Linked Out

Two things I read this week prompted me to pen this post – the first was reading about Winnie’s potential redundancy on her Quietly Saving blog, the second about the slagging off social media gave Linkedin when it was announced Microsoft was buying them. “Linkedin is Facebook for ugly people”, was one tweet that made me smile. Sathnam Sanghera writing in The Times had a pithy quote ready too: “Facebook makes you hate people you know, Twitter makes you like people you don’t know and LinkedIn makes you hate yourself”, he quipped.

Obviously I wish Winnie well, not the least because she’ll probably be using LinkedIn over the next few weeks! I’ve been through the mill of something similar to redundancy, although If I’m honest, I was bulleted at my work. At the same time, however, I was totally guilty of putting the gun in my employer’s hands and pleading with them to shoot me (and pay me the insurance). All the same, I was suddenly no longer employed, even if I was telling myself, “So what, I’m retired!”

Ah, if only life were so simple as to let me retire in peace. For me, after a length of time (about two months) I came to the realisation that the retirement life wasn’t sitting all that comfortably with me and I started thinking about returning to work. This meant, amongst other things, that I needed to use the services of LinkedIn.

Previously, when I’d been employed, I felt LinkedIn was exactly the same as what many people think – it’s just a Facebook for business. It was a potential distraction for nosey people and idle boasters who’d clearly not much to do with their time. But, like Facebook, you kind of had to keep an eye on it because there was some good stuff out there – I might have totally missed a great night out at an old work reunion if I hadn’t had a LinkedIn account, for example. Like Facebook, I was half-interested in what the service offered and could take it or leave it.

Once unemployed, however, LinkedIn became something that I felt I had to get along with, like it or not. Everyone I spoke to told me so. When I chatted to headhunters, it was inevitably the first question out of their mouths. “Have you updated your Linkedin profile?” Several offered to beef up or fine tune my paltry entry; one told me to change my picture (the cheeky bastard); some told me it was essential that I post something on the “wall” every day, if only to remind everyone I was still alive – a recipe that can only ensure that you become one of the drones posting business cliches or articles you hope may make you sound intelligent to people who barely know you. Like it ever could. Worse, however, you suddenly find out that people you do know are actually doing this and – even more depressing – the worst offenders tend to be those looking for work! Especially self-employed “consultants”, a job direction that I thought I might be taking on myself at some point.

Pretty quickly I found I was dreading clicking into my LinkedIn account. I felt like it was judging me when I saw how well almost everyone else was doing in actively networking, “linking” up with new and old friends, acquaintances and companies with gay abandon. Meanwhile I felt I was lurking quietly at the back of the room, slating the process while kind of wishing I was more a part of it.

What was it with me? Was I too old for this kind of facile activity? Did I resent the position I found myself in and therefore resented LinkedIn as part of an uneasy process? Why did I feel a bitter bile rise in my throat as I read yet another “Be all you can be”, posting from some schmuck I barely knew? Was I one of the management dinosaurs that I used to see at work where some senior people could barely use e-mail and were terrified of the unknown (e.g.Twitter)? Why couldn’t I recognise this thing as the asset in the job hunt that everyone told me it was?

I don’t have the answer, to be honest, but I stopped using it. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter – they’re not real life, are they, and you can so easily get by without any of them. Job hunting, on the other hand, really is real life, and one thing I have found to be true (or at least I think to be true) is that if you want to find a job then you really, really have to look for one. Ten minutes on LinkedIn won’t cut it. Neither will a ten minute call to an old colleague count as your networking for the day. Penning one “speculative” letter a day to a prospective employer won’t enhance your prospects either.

So what will? I think that all you can do is find a strategy that sits comfortably with you and work it: spend pretty much all day on Linkedin if it suits you, or all day phoning colleagues, or all day writing and sending speculative letters. Or all day using a mixture of every job hunting tool you can find. That way, I bet you won’t be out of work for long.

14 thoughts on “Linked Out

  1. I’ve mixed feelings about Linkedin. On the one hand I was contacted through it and offered 3 1/2 years of extremely lucrative contract work, enough to bring forward FIRE by 10 years. On the other hand the interface, and particularly the filtering, is dreadful, you’d never think they spend $1bn a year on R&D on the site to present you with puff and pointless updates. I just invited all my friends to follow me, so I could idly follow what jobs they did away from the pub, and was much amused when they endorsed me for my skills (Eric thinks I’m an expect in supercomputing, but he’s a librarian!)

