You need LinkedIn

If you are not on LinkedIn or your LinkedIn profile is bad, you are hurting yourself.

This is a bold statement and for several months I have wavered back and forth, wondering if I should say it. As I watched the updates to LinkedIn as a platform and continue to hear smart people talking about the platform’s power, I quickly realized my perspective was not wrong; it was just ahead of what others I work with, including the majority of my clients, think.

They are wrong.

This sounds arrogant so to hedge myself a bit, I will say that LinkedIn is not for everyone. If you do not care about finding and/or sustaining a career then LinkedIn is not for you. You get a pass. Anyone else, you need to be on LinkedIn and your profile needs to be nurtured.

LinkedIn is quickly becoming the go-to source for anyone in the professional world who wants to find out things about other people inside and outside of their professional sphere. If you are a dental hygienist, that can mean a potential employer scanning your profile or it could mean me doing the same thing before a check-up because I want to gain some familiarity with the person about to spend 45 minutes while their hands are in my mouth.

LinkedIn is amassing data in mindboggling amounts and is doing very little with it… yet. (I do not need to hear any B.S. about data collection because if you are reading this, Google or Facebook or Twitter or Amazon are collecting your data and you have agreed, maybe not out loud, that the convenience these companies offer is worth your information.)

LinkedIn is sitting on data and once the play or the market is ready, it will leverage it and that will change how we find jobs and how we market ourselves. I honestly believe this.

Indeed and Monster are in trouble because the value of LinkedIn for employers and job seekers is very much wrapped up in the fact that everything everyone needs is housed under one roof. Things are going to change and soon.

For you, this means you need to be proactive. You need to be on LinkedIn and you need to devote some of the mind-numbing time you give to Instagram to cultivating your professional brand on LinkedIn. It needs to be updated and readable. If it looks subpar or if it is not there, you are now behind the competition when someone Googles you after reading your résumé or when a headhunter searches LinkedIn for qualified hygienists in the area to hire.

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Wait, was that a question?

I hate listening to (most) people ask questions.

I say this as a ravenous consumer of podcasts that often feature Q & A sessions with live audiences. Whether in the comedic format of something like How Did This Get Made? in which audience members ask questions of the show’s roundtable or the more business-minded format of The Gary Vee Audio Experience in which individuals -in both one-on-one and large audience settings- get to query the host, it is clear to me that people are consistently really bad at asking questions.

I have kind of known this for many years having spent plenty of time in graduate school seminars in which grad students use questions as vessels for longwinded, often-unrelated orations meant almost entirely to make themselves feel smarter.

The same thing happens at academic conferences, as well. Oh, and in faculty meetings.

However, while I knew this ego-stroking practice existed in my world of often self-important, but unconfident nerds, I had overlooked the fact that it exists everywhere else, too.

And so, with that, let me say that asking a question is a skill you should develop. Whether it be for a job interview where you are on either side of the table, a professional conversation in which you are trying to learn more about a potential employer, or at a work conference where you would like to ask the keynote speaker something interesting, remember that the act of asking the question is not about you.

The question is not an opportunity for you to sound smart, to pontificate on the future of social media, to enumerate all the great books or articles you’ve read, or to showcase how great of a leader you are. No, the question more often than not -especially in the professional or public space in which you are clearly an audience member- should be an opportunity for you to learn something from an expert, but through the act of inquiring trigger an answer that will bring value to all who are listening.

In other words, keep it short and to the point. Unless you’re the one on stage or in front of the camera, no one wants to hear your thoughts on government surveillance.

Stop hating your job.

There’s value in a shitty job.

When you are working in a job you hate, you need to leverage your boredom, apathy, and downtime. Use it to think about a side hustle and then do the side hustle while on the job. Or think about what careers you really want and start planning your pivot toward them. You can reflect on the life choices that got you into this job that you dread coming to every morning.

The point is to use that time to think of a way out or at the least, a way to survive, because hating your job will get you nowhere.

There is little value in dwelling and sulking and pouting. Take responsibility. I understand some of us do not have a choice in our jobs, but the majority of us who do have made a choice or series of choices that landed us in our dismal situation. If you’re going to change anything, you have to own.

Once you’ve done this, plan for the short- and long-term. If you’re looking for a new job, do not burn bridges. Doing so is never a good thing. And do not start half-assing everything. People see that. Rather, if you can hunt for new jobs without getting fired, do that during breaks or when you’ve completed the work that needs to get done. Update and tune-up your résumé and LinkedIn profile.

If you’re going down the side hustle route, ask yourself how much of that work can be done on “company time” with “company resources.” I’m not telling you to cheat your current employer out of anything; I’m saying get your work done then use the time and resources available to you plan -and orchestrate- your next move.

Simply put, stop allowing the time-suck, energy-suck, and value-suck that is hating-your-job to get in the way of thinking productively about what needs to come next. It is pointless to wallow in despair about something as trivial as work.

Reframe your perspective and if you can, do it when someone else is paying you.