How To Dodge All The Performative BS On LinkedIn So You Can Truly Focus On Your Job Hunt

Having a LinkedIn profile in 2023 is pretty essential for everyone in the working world — but if the performativity on the platform is distracting you from your actual job hunt, you're not alone. 

According to Influencer Marketing Hub, close to 100,000 companies use it as part of their recruiting efforts — and that's just in the US. The benefits of having a profile are obvious, then. And, as noted by Slate, at least on the surface, LinkedIn appears to be a more authentic social media platform than most. No filters, here, just facts about professional accomplishments, past and present. However, its focus on tangible achievements doesn't mean LinkedIn isn't performative in its own way. Like its sibling, Instagram, LinkedIn provides the perfect opportunity for users to compare themselves to one another. The difference is people are comparing promotions and accolades rather than vacation destinations. As is the case on other platforms, some opt to go all-in, especially when it comes to things like hustle culture. 

With all that in mind, it only makes sense that some LinkedIn users have found it difficult to maximize the app for its intended purpose. So, how can we push past all that performative BS and make the most of what the platform was actually intended for?

Performativity is distracting, but it can be avoided

That LinkedIn has become a showground for performativity isn't exactly surprising. After all, in the late 2010s, it was nearly impossible to escape hustle culture online (we're looking at you, Gary Vee). In fact, in 2019, The New York Times wrote that the grind had come to define millennials. However, the pandemic added a little something extra to that. As pointed out by The Economist, as more people started working from home, it became a norm to prove that they were, in fact, working. Then, it became a norm to showcase achievements on social media platforms like LinkedIn — and then came the expectation to shower praise on those posting about their accolades. And the cycle continues. 

Naturally, the constant allusions to success put a ton of pressure on other LinkedIn users. As travel blogger, Kristin Lee tells Well + Good, she, like many others, often shies away from sharing her non-traditional success on the app out to avoid potential negative judgment from peers. Lee also points out that where social media platforms like Instagram typically focus on superficial things and possessions, such as what people are eating or wearing, LinkedIn focuses on the things that signal a person's workplace value. A person with a ton of awards might give the impression that they are hard-working or dedicated. For job seekers, however, this can be both motivating and demoralizing. If you're not someone who has a lot of fancy accolades to show off, it can be difficult to see your feed populate with posts from peers about their daily #grind.

So, what can be done about it? LinkedIn's own Catherine Fisher suggested the same approach many use for Instagram: Connect with only those you're truly interested in, and whose profiles don't bring up anxiety. 

You can use the unfollow button without severing connections

Here's the thing: comparison doesn't always have to be a bad thing. In fact, as noted by Psychology Todaybenign envy can be an effective motivator. Being inspired by a friend or two, or a colleague? Fine. Healthy, even. However, if it's at the point where seeing updates leaves us feeling inadequate, it's important to take extra steps to safeguard our mental health and stay focused on our career search. So, how can we go about doing this?

Speaking to Well + Good, career coach Ashley Stahl says being mindful of personal behaviors and emotions is a great first step. Scrolling without thinking, for instance, is a surefire way to bring a person face-to-face with multiple posts that bring about comparison — and not necessarily the good kind. Quick fix? Don't do it. Instead, Stahl suggests limiting your time on the app so that you stay motivated to use it for its intended purpose – as a tool for searching specific people, accounts or jobs. As for cutting out distractions, no need to worry about cutting people out with the block button. LinkedIn currently offers a feature that allows for you to unfollow news feed updates from people while remaining connected to them. Two birds, one stone: You'll see what you're looking for, while cutting out the rest of the noise. 

Ultimately, like Instagram, LinkedIn doesn't need to be sworn off, altogether. Au contraire, using it can play a major role in our careers, so it's best not to quit, cold turkey. All it takes is figuring out how to include it in our lives, in a way that works for us. Job seekers, do your thing.