As graduation is getting closer, and I am forced to consider a “real” life after college, there’s one word that I can’t shake out of my mind: job. While “loan,” and “adult” are also high contenders, I’m finding myself increasingly thinking about what the hell I’m going to be doing for a living.
In the process of stressing out about all of this, I’ve started using LinkedIn, a website that is best described as Monster smashed together with Facebook. Sure it offers some really useful tools like hosting a spot to showcase your abilities and your resume. You can also become a part of groups that are relevant to your field and seek out potential jobs. Moreover, LinkedIn shows just how much we are defined by those we know, especially in terms of today’s job market.
One of the major parts of LinkedIn is connection with others. Past employers, fellow employees, family members, and college friends all add up to make your network. You can see what they’re doing, where they work, and who they know. It’s a very socialized version of job hunting, visually revolving around people instead of skills or job titles.
While I do think it’s healthy to put faces to resumes, it’s a weird environment.
Just like any other social networking site, you’re selling yourself. LinkedIn is your own arena to make yourself look as employable and knowledgeable as possible and to show how many people you know.
What are interesting to me are the differences between LinkedIn and other social networking sites. As with Facebook, users of LinkedIn can post things of interest, have a profile picture, and get updates about their connections.
When I first started using the site, however, I felt strange using the same practices as I would on Facebook. I didn’t want to use my same profile picture. Why? It’s not like my Facebook makes me out to be a crazy college party animal; in fact, I look pretty subdued in my photo, but for some reason, it just didn’t seem professional enough to use as my picture on LinkedIn. What am I supposed to use the posting for? On Facebook, I usually post articles about politics or videos that satirize the whole situation. I might send someone a link to an irrelevant cute cat picture or post my photos from a recent trip. Does any of that seem like a good idea on LinkedIn? No. So what do I do with this feature?
Funny how function of a website – even within the parameters of social networking – determines how we use and perceive it. It was also funny to see how hard all of my peers try to sell themselves. Yes, that’s the point of the game, but that doesn’t make it any cooler to play it.