The Truth About LinkedIn

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I first created a LinkedIn profile around five years ago when I was a sophomore in college. I’m not even sure as to what prompted this decision initially, but since then, I’ve barely used it and still don’t really understand it. It’s supposed to be used as a networking tool, as a source for both employers and those seeking employment. To me, it’s a job-history version of the chumps that post pictures of their presents on Facebook Christmas morning. Everyone can see your entire work history, including that one year of high school where you worked at Sonic to earn your beer money. You have options to list your school, your fraternity/sorority affiliations, awards, volunteer experience, etc. They even have options to submit examples of your written work. Somehow I don’t think my piece on Douchebags Vs. Stage Five Clingers would swing me many in-office interviews.

Whereas Facebook allows for friend requests, Twitter/Instagram allow for follows, and Snapchat enables adding friends by phone number and username — LinkedIn is an entirely different animal. LinkedIn operates on connections. This is similar to a friend request, but is meant to be between people you know through your job, school, or work experience. The kicker here is that once you view someone’s LinkedIn profile, they get a notification letting them know just that. So if you’re creeping on someone you just met, or trying to find out more about a Bumble match, you have to be extremely cautious. I once went out with a Bumble match, and then a couple days later decided to go look at his LinkedIn because I forgot where he said he worked and didn’t want to seem like I hadn’t really been paying attention our entire date. By the time I actually remembered that he would be able to see that I had visited his profile, it was too late. That realization hit about .25 seconds after I had clicked his name. That night, he sent me a screenshot of an email notification he had received that said: “Taylor Stovall has viewed your profile. See who else is viewing your profile,” which was accompanied by a simple text that said, “Subtle.” Beautiful.

LinkedIn wants you to use these connections to widen your network. A wise post grad is always networking. Recently I visited one of my college sorority sisters in Tallahassee, Florida. She works in the capitol, and they were wrapping up session while I was in town. The night session ended and tons of post grads clad in suits and pencil skirts who had just spent months slaving away in legislative admin positions were released into the wild known as Clyde’s Bar. A gentleman in a navy suit and undone tie approached me at the bar and proceeded to ask me out for rock climbing the next day (very bold move). I thanked him for the invite but had to decline since I was in town visiting my gal pal and was only looking to guarantee myself a hangover during my time there. This brazen young soul reached into his wallet, handed me a business card, told me to email him, and went back to his buddies. #Networking. This dude was spitting real-life LinkedIn game. Much respect.

Once you are connected to someone, you can “endorse” them for certain skills. This literally means you can go to your wildest, most depraved fraternity brother’s LinkedIn profile and endorse him for “PowerPoint.” I have had multiple people endorse me for a random assortment of things, including but not limited to: customer service, time management, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, social media, and even copywriting. Where do you people get off? The majority of my LinkedIn connections really don’t have a clue if I am capable of legal research or filing, but that hasn’t stopped some of them from publicly endorsing me for those, too. Some connections I’m connected to are people I actually don’t even know, which is my fault for accepting random requests. In short: these endorsements are not very accurate at describing my potential or skills as an employee. They don’t really paint me in any kind of light that would make me stand out amongst a pool of similar applicants. The majority of my friends and connections don’t know enough about me as an employee to be able to endorse me for any kinds of skills. If LinkedIn endorsements were accurate, they’d look like something like this:

“arrives at work every Friday morning hungover, but on time”

“sometimes brings homemade snacks to share”

“can add row or column to Excel spreadsheet”

“has experience teaching older staff members how to operate social media/email platforms”

“most competitive office bowling league team member”

“first to RSVP as ‘attending’ to all office happy hours”

“successfully Snapchats all day, every day”

“has never said no to mid-week fajitas and ‘ritas”

“investigative reporting (read: cyber stalking)”

“procrastinating but still finishing work on time”

“does what is asked of them”

“has done more than what was asked of them on at least (1) occasion”

“refills coffee pot”

“will accompany coworkers to get lunch outside of the office very once in a while”

“occasionally shares Adderall”

“always has the hottest office gossip”

“eats in break room without forcing others to engage in unwanted conversation”

“knows how to avoid ‘replying to all’ in an office-wide email”

“does not force coworkers to look at pictures of his/her pets or children”

“will not spoil Game of Thrones episodes”

“quotes a reasonable amount of Seinfeld”

These are the things that I would want to know if I was hiring someone. Jennifer in accounting who has the addy hookup? Clutch. Joe in IT who takes the bullet on a weekly basis and shows that old broad Susan how to attach a document to her email? Necessary. If I know that you can go out and get schlammered on a Thirsty Thursday but still drag your trash-ass into work come Friday morning? You’re hired. I don’t need a bunch of schmucks who are proficient in PowerPoint but bring tuna for lunch everyday and stink up the whole damn break room. I don’t care if you’re the best PowerPointer in town. I want to surround myself with able-bodied coworkers who can pick up on my George Constanza jokes and will bring the heat Lebowski- style in the office bowling league.

Oh, and if you’ve got season tix to see the Rangers, I can get with that, too. Consider yourself endorsed.

Image via Shutterstock

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