I recently interviewed a candidate for an open position here at Trumpet. The candidate was extremely bright and well-spoken — I was impressed. So, like a responsible professional, I started snooping around on social media.
I found a pretty dull Facebook feed, and the same for Instagram — though I wasn’t hiring this person to be a photographer. Where I was really hoping to glean some insight into their professional stance was on LinkedIn, but I came up empty-handed. It confirmed a lot of what I already knew, but told me nothing new.
It’s really difficult to find an in-depth history of a person’s updates on LinkedIn. There’s a not-so-easily spotted ‘Recent Activity’ button hidden in a drop-down menu, which gives you about a month of history, but there isn’t a personal page or feed to be found. Which means a LinkedIn profile page is really just a resume on steroids. Sure, blogs and thought-leadership pieces published on the LinkedIn platform are easily accessible on the profile page, but any other recent updates authored on other platforms or sites are suppressed. As a result, I never found the fleshed-out professional persona I was looking for.
It’s no small irony that the social media platform primarily used for business helped me the least in my professional cyberstalking endeavor. It also made me rethink my stance regarding where the blame lay for the erosion of quality content on LinkedIn.
Whether you post something enlightening or mind-numbing on LinkedIn, it essentially vanishes once it cycles through the feed, freeing the user from accountability for the quality of that content. Which is how we get a feed full of math problems and rehashed inspirational quotes slapped on top of a picture of Leonard DiCaprio by way of Wolf of Wall Street.
I’d chuckle as other members protested that these posts had no place on LinkedIn, because I realize the content on social media is user-driven. So, really, everyone’s opinion is invited to the party — even the tasteless, uninspired and unoriginal.
When those disgruntled members wrote opinion pieces discussing why they were leaving LinkedIn or how LinkedIn needed to do something to fix its content problem, I started to think: What can LinkedIn do, short of deleting all the idiots?
I propose a solution: To prompt user accountability and start offering real value, LinkedIn should serve up a personal, curated collection of professionally focused activity, articles, blogs and images posted by each user. (Which, ideally, would have included the candidate I interviewed.) With posts aggregated in a more permanent, public-facing way, users will likely begin to serve up more carefully considered content, and fewer pictures of Leo.