As recruiters, a fair proportion of our lives is spent staring at the familiar blue and grey screen of LinkedIn. Akin to a TV without a remote, we are unfortunately subservient to the content generated and shared by our connections. Without sounding like grumpy old man harking back to the “good ol’ days”, I can’t help but notice a decline in the quality of content being shovelled down my virtual neck. Not only do we put up with LinkedIn’s terrible algorithm suggesting we all apply for procurement jobs, but like a ginger step-child, a new and terrifying trend of epidemic proportions has emerged; The LinkedIn Inspirational Meme.
Once upon a time, LinkedIn was a platform to connect with past colleagues, headhunt candidates, map competitors, and share the occasional relevant job. Of late, it seems to have turned into a trumpeting service for every wannabe knowledge “curator”. In this bun fight of content creation, the preferred formula appears to be a piece of stock photography with an often misspelt quote emblazoned across the top. The usual quotees tend to be JFK, the Dalai Lama, Warren Buffett, Richard Branson, or some US business Guru who we pretend to know. Those that post these memes tend to me bored conference attendees wanting to be a “thought leader” or some such guff. Like a stroppy 15 year old painting their room black, one can only presume that these people think themselves to be incredibly deep. Why get on with your daily business when you could be mis-quoting an assassinated president over the backdrop of a tiger in a waterfall, right?
However, like criticising Hays for flicking CVs, it’s unfair to lay the blame solely on the instigators. Responsibility for this pandemic must also sit with those who like, share, and encourage these people. Personally, I would urge you to either suffocate these cyber wordsmiths with silence, or, like a French resistance fighter, to mount a counter attack under the guise of being responsible professionals. My own protest has been to create my own memes, even more moronic than those already infesting my Linkedin feed.
Firstly, have you ever wondered which 80s synth rock track the world’s most famous pacifist would dictate down a payphone to a distant relative? Wonder no more.
How about Donald Trump quoting his favourite Jamie Oliver recipe?
Next up, a grinning English entrepreneur takes on his favourite obscure passage from 1215’s Magna Carta:
Likewise, we receive the occasional CV with a quote affixed directly under the candidate’s name. Usually from Gandhi, the Dalai Lama, Bruce Springsteen on some such luminary, I’m never quite sure what the candidate is trying to achieve. Is it to show that they own many leather-bound books? That they are a deeper thinker than their competitors? That The Boss, and not Jon Bon Jovi, is New Jersey’s finest export? Or maybe I’m being cynical, and that hiring managers are indeed impressed by a stolen sentence from Mother Teresa or Chief Sitting Bull. I’d guess that these same hiring managers also live alone with a house full of cats and have horses printed on their sofa cushions.
So I urge you now. Stop sharing quotes. Remove then from your CV. Tell your candidates to remove them from their email signatures. There are over one million words in the English language and we have the freedom to put them in our own order.
I’d like to finish with something profound, but I’m spent. Maybe A.A. Milne was right when he said a “quotation is a handy thing to have about, saving one the trouble of thinking for oneself, always a laborious business.”