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LinkedOut: job hunting adventures on the platform powered by cringe

As the French philosopher, Michel de Montaigne, put it: “We are more unhappy to see people ahead of us, than happy to see people behind us.”

It’s a remarkable insight. Especially as it came over 400 years before the launch of LinkedIn.

I have spent the greater part of a year on LinkedIn. Day after day, week after week; intent on finding a job.

I have learned two things during this miserable time.

1) Do not, not have a job.
2) Do not, spend the greater part of a year looking for a job on LinkedIn.

Unemployment is inconvenient. Trying to get a job on LinkedIn is tantamount to self-harm.

LinkedIn is social media with its hair ironed, shirt combed and sandwich box packed. Stern of purpose and rictus of grin, it’s a ceaseless flume of chummy molasses, with virtue signalling as the primary currency.

Spend enough time ‘on platform’ and you’ll begin to notice cult-like characteristics. It’s really quite eerie. Everyone is happy. Always happy, 100% positive, bubbling with enthusiasm. Even when people lose their job they’re happy — “I’m ready for a new adventure”, they beam.

Sorry, but when did ‘adventure’ become synonymous with ‘job’? I promise you, looking for a new job is not an adventure. There’s a good reason there’s no Indiana Jones and the Career Planning E-book.

Newcomers to LinkedIn may find the language people use a little confusing. Here’s my advice. When posting, or (as we say on LinkedIn) ‘reaching out’ to someone, try to adopt a cloying mid-Atlantic tone. Think about how Gwyneth Paltrow might write an email to her team at Goop. Liberal use of phases such as ‘my journey’ and words like ’empowerment’ and ‘frictionless’ are a good start. Don’t be afraid to show emotion, but do remember that the only acceptable emotion is ‘hyped!’ And while it is appropriate to say you are ‘buzzing with excitement’, such a statement must always come accessorised with an emoji of a bee.

If you haven’t got anything smart to say, don’t worry. My feed is full of puff-chested people saying things like “I’m a big believer in human interaction and communication”, seemingly forgetting we’ve had 130,000 years of Homo sapiens doing exactly that. Another piece of popular wisdom is “if you’re talking, you’re not listening.” Which sounds clever, until you realise that if everyone followed this advice we’d be a race of mutes.

The more of this pseudo-braininess you read, the more you realise that even the lightest kick of the tyres and the intellectual dingy sprouts a leak. And it is via such metaphorical haphazardness that we reach my next piece of advice: if you want to be poetic, go for it.

According to one tech bro in my feed: “kindness is the bridge that connects souls.” It’s the kind of line that would doubtless provoke an eye-roll from most GCSE English Language teachers. But here it is presented as professional business insight. This particular post continues for a further 398 words, keeping the whole bridge thing front and centre throughout. “Kindness bridges divides” it says, while also suggesting that “kindness is a bridge that connects people.”

What can you say, the dude loves bridges. It’s a rare example of a piece of writing that AI could have improved. Still, it prompted 775 comments. Back-slaps all round  — yay kindness!

Here’s another tip. On LinkedIn you’ll notice a lot of things referred to as ‘an experience’. This is especially true if you work in marketing. You may think that, broadly speaking, everything is an experience. Sunbathing, say. Or eating a sandwich. Or shitting in a tea cup. But in LinkedInLand an experience is only an experience if it describes something ‘consumers’ can go and do, and spend money, and post about it on TikTok.

Think Alton Towers, but without the fun rides and gardens  — in fact not like Alton Towers at all, more like a BoxPark container surrounded by vape fog, filled with paid-buy-the-hour students, joylessly shaking their logo-stamped bums to a honking EDM heartbeat, while handing out free cans of pink fizz and squabbling over who gets to go on break first.

Personally, I would classify looking for a job on LinkedIn as an experience. One I actually paid for. Falling for the ‘get hired faster, switch to premium’ patter, I duly tapped in my card details. And things did move faster. Specifically the volume of  rejection emails.

LinkedIn is all this and so much less. Remember, no one says ‘boss’ anymore, it’s ‘founder’. And if you fancy adding ‘futurist’ to your CV, just post a TechCrunch story to your feed every other day. Don’t forget to add a little post copy of your own, something that agrees so vehemently with the story that readers will think it was your idea in the first place.

I could go on. But I don’t have to.

I’ve now got a job. Finally. After almost nine months imprisoned within a giant scrolling orgy of self-promotion, I’m free. I won’t have to read any more stories that start: “I don’t usually post things like this, but I felt it was important to share”, before detailing the self-congratulatory results of a charity fun run. (I assure you, in the case of altruism vs egoism: a few minutes of LinkedIn and the prosecution can rest.)

I have survived. I’m employed again. And LinkedIn didn’t help at all  — I got my hook-up the old fashioned way, through a conversation with a real person. Evidently that does still happen.

If you are currently negatively-employed, you have my best wishes (for what they’re worth.) Job seeking can be a savagely dispiriting slog. Relentlessly re-tooling your CV and cover letters, fleeting moments of optimism crushed by a recruiter’s incompetence. Interviews that don’t go well. Interviews that go really well, but you still don’t get the job. It’s a perpetual molestation of your dignity. Really, really miserable.

But remember, never let on.

From the moment you add the ‘Open to work’ badge to your LinkedIn profile, you’re a different person. It’s time to begin the next chapter of your adventure. You are keen to learn new things. You relish fresh challenges. You’re optimistic. You’re passionate. And so very, very desperate excited.


Apologies for the non-menswear ramble. But, if you’ve waded through, you’ll have gathered I’m now employed, a consequence of which is that I’m again able to spend money irresponsibly on clothing I don’t need.

When the sales landed a week or so ago, I jumped on this Sacai top. I’ve wanted one of their weird sweatshirt/MA-1 hybrids for years and the job offer came at exactly the right time. It was over at End, £440 originally, down to £250. I had a £100 End gift voucher left over from Christmas, so by buying it, I was basically earning money. Not in a literal sense of course. More in a non-sense.

The shoes are another new addition. They’re by Jacques Solovière Paris. I saw them over on Matches and was blown away by the correspondent finish, the chunky sole and, most crucially, the monk strap  – you don’t often see a loafer with a monk strap. My girl’s generosity made them mine.

I like to think the look captures the befuddlement of a man finally unchained from a ceaseless hamster wheel of despair, self-doubt and pictures of people wearing bad suits at awards ceremonies.


  1. Johnny

    Splendid bit of writing there Steve.

    I hated LinkedIn. I deleted it awhile ago for exactly these types of airheaded statements.

    Glad you’re working again

  2. Thanks very much, glad it resonated. Everyone I know that uses LinkedIn tells me they hate it and find it cringe. It’s just a hoop people have to jump through these days. Sad that, as a race of beings, this is where we’ve ended up.

  3. Mike

    Great read! I was wondering how you were getting on – glad you found something…Hope it’s going well, enjoy!

  4. coljay

    Glad you got the job. Hope everything is going well. But you know, buy stuff. Make us laugh.

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