Beneath the Façade of LinkedIn Success

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We all know the benefits of LinkedIn. Branded as a modern job-searching tool, the platform is rife with job postings and professional opportunities. But beyond this, LinkedIn functions as a social network: a place to celebrate professional achievement, curate a professional profile, share invaluable career advice, and interact with recruiters and “connections.” Underpinning LinkedIn’s success, however, is the romantic—albeit, sometimes unrealistic—hope of translating online connections into tangible opportunities. 

The emphasis on success as an end, rather than a process, fuels an illusory image of success as a seamless end goal easily within our grasp.

But what is perhaps most damaging about the platform is its flawed notion of success as an end. As a fourth-year student on the brink of graduation, I find myself spending more time on LinkedIn than ever. My feed is flooded with notifications of people’s job updates, inviting me to “congratulate so-and-so for getting x job.” What LinkedIn seemingly glosses over, like other social networks, is the difficult process behind each success—the gruelling rounds of interviews, cover letter writing, networking, and relentless determination that decidedly factor into the outcome of an impressive internship or job offer. 

The narrative of success gets buried beneath the gleaming appearance of it. The emphasis on success as an end, rather than a process, fuels an illusory image of success as a seamless end goal easily within our grasp. Expectation, as the infamous “root of all heartache,” then tells us that success is simple. 

In this way, LinkedIn’s erasure of hard work leaves us feeling alone and defeated in what feels like a relentless cycle of application-rejection. 

Use their accomplishment not as a measure of your own achievements, but as a reminder of what you are working towards—what will one day be yours.

LinkedIn, like other social networks, feeds into a comparison culture. Our friends, followers, and connections flaunt their success online and the subsequent happiness it brings them, making us long to experience that feeling for ourselves. While it can be motivating to hear about so and so’s success, it can also be disheartening. The inner critic inside you might lure you into a cycle of negative thinking—wondering why you aren’t there yet, why you struggle with productivity, or have yet to make it past the second round of interviews. This is why we should take other people’s success lightly. Congratulate them without negating the hard work that undoubtedly got them there. Use their accomplishment not as a measure of your own achievements, but as a reminder of what you are working towards—what will one day be yours.

On LinkedIn, everything we don’t see is arguably the most valuable part of the job-searching process: there is so much insight to be gleaned and advice to be imparted from stories of success. Beyond LinkedIn’s recommendation that we congratulate our connections for earning a job position, it would be helpful to know how the person got there. What was the job search like? Did they have a connection? What experiences did they have that made them a stand-out candidate? Having this information would be useful to job-seekers, refocusing the dialogue on the means of success. This new narrative of success as a process would invariably benefit mental health and help us resist the toxic temptations of comparison culture. In this light, we should do our hard work justice and treat our success as more than just a prize, worthy of praise and hand-clapping emojis.

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