What LinkedIn means to paranoid employers (Week 10)

I’ve worked for the same company for seven years.  Before that, I worked at my previous employer for eight years.  It should be fairly clear that I’m a stable, loyal employee.

Our company had to lay off 50% of our workforce in June of 2011.  It was a terrible day, because we are a very small company and our employees are a pretty tight bunch.  I joined LinkedIn around that time to keep in touch with those who were let go and to see what kind of new jobs they subsequently found.  Somehow, the senior company management caught wind that I had a new profile on what they considered to be a job-search website, and they questioned me about it within a few weeks of my joining.  Why was I looking for a new job? Did I need to talk? Was there a particular individual layed off that I disagreed with?

At least I got a free therapy session out of the deal.

Considering that was over a year ago, they are likely over it by now and realize I was honest in my reasoning behind creating an account on LinkedIn – that I simply cared about the people who were let go and wanted to see when they found new employment.

Apparently, a lot of people are annoyed by LinkedIn, judging by the 44% statistic at http://amplicate.com/hate/linkedin .  Of course, this link should probably be taken with a grain of salt, since it seems to be a message board for complaints.  Their complaints are relevant, though, especially those involving incessant e-mails from the company.  Since joining LinkedIn, I get e-mails several times a week asking if I know certain people or telling me I should update my profile.  To be quite honest, I’m hesitant to add contacts or add details to my profile because then the newly-added contacts receive e-mails telling them I’m expanding my network or that I’ve updated my information. My employer’s paranoia has made me paranoid, and I’m worried that another red flag will be raised and I will be considered “on my way out the door” at work.  Maybe this would have a positive impact, and I’d get a raise or added benefits if they don’t want to lose me, but it’s probably more likely that I’d be considered disloyal.

The benefits of LinkedIn are fairly obvious to those actively looking for work or who work on a consultant basis.  Those individuals need to create a large network and get the word out about their skills and what they can offer as an employee or consultant.  Those of us with steady jobs, though, need to understand that from some employers’ perspectives, LinkedIn looks like a great website for headhunters and people “exploring their options.”  Industries involving aspects of security requirements, employees in whom companies have invested time and money to train, intellectual property concerns and the like foster employees with incredible value, and they obviously don’t want them to go anywhere.  I suppose LinkedIn could be seen as a threat to companies wanting to retain their workforce.

Posted on November 3, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I think it is strange that a company that lays off a portion of its workforce is surprised that the remaining team is expanding their network! Wouldn’t that be a wise move for those folks at that point in time?! It seems much more is expected of the employees than the employer in this particular scenario. This makes me think of Bob’s post this week:

    “As we have all probably noticed, there isn’t much in the way of corporate loyalty. Layoffs are a regular occurrence and sites like LinkedIn can help to level the playing field for employees. If companies can walk away from their employees at a moment’s notice, it’s only fair that employees should have the same freedom.”

    Possibly you connecting with your MSTPC classmates is the next reason for needing to freshen your LinkedIn page! 😉

  2. I have to admit, your concerns about appearing disloyal to your employer for joining LinkedIn were something that hadn’t occurred to me before. I would guess your employer’s reaction has a lot to do with the corporate culture and unfamiliarity with the site in general. (And I’m sure there are many others out there like that.) On LinkedIn, I’ve connected with my direct supervisors as well as senior management–and none of us seem to think anything of it. Of course, if I was seeking another opportunity I wouldn’t advertise that, but there are a lot of other beneficial reasons to use the site.

    • I hadn’t thought of this either, but I have my ivory tower to use as an excuse 🙂
      Seriously, though, it’s eye-opening to me that your senior management questioned you about your account. But perhaps it’s good that they did rather than make assumptions about you leaving? This is an intriguing topic to explore further, if allowed!

      • I think I’d like to use something like this as my final paper topic since I love the subjects of business and management… Social Media Through the Eyes of an Employer?

        • Sure thing! I know some employers don’t like to be interviewed for academic papers, but if you can get your bosses to agree, go for it!

  3. I freaked my boss out in exactly the same way a few years ago. I think that with the economy being what it is, that no one bats an eye anymore. In fact it might be comforting for some managers to know that their employees are prepared if they do get cut.

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