To LinkedIn or LinkedOut?

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Lianne Frick/Staff

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“Ani, people are looking at your LinkedIn profile.”

Easily one of the most anxiety-inducing email subject lines, right next to “New CARS monthly eBill is available.”

Most of us have figured out how to privatize our online selves. Private Facebook accounts, secret Finsta pages, all in the effort to maintain a controlled presence in the Interwebs.

But now, we’re asked to go in the opposite direction. It’s not enough to have a neutral, uncontroversial presence online — we must also go beyond to create professional personas. And that’s where LinkedIn comes in.

I’m going to be as transparent as possible: I have a LinkedIn myself. I fought the good fight, but I also quickly realized that when pursuing journalism as a career, it’s important to make and have connections. Whether or not LinkedIn is the best place to do this is still up for debate.

My own profile was inspired and formatted by my friend and recent UC Berkeley graduate, Sergio Saucedo. Now a junior analyst at Optimum Media Direction, I asked what he thought of LinkedIn, and he replied that while he sees it as an important resource in helping people gain meaningful connections in relevant companies and industries, its job-seeking features are lacking. Nonetheless, he got his current job when a recruiter messaged him on LinkedIn asking if he was interesting in marketing science.

After making my account, some of my friends argued that I was a sellout, that I was partaking in an increasingly superficial culture of professionalism with more barriers to entry and fewer real opportunities. Others shrugged off my inquiries about whether or not LinkedIn was a worthwhile endeavor, knowing that their surefire path to medical school needn’t be inhibited with posts and profiles (I’m looking at you, Nazar).

Another friend, Gabriel Davtyan, a senior studying philosophy at UC Berkeley, said he thought LinkedIn’s influence was blown out of proportion. While it could give individuals another avenue to market themselves, it’s more of a socially reinforced phenomenon that won’t make or break the job-hunting process.

How this well-intended platform became the bane of every college student’s existence is a phenomenon I can only explain through my own observations. I believe this stems from one common source: our anxieties in knowing that our time here is limited and thinking the world beyond will be demanding and unforgiving. So we try to do the most and best we can in the meantime to make ourselves presentable: don a stiff blazer and take some headshots, fill our résumés with buzzwords and spend more time than we can afford volunteering.

Pressure exists from every avenue. If it’s not LinkedIn, it’ll be something else, because the competition for our dream jobs gets more difficult every year.

So this begs the questions: Do you really need a LinkedIn profile? Do employers really look at it?

Web searches with these questions reveal mostly dated articles with conflicting results. There seems to be consensus, however, on a few points — that it depends what career path you’re pursuing, and if you do decide to have a LinkedIn, keep it polished and updated.

The only confident conclusion I can come to is that LinkedIn, as with every other platform, may not be entirely necessary, but it is what we make of it.

Now, my profile mostly collects dusts until I remember to update it every six months or so.

 

Ani Vahradyan covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.