Over the past few months, I’ve been dusting off my LinkedIn profile, making some updates, and adding new connections. Back in college, I thought LinkedIn was kind of like Facebook for pretentious people with full-time jobs (I wasn’t that far off), but now that I’ve been out in the work force for a while and I’m trying to establish some credibility as a legitimate young professional–which is a significant shift from my current reputation as the ponytailed office urchin who has a lot of just “good” weekends—I’ve found that it’s networking can be a really useful tool.

The more people you know in your chosen field, the more aware you’ll be of opportunities that you may have otherwise missed if your only LinkedIn connections are your manager from your high school job at Sbarro Pizza and the more successful sibling your parents quietly love more than you. Beyond potential job opportunities, you can learn from the career progression of your peers and use that to determine what your next professional development steps should be. That’s what we all tell people we’re using LinkedIn for, but the reality is far more scandalous.

 1. You need to find out your coworker’s age.

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We all have that one coworker who looks like they could be anywhere from 28 to 52 years old, and it just so happens this coworker isn’t forthcoming about their age. You can either go into work every day wondering if your coworker is a vampire or if a Tuck Everlasting scenario is going on, or you can hop on their LinkedIn profile and make an intelligent estimate based on their college graduation year (or their actual birthday, if it’s listed). This is especially important for Millennials, because anyone who graduated before 2000 will not appreciate their self-deprecating narcissism or references to the PBS show Arthur.

 2. You feel like mocking someone with 500+ connections.

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Some people are intimidated by the assumed success of LinkedIn users with 500+ connections. After all, those professionals just have so many connections LinkedIn had to stop counting! They could have 501, or they could have 10,000 professional connections! The unfortunate truth about 500+ connection people is that most of them connect with everyone they’ve ever known. Their barista who always finds a witty way of misspelling their name, the babysitter they fired for taking collect calls from the prison, the proctologist they visited during a dark time in their lives, and the manager they insisted on speaking to in Target when Cap’n Crunch was supposed to be on sale. When I see someone with 500+ connections, I see loneliness and professional desperation.

 3. You want to creep on an ex or former crush.

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Checking up on former romantic interests using Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is sooo juvenile. We’re adults now, and adults don’t care about who’s dating who or who’s posting ignorant political commentary; adults care about estimating how little money someone is earning and quantifying someone’s squandered potential. LinkedIn is a safe place to judge all your ex’s failings from a safe distance—just make sure you log out or turn on private browsing so they don’t know you looked at their page. Get that professional closure you need for ending things with Dynamic Aspiring Self-Starting Entrepreneurial Ninja.

 4. You need resume ideas.

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So you know those skills and job responsibilities that you’re struggling to polish enough to be worthy of your resume? LinkedIn is a valuable resource with numerous other professionals who have similar job responsibilities as you. See how other people have described what they do and draw inspiration from their lies. This is what LinkedIn is for—don’t be too proud to use the resources at your disposal!

 5. You need to determine if your superiors at work have earned the right to be as smug as they are.

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Before LinkedIn, you had to take your superiors at their word when they embellished on their professional background. Now, when that random manager claims he served in World War I, lent his expertise to the moon landing, served on the Board of Directors of a Fortune 500 company, won a Nobel Peace Prize, pioneered the chicken pox vaccine, and directs those sad ASPCA commercials in his spare time, you can head over to his LinkedIn and sit in your cubicle with the satisfaction of knowing his levels of smugitude are unprecedented.

 6. You’re in the mood to feel like a failure.

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Sometimes when you’re feeling depressed about your life choices, it’s really satisfying (read: torturous) to find someone on LinkedIn who has your dream job. You like to scroll down to peruse their many accolades and see all their wise career decisions. You can even compare your timeline to theirs and confirm—right on LinkedIn—where everything went wrong for you.

I’m not sure how we ever did without LinkedIn as “social networking tool,” and I hope we never have to find out. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to review some new dubious endorsements that appear to be computer-generated and make some connections with strangers in the least creepy way possible.

Image: Sheila Scarborough/Flickr; Giphy

12 thoughts on “The Real Reasons Why We’re Using LinkedIn

  1. lol I do not have a linkedin profile but recently looked up the woman I just interviewed with and learned about her previous job and was able to use her job descriptions to suit me and moving to next phase of interview process! fingers crossed I get the job 😉

  2. “We’re adults now, and adults don’t care about who’s dating who or who’s posting ignorant political commentary; adults care about estimating how little money someone is earning and quantifying someone’s squandered potential.”

    Exactly.

    Funny stuff. As someone who wanders around the fringes of employment, I don’t think I’ve updated my LinkedIn profile in five years. I probably should, if only to let my connections know I’m not dead, if not to confirm their suspicions about my squandered potential.

  3. I don’t get it. I just don’t get LinkedIn. I’ve tried for myself. I’ve set them up for my organization, for alumni groups. It just seems a better way to stalk personal information.

  4. I always just assumed that LinkedIn was like a digital copy of your resume, a place that a potential employer can go to and check to make sure you match up everywhere…

  5. Yeah, those people with 500+ are lonely and desperate. So funny. All they do all day is perfect their bios, I’m sure. LinkedIn is strange to me. I think it wants to be Facebook, but is trying to be different. I really don’t know what to make of it. It just confuses me, but Katie this really helped.

  6. Holy crappers… hilarious AND true. I could not love this post more if I tried. This is TOTALLY why I’m on LinkedIn… and everyone else is too… we just don’t like to admit it.

  7. I think most of the people who stalk LinkedIn are the self employed. It’s a great networking tool for those who work for themselves but it can get really obsessive. When I worked for myself I spent some time on there every day, in the forums, connecting to anyone I came across in the same or a related field. It was a way for me to feel like I wasn’t wasting the day away when I had no work. Sad truth.

  8. I admit it, I was lost on the point of LinkedIn. I thought you just throw your resume on there. After reading this and spending more time on there, I realize now that it’s just another way to remind me of how socially inadequate I am. Yaaay.

  9. Like many others, I too don’t get LinkedIn. I do know I get tired of the emails to join and connect. I can never decide if it is worth it.

    I do know that this post was hilarious!

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