LinkedIn – How to make professional Tinder more than just a one night stand

Ella Robinson cuts through the buzzwords and headshots to come to terms with being linked out of LinkedIn.

The path from youth to true adulthood presents a number of big, unanswerable questions. 

Why don’t all those people just move out of Midsomer if people keep being murdered? 

What is an appropriate time period between washing my bras? 

What the fuck is a LinkedIn profile, and why is it such a big deal? 

Obviously, the answers to the first two questions are unknowable. They are as big a mystery as who built Stonehenge, and why my Dad insists on watching a televised snooker match.

But the third one seems more pressing the longer I am at university, and invariably, the nearer I am to finding a job and being a tax-paying, murder-watching, bra-washing adult. 

As a middle-class white woman who has faced relatively minimal hardship in her life, I enjoy talking at length about things I do not know about. LinkedIn is one of those things. I suppose it is simply corporate Tinder where, on a lonely Friday night, perhaps a few wines deep, some Human Resources manager begins swiping for a potential administration assistant for the accounts department. Its sensual. Powerful. Palpable. Love at first sight, but never overstepping the boundary because we promote a respectful workplace. The profile is clicked, or tapped, or becomes the focus of a very intense Wiccan spell. They’re contacted for a job interview, then they’re hired; Linkedin becomes the new way of looking for employment, and gaining employees. 

As a middle-class white woman who has faced relatively minimal hardship in her life, I enjoy talking at length about things I do not know about. LinkedIn is one of those things.

I talk in such disdain because, if I’m honest, I simply don’t understand what the fuss is about. For me, LinkedIn is most often mentioned by the same people who try to relate my family holiday to Metung to their annual skiing trip in the French Alps. The internet provides nothing short of a French Alp avalanche of advice in creating the perfect, best, hottest, not-at-all neurotic profile. It’s all about giving the veneer of ability, capacity, and knowledge of the best camera angles which provide a good balance of authoritative, but able to forward on a humorous email meme.  

In my traversing of the interwebs, I’ve found many number of helpful tricks and tips probably created and published by some work-experience kid from a D-grade blogging group. Upon intense synthesis and prognostication, here is the best possible advice I can provide for you. 

The photo 

Apparently this is THE most important part of your profile. What does your photo tell us about you? My photo would tell you genetics are unforgiving, and provide a pleasant but firm reminder to prioritise sleep or risk looking like the monster from H.R. Puff n Stuff.  Selfies are a no-no (although I may have to be reminded when they were a yes-yes in any professional context). 

I have also been informed that while a pic in formal wear is way over the top – unless you’re applying for the role of chief magician or professional bridesmaid – you can’t risk looking too casual. While I may deem ‘too casual’ as a t-shirt and tracksuit pants with some very suspect stains, apparently the barometer here best sits somewhere around “Chinos and a linen shirt” and “Kooky earrings and a fun dress from Gorman”.

 I recommend using something natural and recent, like the photo you and your family took at a historical mini-township, where a sepia lens and some leftover dress-ups make you look like genuine gold miners from the mid 19th century. Remind your potential employers and colleagues of the good old days, where men were men, women were women, and everyone died from the flu by age 30.

The write up 

Professional networking platforms liked LinkedIn are riddled with key terms which supposedly unlock special employability hacks like the Sims ‘motherlode’. These words are usually flung into the professional vernacular by ___. Words like ‘team-oriented’, ‘strategic’, and ‘lateral thinker’ are used when, in fact, they don’t present potential applicants for who they are, and the positions they might be after. 

Instead of “collaboration abilities”, try “won’t eat each other people’s leftover lasagne, as if it doesn’t have a named label”. 

Replace the buzz-phrase “improving the workplace” with “Will not create or tolerate bullshit, passive aggressive signs about kitchen fairies when a dirty plate is left in the sink”. 

Talking previous work experience and positions? Instead of ‘accounts assistant’, try ‘People immediately regret talking to me at parties, and I express my lacking personality through fun, overpriced socks’. 

People are busy. We’re all busy. That’s what my friends tell me when they cancel our plans three weeks running. So why lead people down the garden path? Keep it snappy, upfront, and free of kitchen fairies. 

Learn to accept defeat when you need to.

There’s no way to show your truest, most charming self without physically engaging with the company or person you wish to partner up with for our capitalistic hellride.

To put it simply, certain things are easier to sell on the internet than others. Pictures of your feet, or a handmade phone case featuring a collage of Fran Drescher’s character in The Nanny will always cast a shadow difficult to get out from.

 Trying to present the best version of yourself through a handful of photos, some appropriately scattered key words and a job history so thorough you mention the varied careers of your Sims characters is night on impossible . There’s no way to show your truest, most charming self without physically engaging with the company or person you wish to partner up with for our capitalistic hellride.

If LinkedIn is the Facebook of the professional world, the only people who will present the truest version of themselves is your A Current Affair fanatic Aunty Rita, and the chronic over-sharer you did one undergrad uni assignment with 5 years ago. It’s a realm of idealised selves, where egos rule the roost, headshots are filtered, and even that work experience kid calls himself a ‘content creator’. 

While I remain staunchly ill-informed on all matters of LinkedIn, breakfast television has shown us all that ignorance and blatant refusal to evolve should not and does not infringe on a personal right to state an opinion as fact. So if you need a profile, keep it simple, keep it honest, and so help me God keep it free of kitchen fairies.

Ella Robinson is 21 and in her first year of a Masters of Teaching at the University of Melbourne. She is also a self-appointed LinkedIn expert.

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