Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid looks at LinkedIn

Confessions

It’s rare for me to log on to LinkedIn when I am in the office because unless you are looking for a job or touting for business, it really isn’t all that interesting. However, now I’ve got the app on my phone, I do look, mainly because I keep forgetting to turn off the notifications. The latest distracting ping is an invitation to connect from a most unexpected source: Creepy Caroline. You may remember that Caroline was my nemesis at work. She stole ideas and plagiarised my presentations. And worse: she talked over me in meetings. Hiss. I could only be pleased when she moved on. And here she is getting in touch after several years. It’s odd. Decidedly odd.

This is not the first time I’ve been surprised by liked this. The Termagant, a hateful manager at a previous employer, keeps asking me to connect. I am already linked to most people in that company, certainly everyone in her team not to mention two levels above her, but will I connect with her? Never. You could say this is a career mistake, but I say this: her behaviour will be hers.

Jobs listings

Now recruiters are saving advertising costs by posting jobs directly on their feed, I am in a quandary. I want to help them out by spreading the word, but I don’t want appear ingratiating. I have plenty of other LinkedIn friends and interests too, but frankly the posts are all a bit too dull to even casually press ‘like’. It is bad enough having to be at work and to do work, without having to read and post about it online as well.

You can tell when someone has been made redundant or is looking for a change of scene – they suddenly get all active online. They update their photo and request recommendations. They reach out to the most spurious of contacts. All that does is make me very reticent online myself. I know I need to update certain things on my own profile, but I don’t want anyone to think I am desperately looking for work. But then again, if I don’t do it now I might have to do it when I am desperate for work, which would be cringing. Perhaps I am overthinking it.

Visionary leadership

While I am logged in, I have a little snoop around. Big Bad Boss has a very shiny and up-to-date profile. Oh dear. Is he looking for another role? Much as he disappoints me on a daily basis, he is the devil I know. I examine his posts. The only things he has shared are articles by other Higher Beings in the company, especially his own manager. He forwards them on with sycophantic little recommendations, ‘great article about visionary leadership from one of the best…’ he says. Puke.

I notice all the Higher Beings on the executive management team post and repost nonsense about visionary leadership more than anything. Disgusted, I go back to my own feed. It’s not much better. There is some guy from a benefits technology company posting a video every 30 seconds. Surely it won’t help sales of his gadgets if everyone gets so fed up of him they block his posts? Slow down. Sales people seem to be the worst for littering my news. They are always ‘excited’ to be doing something or going somewhere (presumably sell things) and they are constantly ‘proud’ of stuff going on at work (like a lot of things getting sold). Please.

Another connection, Deirdre, mostly likes posts about stress at work and how employers should treat employees better if they care at all about employee engagement. The mere fact that she keeps appearing in that context makes her appear passive-aggressive and that’s before she adds drama with comments like ‘Yes, I find it a very toxic environment in manufacturing, particularly since my divorce’ and ‘My counsellor says I should stand up to the bullies in office’. Doesn’t she realise that all potential employers and recruiters can see this, let alone her current boss and bullying colleagues? There is an argument to call these things out, not here. Better to deal with issues at work directly and keep it light online, Deirdre.

Choosing to connect

I liked it when LinkedIn was just a place to keep tabs on your former employers and colleagues. If I want to look at videos to feel guilty about plastic, or hear about someone’s sporting triumph, there are better places to go. Now on LinkedIn, just like on other platforms, I am forced to wade through all this chatter. Communication is all well and good, but would everybody just hold it down a bit please? Even more, I hate the pressure to compete with all the rampant exhibitionism. Take Creepy Caroline. I risk a peek at her profile because she doesn’t have premium membership, which gives access to who has been stalking you. She has a list of thought leadership articles she has written, all visionary no doubt. She has affiliations and boards she belongs to. She has awards and prizes. She belongs to a zillion networking groups. I feel tired just looking at it.

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I still haven’t decided whether to connect. Caroline carefully collates what she reposts, mostly adding sickly comments on their visionary leadership to stuff written by senior connections. Just lately, she has reposted a number of ads run by recruiters. So, it is as I suspected: she is looking for another role and got in touch merely to widen the web of contacts to potential employers. If I do connect with her what good will come it? Is she likely to comment positively on my visionary leadership? I don’t think so.

Next time… Candid considers mental health at work.