ‘existential philosophy’ as a skill.

Dress for the job you want

The thing that freaks me out about LinkedIn is the fact that you can’t adapt it depending on who’s looking. On reading your application, the recruitment people at PricewaterhouseCoopers’ PR department might go surfing for your online presence and find that you’ve received four separate endorsements for ‘cocktails’ and three for ‘extensive knowledge of firearms history and development’. Which I have. As impressive as I consider these achievements to be, they are likely not the kind of thing that that entry-level admin person is gonna be searching for.

Perhaps more worrying is the fact that you tend to need to put a picture of yourself up.

I like to dress up to go out.

I like to dress up to go out.

Should I Stay or Should I Go

So basically you should come to LinkedIn. Giggle at other people’s inflated senses of self-worth. Get upset about your own apparent lack of self-worth. Go see what your old school chums are up to. You don’t need a fancy job or a flash car or any real qualifications to make a profile, so why not come and humiliate yourself in front of anybody who remembers your name?

Just bring that same irrational hope with you that you’d take to any job interview and you’ll surely do fine. They’ve even got a newsletter.

More to come.

–Frank

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