Who’s afraid of Linked In?

Who’s afraid of Linked In?

One of the scariest facts I’ve come across recently is that every second at least two more people get sucked into … Linked In.


The Linked In mindset is an example of social media as a tool in the workplace that assumes the anodyne characteristics of other personal communication tools (sociability, networking and to some degree social advancement (i.e. the number of marketable skills one has according to colleagues, employers, friends et al) and to a lesser degree, personability.

According to the report in the Australian Financial Times on 11 September, 2013, “every second at least two more people join in the network of 238 million members”, where the ambition is to offer a digital map of skills, uniting both workers and jobs around the world.

Critiquing this mode of human resource development centres on the transparency behind amassing such rich data that drives the $US364 million business which has had a sixfold increase in the stock price since 2011.

While Linked In notes what kind of job postings members view on your home page “Jobs you might be interested in” it also has an algorithm that factors in how often a user has changed jobs.

Ultimately the mining of information relates to the strategic policy decisions of corporate clients and an Orwellian view of the long-term reading of both an individual’s as well as an organisation’s history.  David Lewin from UCLA in the article said “certain characteristics are critical to one’s success in the workplace but are difficult to measure from a Linked In profile” has economic deterministic overtones.

Depending on the generation you were born in, Linked In also stands as an example of technology or privacy apartheid for those who prefer old-school approaches to job hunting or who have lived through a deluge of Linked In emails and have simply move on.

Crucial to analysis of Linked In is the question ‘Who am I really linking in with?’ and the perceived value of maintaining ‘electronic’ relationships with former colleagues, all the while personal information is stockpiled by a third party.

Having succumbed to its charmlessness a few months ago there has been a none stop barrage of emails – and I had one former colleague ring to notify me ever so politely that they didn’t need any further endorsements from my good self.  Slightly mortified, I’ve stopped using Linked In since.

Has reading or skimming  the article made you re-think why you are even on Linked In?  What are you views or experience on Linked In – is it something you rely on to get a new job, or is it just another ‘necessary evil in life’?



8 thoughts on “Who’s afraid of Linked In?

  1. Personally I am not particularly active on LinkedIn outside of academic groups although I am connected with and receive a decent amount of requests. I put this down largely to the use of signing in with or linking Facebook accounts and such which just suggest you should be connected with everyone you are friends with on Facebook…which kind of defeats the purpose of a separate professional social network, no? However, I do know people who get told they should update their profiles but encounter problems when they work for multiple organisations and broadcasting that fact on social isn’t necessarily a good idea.

    Honestly I hadn’t really thought about the data mining angle in regards to LinkedIn before reading this but it does seem obvious now. However, given my activity on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Foursquare and occasionally Instagram I guess I can’t really complain 🙂

  2. LinkedIn is the one social media platform I actually use (yes, I hear people cry in astonishment). I use LinkedIn for business purposes only and any information I have on LinkedIn I’m happy to share. I just hope people don’t start hijacking it for personal purposes .. go to Facebook if you want to share your personal life! No, I haven’t looked for a job on LinkedIn but I know plenty of people who have successfully secured great positions via the site.

    Like Sally above, I hadn’t really thought about the data mining aspect but, as the info I have on my site is fairly public, I don’t really mind (I think … may change my mind in the future!)

    As a final comment … great thought provoking stuff on your blog over the past few weeks … congratulations!

    • Thanks Liz for for the positive reinforcement, and thanks Sally for your contributions too. I think I am in the same boat as you Sally – until I read the article I had never really thought about it (but also had never really ‘got’ what Linked In was trying to achieve). Liz, you are the first person I know of who knows of people who’ve secured jobs through it … so that is one urban myth dismantled. I guess I shouldn’t bite the hand we are trying to blog through. I think the overall concept of Linked In sounds great, just not sure what the true cost in reality is going to be – but I might just have to be an optimist to find out!

  3. To be honest I’m surprised that someone would actually call you to stop endorsing them. Other than one instance when a colleague asked her dad to stop endorsing her on LinkedIn, public endorsement are social capital.

    Am I a LinkedIn user? Sure am, do I think it’s necessary as a marketing / communication professional to have a LinkedIn account? Absolutely, in fact it will be impossible and highly suspicious to me if you don’t.

