Why I should have updated my LinkedIn page before today.

I don’t work as a technical communicator. Because of my background, my wonderful supervisors will give me projects that they have no desire to do, but which are endlessly fascinating to me because they allow me to flex my writing muscles a bit. But, as a hobby, I also spend a great deal of time applying and interviewing for Technical Communication positions. You know, because it is fun.

I have had a LinkedIn account for a long time, but I never took the time to really figure out how the system worked or to actually make my profile helpful. I have to admit that before today, I hadn’t even updated it to include the MSTPC program. Marshall and Maggiani would be ashamed of me, as I have almost no contacts in LinkedIn. Moreover, I am probably not helping myself by not using LinkedIn as a resource.

It is interesting, however that Qualman and Marshall and Maggiani seem to expect that their readers are already well established in their fields. In Socialnomics, Qualman particularly aims his advice toward people with extensive lists of accomplishments. It makes me wonder how helpful LinkedIn is for entry level job seekers. Qualman’s only real advice to those without a list of articles mentioning them seems to be to make sure that there are no stains on your name by searching for yourself and making sure that there are not compromising material related to you.

In light of the idea of having a clean online image, it is interesting to think about these tools in the context of Longo’s discussion on culture in Digital Literacy for the Technical Communicator. She explores the idea of community as it relates to an electronic environment. One of her points is that there is no such thing as an all inclusive community with complete diversity of thought, because community is necessarily predicated upon the inclusion of certain type and the exclusion of those who fail to meet the criteria required for participation within the group. Ultimately, in order to have an overarching and universal understanding, a group must sacrifice individuality.

I wonder how much this impacts the job seeker. An online image must be pristine and conform to the expectations of the prospective employer. It is interesting because you are supposed to load your LinkedIn profile with things that make you stand out, but only in a certain way. I do wonder if all our social media will ultimately do us all a disservice by forcing us to conform to a standard that leaves no room for individuality or diversity, as a prospective employer may not see your online activity as beneficial to them, even if it is not actually wrong or even compromising.

However, no matter the effect it has on us culturally, there remains the reality that LinkedIn will likely continue to become increasingly important in the job market. And it is a resource that will be immensely useful if it is managed correctly.

So, I need to go and finish updating my LinkedIn profile now.

Posted on November 3, 2013, in Social Media, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I noticed what you mentioned about Qualman and his advice being geared towards those with pretty established resumes. Still, I think you can market yourself as an entry level or near-entry level candidate. Not all employers will be looking for talent just at the top of the payscale. (I would think , but admittedly, I’m no expert!)

    I found your discussion of “conformity” interesting. In the old days, it would have been a non-issue to keep your public record clean since most of what we were during on our off-time was never recorded electronically much or the topic of too much discussion (except maybe water cooler gossip). Now, it seems that every moment of our waking (and sleeping?) lives is subject to scrutiny by HR offices, which is discomfiting and, I suppose, will lead to a certain degree of conformity as you say.

    But, as you point out, the time is upon us and not going to roll backwards, so we better get our Linked In updated!

  2. Your discussion about community and its relation to the electronic environment is interesting and thought provoking. If a person has to sacrifice individuality to be a part of a community, then what does that say about the community? It does not sound like a accepting form of community, and I have to wonder how much a person loses when sacrificing self to be a part of a larger group in an effort to avoid exclusion. Is this a genuine community?

  3. I share the same concerns as you for my online presence. I want to be able to present myself for who I am, and I don’t want to have to conform to a standard. Conforming too much seems like it would do a disservice to both the applicant as well as the recruiter. The applicant would not stand out from the crowd in a meaningful way and might not get the attention their profile deserved, and the recruiter would have to slog through numerous profiles that all looked vaguely familiar, searching for a metaphorical diamond in the rough.
    I guess I will have to consider which impression I want to give, if I ever choose to join LinkedIn.

  4. I agree that online presence needs to be professional and LinkedIn is not a site to post about what you did on the weekend…unless it’s a conference for your work experience!

    I do wonder though if people think only having a clean image on LinkedIn will be enough. For example, someone could have a Facebook page that has a profile picture of them partying, yet a completely professional LinkedIn page. I think that people that care about their online image need to make sure they relay a consistent message.

  5. See my comment on Lisa’s post too, but I have heard more and more job recruiters and people at professional conferences ask, “Are you on LinkedIn?” with it sounding almost as important as “What’s your GPA?”

    In fact, the GPA question came up at the university’s career conference. I had never required undergrads to list their GPA on their resume, but these recruiters all stated that if they didn’t see the GPA, they assumed the student had something to hide and that the resume would be discarded.

    So updating the LinkedIn profile and maintaining it as a professional space seems to be the takeaway here! 🙂

    Oh and feel free to connect with me: http://www.linkedin.com/in/daisypignetti/

  6. You make a lot of great points. I too wonder if LinkedIn is helpful for jobseekers seeking entry level positions or only for people who already are well connected and settled in a career. If it’s not helpful for entry level job seekers, that could explain my company’s lack of success finding entry level candidates using LinkedIn as a recruiting tool.

    It does seem rather paradoxical and hard to reconcile that we are supposed to make ourselves stand out while conforming to the standard LinkedIn norms. Perhaps this is why there is so much literature geared toward guiding us newbies in portraying ourselves.

    • I think LinkedIn is for all levels. It is a networking tool. A lot of our college aged nieces and nephews have joined are have asked us to be connected with them.

      Like one of our articles this week said, asking a connection to make an introduction to a potential employer is really only successful if that connection already has pull or clout with that company or hiring manager. A younger (entry level) person may not have a lot of upper level connections to make this happen but building that network on LinkedIn might be easier than trying to do it in person.

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