LinkedIn is heaven.
It’s a place where you can talk about business, money, or sales and not get a pitchfork to the face.
Over the years I’ve built an enormous presence on the platform. My posts have reached hundreds of millions of people (none of this is said to brag). This is a blessing and a curse when it comes to a job.
Let me help you rethink how to use your LinkedIn profile while working a job. Hat-tilt to Justin Welsh for the prompts.
Your LinkedIn profile is their opportunity to exploit
Earlier in my career I joined a tech company. They saw what I’d done on LinkedIn and were excited to have me.
On day one I walk into the office…
“Hey Tim, welcome aboard. Can we do coffee later?”
I thought the nice marketing executive was happy to see me. I sit down. A few minutes into the small talk, he throws the mask of deceit on the ground and openly says:
“So I’m going to need you to share these posts of ours on your LinkedIn profile this week.”
They were happy-go-lucky corporate BS posts that no one would be interested in. They were lower quality content than the ads on cable tv.
When I said no he got upset. He reported me to my boss. I told them straight out: “I own my LinkedIn profile and it has nothing to do with my day job. I will reshare nothing.”
The buggers got the message.
If you let them, your employer will use and abuse your LinkedIn profile for their profit.
The sure-fire way to never have freedom of speech again
In another new job I started I encountered a different problem.
An advisor to my new boss wanted to vet everything I wrote, despite never writing anything controversial on LinkedIn.
“It won’t be good for your career. Let me shape your messages for you. If your boss takes a post the wrong way it could have dire consequences.”
I refused his offer. No chance I wanted some schmuck to tell me how to write or think. He eventually gave up with the threats.
My boss never had an issue with my LinkedIn stuff. Neither did my colleagues. In fact, the internal social media team loved what I wrote and even reshared my work.
No employer owns your LinkedIn profile. Don’t step on their bear trap.
Here’s why you must resist employer ownership of your LinkedIn profile at all costs (quit if you have to).
1. The compound effect of your ideas
The ideas you put out into the world via LinkedIn are powerful.
- They show who you are.
- They build your reputation.
- They tell a bit of your personal story.
If you let your employer run your LinkedIn, or worse, don’t have a LinkedIn account at all, you miss the magic of sharing compounding ideas.
Every time you walk into a meeting room you’ve got to build your reputation from scratch every time. If you don’t then people don’t trust you.
Without trust it’s hard to gain momentum in any job.
2. Your reputation moves with you
Gone are the days of spending 40 years at the same employer and retiring with a gold watch and a supermarket cake.
We will all change jobs many times in our careers. Makes sense.
So the reason I don’t let any dumb corporation own my LinkedIn profile is that what I do on there leaves a lasting impact. It moves with me. I can transport those results anywhere I go, whereas most of what I do at work has to stay secret when I move on due to privacy/NDAs.
That means without LinkedIn, I need to build a new reputation at every subsequent employer I work for.
What a fast way to go nowhere.
3. Without LinkedIn you become a transactional monster
Capitalism and modern business dynamics create good little transactional employees who follow the rules.
Businesses are moving away from the broken dreams of having ‘customers.’
Smart businesses are building communities instead. There’s a subtle difference. A customer does something once or maybe twice with a business. A community member is with you for life.
They’re part-customer and part-employee.
The reputation you can build on LinkedIn helps form relationships and build a community around you. Without a LinkedIn profile, all you can hope for is to do a series of one-way transactions and “do business.”
But relationships come with you wherever you go. And relationships help you get the best career opportunities in the world that you can’t apply for or google. Trust me.
4. A reputation built on LinkedIn replaces a resume
For the second half of my career I didn’t apply for many jobs.
I let my resume collect dust on my computer. Why? LinkedIn brings people, opportunities, and jobs to you.
Resumes are one of the most dangerous documents in history because:
- Everyone has a resume
- Resumes waste a lot of time
- Everyone sounds the same on a resume
- Achievements on resumes are mostly lies
- Hiring managers hate sifting through resumes
- Smart AI and Application Tracking Systems (ATS) are trained to screen people out. Biasses creep in. Even racism.
Why would you want to be a sheep with a resume? Why apply for jobs? No. LinkedIn makes your career permissionless.
You stop saying “please sir can I have a job at your magnificent company.” And start saying “I’ve had a few job pitches recently — what makes yours different?”
After enough thoughtful posting on LinkedIn your reputation supersedes any useless resume.
5. HR messages go straight to the dumpster
HR teams globally are trying to use your LinkedIn profile as their opportunity. They carefully disguise their tactics to use your LinkedIn profile as “good for your career.”
LinkedIn posts written by HR teams are dry and lifeless. No smart LinkedIn user is going to fall for that crap.
When you adopt HR corporate speak on LinkedIn you get tuned out. People literally ignore or even unfollow you.
Remember: HR doesn’t own your LinkedIn profile unless you let ’em.
6. LinkedIn is a fallback for a bad boss/company
Some jobs don’t work out.
Linkedin helps create a Plan B in case you get lied to by the corporate devils in Prada. LinkedIn is where you go to speak with recruiters, message old colleagues, and search for interesting companies.
It’s a way to hedge bets.
If the job goes well then great. Time to party. If the job goes bad then you’ve got a network and, hopefully, content you’ve posted to help you rise up from the ashes again and dominate once more.
I will never bet on one employer ever again.
Bringing it all together
Career expert Justin Welsh says “Your employer won’t help you rebuild your profile when you’re laid off. So, don’t let them use it while you’re employed.”
We all remember March 2020 and the bat virus. What happened when times got tough? Layoffs. And when the recession hit in 2022? Layoffs.
Keep ownership of the one thing in your career that can change your life. Don’t let any corporate vultures steal it from you. No employee contract on the planet says, “Oh, and by the way, we now own your LinkedIn profile.”
I’ll leave you with this final tip…
You’ll never have to worry about what you post on LinkedIn being an issue if you stay away from the topics of politics, religion, coroni-rona & conspiracies.