Can LinkedIn Help Me Find a Job?

21 Aug

There are certain things in life that strike me as existing without purpose or reason:

  • Male nipples**
  • The cast of the Jersey Shore
  • LinkedIn

The appeal of LinkedIn was a mystery to me.  I always thought, “Well, what’s the point?  I have Facebook, isn’t that enough?” Apparently it isn’t, and as one of millions of free thinkers raised in a non-conformist society, I caved to pressure and “decided” to give it a whirl.

No.

A big hairy deal has been made over the professional network LinkedIn can give you.  If you work it correctly, you may even land a job.  I don’t know how often this actually happens, but regardless, why not exhaust every option?

LinkedIn is your passport to professionalism, your way of telling the online community, “I’m here, and I promise to use social media to conduct myself with a sense of dignity and decorum befitting a young career woman.”  ThAt mEAnS nONe oF tHiS and none of “I can has job LOL!?”

I’ve noticed that most people, including me, fail to use it to its full capacity.  Instead, it seems to serve as a public wang measuring contest.  Every honor, every recommendation, every spoken language gets listed on profiles everywhere as if to say, “Go on.  Have a gander.  Peek twice if you want.  Compare your inadequacies to mine, and then force yourself to realize that well, nobody is great but me.”

But all those wangs are left flapping in the wind because no one takes initiative with their profile.  LinkedIn is not about the connections you have, but the connections you want.  It’s about who you need to know to advance your career or business.  Having your pants down for the world to admire your offerings won’t bring these people flocking to your profile.  You have to go to them.

So, stripped down to its bare-boned business structure, the site is about making it okay for you to cyber-stalk and then contact near-total strangers for personal and professional benefit.  I’m okay with the sketch-factor—I’ve been Facebook stalking for years now.  But it’s because that I, like my peers, am a champion Facebooker, I struggle with how to approach LinkedIn-stalking.

My main problem is knowing who to target.  I do have a goal in mind: I want to ultimately talk to people who work in charter schools, people involved in education reform.  On Facebook, interest in strangers is piqued by gossip alone.  On a study break, you and your friend may have an exchange along the lines, “They did WHAT with WHO WHERE?! Ohmigod, Facebook!” And you log on to put a face to the devious deeds.  Or perhaps you’re hearing about your roommate’s crush, and you want to check him out and laugh at or laud his listed interests and activities.  Really, it’s the lazy man’s get-to-know-you guide.

I guess LinkedIn is the same way, but for the career world.  It’s like a nifty little directory and guidebook of where people have been, and how you can get there yourself.  It’s just, where do you start?  Meh?  I consider myself pretty new to the site, so it’s all a mystery to me.  Hell, these observations may be totally incorrent, and you seasoned LinkedIn users may read these and go, “Wrong, no, erroneous.  Gosh, no wonder you’re unemployed, dumbass.”

In the course of writing this post, I’ve learned much more about LinkedIn as well as upped my connections.  I guess that’s the starting point.  I need to have a solid group of primary contacts, so I can scour their connections and their connections’ connections, and see if in anyone from the education world comes up.

In closing, I’d like to thank the Interwebs, for allowing me to legitimately whittle away hours of my life in front of an LCD screen under the premise of career-hunting.  Also, screw you, for giving me another attractive way to interact with people online instead of in-person.  Just kidding.  Don’t ever change.

**Unnecessary Edit 8/26: Thanks to The Oatmeal, I’ve now discovered the purpose behind man nipples.  Turns out they’re not so vestigial after all!

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