    Its full of pushy people, and my friends are only pushy in those 3 months spells when trying to get a new job, so I find it a pain.

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  2. I have the same issues with LinkedIn as I have with other social networks: they give away too much about my personal life. LinkedIn has to be the worst offender, as we voluntarily give away a lot of personal information (as we would in a resume, but even more) in the hope of getting hired somewhere.

    I deleted a bunch of stuff from LinkedIn once some people online started putting 1 and 1 together and connect my internet persona to my real life, which I don’t want to happen (one reason being that my blog talk a lot about quitting my job soon, and I don’t want my employer, colleagues, or potentially friends and family to find out about it – or my wealth goals)

    with that being said, LinkedIn is the only social network where I still have a personal account, because I think it does have value for professional networks

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  3. Anyone on a FIRE journey has to be very careful about their employer finding out. I feel I’m exposing too much just talking in these forums as ‘John B’, but my disregard for my employer means I’m prepared to take the risk.

    It is said the young are happy to share, and honest on all the forms they fill in, I wonder if they haven’t been burnt by information leakage yet.

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  4. I early retired 3 months ago (@ age 49) and have been enjoying it. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn yet, but figure I will get around to it at some point. I had a big title with a big company and my ego is keeping me updating it for now. Does this mean you are hoping to head back to work? What is it about early retirement that wasn’t working for you? (If you already posted on this – sorry if I missed it).

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  5. Hi Jim
    Thanks for the kind wishes.
    I’ve not made a move on my LinkedIn account yet – in fact, I’ve not updated it since I joined it in 2005 (apart from change my profile pic) – I can’t say I log in very often, occasionally use it to keep in touch with ex-colleagues who weren’t ‘friendly’ enough to be on Facebook. Also, the odd ex-boyfriend is on there too, haha! 😉

    I will be making an effort to update it because as you say, it’s something that is used these days and some of my friends have found work successfully via LinkedIn, so it’s worth updating it.

    I’m not inclined to be posting daily or anything like that though – that’s just as bad as people who post daily on other types of multi-media.

    Plus I can’t say that using it exclusively for my job hunting sits comfortably with me.

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    • Hi Weenie, although I’m taking a bit of a swing at LinkedIn I would admit that it is quite an important part part of the job hunting process. As a couple of people have commented, connections potential interviews can come via this site and that has been my experience too.

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  6. I used to work in an office next door to a recruitment firm and their office drones were on Linked-In all the time searching for people (presumably looking for specific skills/backgrounds). I also know that Linked-In gets nearly all its revenue from recruitment firms. Therefore I would assume that a good Lined-in profile can only help finding a job, unless you are going to be sitting in the board room

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  7. Hi Jim,

    Whilst I have a linked in profile, the only time I update it is when I change jobs, but I dont put any detail in there as to what I have done, it just has my employment history, and a short snap about me to get people interested – that way if a recruiter is interested they contact me (as has happened for my latest role). Previous roles have all been via existing contacts so not needed them – I personally dont put too much weight on linkedin its irritating and becoming more of a facebook rubbish, but I would say its essential to have something on there as its the first thing I look at when a CV lands for me to review!

    I would also share others concerns about blogging about FI and being able to link to you is dangerous, – I would say thats why I dont blog, but in reality its more that I dont think I have anything to offer so just happy to read and comment 🙂

    Good luck!

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    • Hi Rob, as I mentioned above it was only when I left employment that I felt I could start my blog. I think you’re right to be cautious as my firm were increasingly sensitive about what employees were posting on Facebook and Twitter and did keep an eye on it. Nothing intense, but I felt that this “surveillance” could only increase going forward and, to be honest, thought it was relatively sensible that the company were generally aware of this aspect of modern employment.

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  8. I found my current job via LinkedIn so cant complain. Networking around my ex work colleagues didnt work. Either they dont want to work with me (or recommend me) because I am S* at my job – or there just wasnt anything going that they wanted to put me forward for. ( I am a bit bored of my job role 😦 could do with a career change but have found nothing inspiring)

    Anyhow recruiters would just throw jobs at me and I would go through them like vetting CVs and would pick and choose the interviews I wanted to attend. Took ages to find a job even after interview but it does help to get you noticed…

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