Shameless Work Influencers Are the Bane of LinkedIn
The professional networking platform showcases everything gone wrong with the attention economy
A little over a year ago, as the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic began to sink in, people began losing their jobs. The losses were swift and historic, with a quarter of adults in the U.S. reporting they or someone in their household had been laid off by October 2020.
And while the hardest hit were those in the service industry — cooks, waiters, bartenders, cleaners, and hotel staff, to name a few — large numbers of “knowledge workers” also found themselves unemployed. College seniors, many of whom had hoped to begin careers in entry-level roles in fields like marketing or sales, were faced with a dispiriting job market full of better qualified and desperate applicants. For many of these knowledge workers, their job search took them to one place: LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the social network for “professionals,” a term that in practice mostly refers to white-collar workers — people who sit (or stand) at desks and whose tools are generally of the software variety.
For context, I was a pretty infrequent LinkedIn user until about a year ago. Then, due to a new job, I ended up getting immersed in the platform, following influencers, connecting with acquaintances, and generally absorbing the milieu of the site. Thus, I joined the millions of workers whose paths led them to LinkedIn last year.
It’s worth asking what they found there.
The first thing you need to understand about LinkedIn is that you will either find it immensely appealing or achingly unbearable, depending on your views regarding social media, attention, work, and life in general.
Many people love it; many people (myself included) hate it. Often for the same reasons.
Off the bat, LinkedIn looks like a job-seeker’s paradise. The job search algorithm is solid and, at least in my experience, turned up plenty of relevant jobs. Recruiters can easily find and reach out to people who match a job description on the site, and by keeping a profile up-to-date and “active” (I’ll get to that bit later), you’ll probably end up with at least an occasional message…