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Sanctimony: Alive and well in a “comments” section near you

By February 19, 2021No Comments

Last Friday, Pete Stewart, the MD of Auckland-based engineering recruitment firm “Lynx Recruitment” posted the below in reference to the green “#OpenToWork” frame on LinkedIn:

“Hate to say this but if you are looking for work nothing will hinder your opportunities more than having this on your profile.

#recruitment #lessismore #perceptions”

However, this isn’t going to be a blog about the “#OpenToWork” frame. I’m sure this has been done before, and frankly, I find it of little interest. Instead, this will be about the circa 500 comments and subsequent twisted-knickers caused before the post was finally pulled, presumably by Pete Stewart. Before we begin, a few admissions and disclosures from me:

  • I know Pete Stewart. We’re not what I would describe as mates, but we’d certainly share a chat and a beer at a recruitment event. To my knowledge, he’s a decent recruiter and plays with a pretty straight bat. He’s certainly active at marketing himself and his business, but I’ve never heard of cause to question his integrity
  • I don’t agree with his statement. Having the green circle isn’t the worst thing a job seeker can do, but neither is it the best. I can see the pros and cons of both arguments, and I think it depends on the sector you work in. Either way, I am ambivalent about it. His post would have just slipped past my feed like the majority of others.
  • I took his post as advice based on his client’s feedback. Not that he personally bears a grudge against jobseekers.
  • The vast majority of recruiters (not non-recruiters, not “thought leaders” not “strategists”, not people who just manage recruiters) I have spoken to agree with Pete Stewart’s statement

And this is where it becomes juicy. Contrary to the views of most recruiters I’ve spoken to, of the 500 or so comments that this viral post received, at least 98% hung Pete out to dry. And we’re not just talking about “I disagree” or “prove it” or “Shut up Pete you dickhead”. We’re talking full blown character and career assassination. Here are some examples, but first a definition for you all:



  1. the action or practice of acting as if one were morally superior to other people.



Munir, who only flies with his support dog, writes; “Tone deaf and ignorant post. There are many jobseekers potentially second guessing themselves . Well done for toying with people’s mental health in exchange for likes”. Yep, apparently Pete Stewart, like an evil puppet-master, is not giving advice. He’s toying with us.

Derek, who is called Derek, has a massive mustache and states his preferred pronouns because he’s woke, is not a happy bunny and demands action “This is a careless and irresponsible post that should be taken down immediately”

Alex, who admittedly only joined the internet on Friday states “This is hands down the dumbest and most disrespectful post I’ve seen in 2021”

Andrea, who thinks putting a board round your neck with “looking for work” was invented in 2020, wants Pete stripped of a SEEK award: “Very surprised to see you with a Sara for innovation”

And Darren, who kindly gives us a concise definition of irony, states “What really worries me is that 32 people have actually given this post a “thumbs up”. Which merely indicates the level of saccharine suck up bullshit that exists on LinkedIn“, as he joins 500 other people with the same opinion in this collective circle-jerk.

Stuart perhaps sums up the group sentiment when he asks Pete to resign. “I hope your paying clients see this and realise that with you, they are missing out on a significant proportion of good hires. And please, give up your job as a recruiter”. Yes Pete, please resign after posting one poorly articulated post that MANY OTHER RECRUITERS AGREE WITH.

So you get the idea.

Now I have no issue with people discussing, debating, and even ribbing people on LinkedIn. Hell, I do it all the time. Tell Pete Stewart he’s wrong, call him a wally if you must. I’m sure he can take it. My issue with the comments is what LinkedIn has become. I’m pretty sure it was meant to be a professional networking platform where people can connect online. The fact that we can all post and comment means that we can all share and discuss advice and ideas. The thing about advice however, is that it is typically opinion. If it were fact, it would be something we all do without question. You know to pour boiling water on your teabag, I’d advise you to get used to drinking it without sugar. The problem with posting opinion on LinkedIn today is that your comments section will become an audition for the world’s most sanctimonious speaking tour. People with job titles like “Strategist | Thought Leader | Speaker” cannot help themselves from crafting some sniveling, brown-nosing drivel in an attempt to get likes from others with equal amounts of spare time and equally made-up job titles. Everyone then jumps on the bandwagon, frothing that a slightly thougthless LinkedIn poster has given them a platform to demonstrate how fucking great they are.  And the problem with this is that it stifles debate. The comments section chooses its course early, and everyone follows suit. In the most part, those who disagree with the prevailing view sit on their hands for fear of the “Pete Stewart treatment”, even if, in real life, their view is commonplace. And we have to look at who is commenting. Everyone is of course allowed an opinion, but if we look at the case in point, there is plenty of mock indignation from those who are some way off the coalface when it comes to recruitment in 2021.

There is also the hypocrisy that sanctimonious posts are typically laced with. Am I not the only one who feels that Pete Stewart is the Schrödinger’s cat of recruitment? Angry posters are simultaneously defending the mental health of some abstract, theoretical jobseeker, whilst hoping that Pete Stewart loses his career, reputation and livelihood.  #BeKind my fucking arse.

In a world where we all talk about authenticity, LinkedIn has never been less authentic. Almost everyone has an agenda, and like 13 years old Tik-Tokkers, we’ve become addicted to likes, shares, and affirmation. Giving advice that goes against the current trending hashtags is now career suicide. Being sanctimonious is easier in words than actions, and on a platform where all we are is words, it’s so easy to preach to those who screw up after a couple of beers on a Friday lunchtime.  In the current climate, unless you run your post past a committee, some holier-than-thou keyboard warrior is going to be on you like a tramp on chips. LinkedIn allows us all to talk “best practice” without having to back it up. And talking is one thing, doing is something else. When it comes to the job market, recruiters who sometimes say the wrong thing, but mostly do the right thing, give better advice than “thought leaders” who spend so long trying to say the right thing, that they leave no time to do, well, anything.

That’s it from me today folks. Feel free to comment, sanctimonious or otherwise.