The perils of Linking In


With less than a year to go until graduation, I’ve decided to get LinkedIn.

Until now I’ve been a submarine Linked-Inner (if that’s the correct word). I don’t list any personal details on my profile, but I surface occasionally to see how everyone else’s CVs have been coming on. But with graduate job applications just around the corner it’ll shortly be time to pimp my own (sparse) CV online.

It’s a soul-destroying process, both seeing otherwise sane folk self-immolating themselves on the altar of career advancement, and repeating the feat myself.

A ‘working proficiency’ in Spanish, a friend claims? Bollocks, one thinks. I was with you when you tried to order us all a round of San Miguels and it wasn’t pretty.

I’m sceptical of many supposed personal developments listed by our academic peers. To gain “a deep understanding [of] the world of investment banking and sales and trading”, as one student at another university says he has, you might think a lengthy internship would be required. Apparently not: the student acquired the skill through completion of a ‘business game’ event run by a city firm whilst he was in sixth form. Impressive stuff. 

Or the friend who, bless her, got taken the mickey out of for the dubious claim that she acted as an “election strategy consultant” to a politician, “providing advice deduced from complex patterns of local evidence”. Delivering leaflets, I think, was what it boiled down to.

Indeed there are no prizes for modesty. Employers are unlikely to be impressed by an accurate account of what you did on that summer work experience placement – ‘gained a more thorough understanding of social media through regular consultation of my twitter and facebook newsfeed’ etc –  and so a wilfully evasive paragraph takes its place – ‘learnt about the organisation and industry mechanisms’ and such what, as if you absorbed the knowledge sitting in the office through osmosis.

It’s all very disconcerting. School and university colleagues behave very strangely on the professional networking website. Recently, shortly after I accepted the invitation of an acquaintance to ‘connect’, the chap ‘endorsed’ me for a ‘skill’. It would have been really charming if I’d been publicly recommended for ‘public speaking’, ‘organisational aptitude’ or ‘leadership’, rather than Microsoft Excel. But beggars can’t be choosers.

And then there are the school friends – long since culled from facebook – who emerge from the dead to ‘reconnect’ professionally.

It is mildly entertaining to see the morons of yesteryear profess expertise in ‘data analysis’ and ‘computational mathematics’ (using a calculator?). Also, who knew that so-and-so had made it onto The Weakest Link? Mental.

But mainly it’s just terrifying. The lab partner I had in GCSE biology who spent lessons flicking his mucus across the room in devestating projectiles is now a medical student, soon to be unleashed on the NHS. Thank God the CQC is on the case. 

I rant, of course, with the full intention of shortly committing most of these faux pas myself. LinkedIn is a buckaneering big willy market, unregulated by sanity, in which the currency is bullshit. Through the medium of management speak outrageous exaggerations are propagated, and everyone knows it. The inflationary effect of people’s CV boasts is that new entrants buy into the currency even more, leading to a bubble which – as far as I can see – is yet to burst.

Perhaps we should go the full hog and write Wikipedia profiles for ourselves; though we should probably avoid the hubris of Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP allegedly caught out for christening himself the ‘British Obama’ on Wikipedia.


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