An introduction to LinkedIn
By Brittney MacDonald, Life & Style Editor
If you follow my writing, you may already know that I am currently in the process of finding a new job. It isn’t because I’m in any dire straits, I just decided one of my goals for the year is to get a better job more related to my desired field—I have distinct and terrifying nightmares of working retail for the rest of my life.
In my quest to become a more accomplished freelance writer, I have attempted to tackle probably the most difficult task in recent memory: I have set up a LinkedIn profile.
Some of you may be confused by my aversion to LinkedIn. I don’t blame you—you’re probably socially well-adjusted humans who get along well with other people. I am not. If I had my way, I would be a hermit living in a tower somewhere with a thousand cats, only venturing into the outside world in order to get coffee. Alas, that is not my fate—not yet anyway.
Networking in general, though necessary for many careers, is horribly intimidating. So, as with most things that scare me, I avoided LinkedIn like the plague. Unfortunately, being as many of the jobs I want to apply for require a LinkedIn profile, I had to muster up the courage to actually make one. Stupid personal betterment.
So now I stand—or rather, sit in my office chair—having gotten over my fears and actually climbed that hurdle. As someone now on the other side, I can say with certainty that it honestly wasn’t as hard as I hyped it up to be. My general impression of LinkedIn is that it’s an even more disassociated version of Facebook. Basically, you make your profile—which takes a good chunk of time, since it is basically your entire resume. Upload a not-horrible photo of yourself and start trying to make connections with people.
The site has some general features. People can endorse skills that you’ve listed, or they can comment in the form of recommendations. These essentially act as basic references. However, the profile itself requires very little maintenance. Just check it every once in a while to keep up-to-date with connection requests and address any messages people might be sending you.
Honestly, the most difficult part of the entire process was inputting all the previous job and education experience. It takes a lot of time because the system cannot parse it from a resume document—which is pretty low-tech if you ask me. It is a time sink, but I say it is probably worth it. Not because I suddenly have employers beating down my door (I don’t). However, LinkedIn has become one of those weird things where if you don’t have one listed on your resume, people question why.
What is so wrong with you that you don’t have a visible career network? Uh, nothing—schmoozing just makes me feel all dirty. This makes LinkedIn perfect for people like me because it is networking without having to actually interact with anyone. The people making connections with me already know me and what I am capable of. I don’t need to be impressive—something I am terrible at in person. Instead, future bosses can find me through people they already know are competent. Or they can see the varied personalities I have worked with previously and can decide for themselves if I could possibly fit what they’re looking for.
Finding a good job anywhere is difficult, let alone in an expensive city like Vancouver. So, don’t handicap yourself—set up your own LinkedIn if only to give yourself as many possible chances as you can.