    Am I afraid that LinkedIn is mining data? No, in fact the digital marketer in me loves the fact that they do just that. As someone who does run use LinkedIn campaign as one of the tactic for B2B marketing it’s incredibly invaluable to get an idea on who my audience is, when and what they interact with. Most of all unlike buying databases, I know that LinkedIn members are active and the data is recent, completely invaluable from a campaign’s perspective.

    • Hi YW, thanks for your comments and views. I think where we would differ in our views is 1) the definition of social capital and 2) putting the individual and their needs/wants above public perceptions of what is suitable information in the public domain. Let me explain. With the first point I wouldn’t necessarily think of public profiles on a platform as “social capital” in the traditional sense, but possibly I need to review my definition of what this is. I think the personal profiles sit in a bit of a gray area, as for me it is very private information that is allowed into a hopefully restricted public domain to people who I select. It is the restrictions or lack thereof, and the accessibility of such information that I’m wary of.

      For example, I don’t publish my entire work history on my profile, as I think that is information that should only be given in the right context: i.e. for a potential future employer. Not for someone who may know me or of me scanning my profile just for the hell of it. While I am very proud of my work history – where I have worked and what I have done, the ‘private’ me just doesn’t think that is for public sharing. If you want to get to know my history, pick up the phone and let’s meet in person and I’ll probably chew your ears of because it is ‘all about me’. I know I am old-fashioned about this, but it is just part of my personality make-up and if my family and friends have had to get use to it – well, so can everyone else. I just happened to miss out on that ‘public-sharing gene’.

      For the second point, I just have alarm bells go off (I know, bit of a running theme for me) whenever anyone says “well, if you don’t have this type of profile up for the world to inspect there must be something to hide / every single marketeer or comms person should have one.” Really? If that is the case I really need to re-evaluate my future involvement with communications, because the superficiality of it just doesn’t agree with me. To me it is people just subscribing to the most common or popular denominator (Linked In) simply because everyone else does. The herd mentality doesn’t resonate with me.

      Anyway, I am glad that there are aspects of it that you are comfortable with (i.e the data mining) and for B2B opportunities. Possibly I am working in a different environment than yours, and may well one day have to use Linked In for the purposes you’ve described above. But for now I just use it on a very restricted basis, and having learnt of the data mining aspect am more reticent than ever in using it. IMc

  4. Hi Ian,

    Finally found your blog! Anyway…funny enough, today two colleagues and I was just talking about LinkedIn. One of them asked me, do you use LinkedIn and I said, yes because I have to do a uni assignment.

    He was like to me, what’s it for? I don’t even know why I joined and all these people keep endorsing me for things and notifications keep popping up. It was obviously starting to annoy him. So I was not surprised when I read that someone actually called you to say “please stop endorsing me”.

    It’s only useful I think if the company that’s headhunting you or the company you are in or joining is social media savvy. Chances are, a lot of HR people still rely heavily on old fashion references and resume. You can call your grandma and tell her to endorse you or you can even set up multiple fake accounts to endorse yourself. There are many services out there where you can “buy” followers or get them to do things for you in the cyber world. I’m not disregarding LinkedIn as a tool. I know people who have been headhunted via LinkedIn but like I said before, I think it’s for certain industries and certain companies. It’s such an off chance that people get a job over social media (the most amazing one was someone getting a job via her twitter account, she had a job interview ON TWITTER!!!)

    How much do we trust this LinkedIn endorsement? I mean I personally find it annoying…I think my work experience and word of mouth from managers speak louder than what LinkedIn can ever do. No?

  5. Hi Lillian – I’m so glad technology worked – and you were able to find it. i seriously don’t know why it has been elusive to a few. Anyway, I like your perspective on what SM offers to those who choose to create fake accounts etc. to give more credence to their profile. It can happen with traditional HR avenues (fake references) so is also possible with SM.

    The thing is, I still don’t know of anyone who has ever been headhunted by Linked In, even though a lot of my friends use it. I agree with you – word of mouth endorsement is pretty important, the rest are just back-up tools to assist, but not rely on entirely. I would love to know what Linked In has up its sleeve to continue promoting itself now that it has been around for a few years, and most people have had some experience with it.

  6. I got LinkedIn emails almost everyday for endorsing, updating, connecting, etc. These all emails are from my personal account that I set up long time ago. It was a mistake. I did it because my friend told me to do. Turn out to be, I am an old school. I don’t like to put myself on display. Connection from LinkedIn for job? At the end, your friends are the one who recommended you. It may have more functions that I have not yet explore but definitely not for the job. I have the same question as you had “Who am I really link in with?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s