Change your approach to LinkedIn

Over quarantine, I frequently scrolled through my LinkedIn feed. While I passed through each never-ending day, often making only micro-movements towards my career goals, I saw posts of completed certificates and productive side projects. Over the next year, my career performance was continuously benchmarked against the LinkedIn people that “made it,” becoming newly minted employees at their dream companies.

Exposure to this content was damaging. Despite intrinsically knowing my experience, life, and career aspirations were different from people who posted, I still compared myself. Unrealistically, I felt like I fell short. Worse, I felt like it was impossible to catch up, and I often felt discouraged.

I’ve seen this phenomenon similarly affect peers.

Social comparison is the phenomenon where we compare ourselves to the snapshots of lives we see on social media. The phenomenon occurs whenever we open Instagram, Snapchat, or LinkedIn. The comparisons can be better-than or worse-than, but ultimately, we compare ourselves and our accomplishments using the benchmark of other people.

One consequence of social comparison on LinkedIn is that viewing positive posts can worsen one’s career frustrations. More generally, passive social media use (scrolling without interacting with posts) is associated with higher levels of depression and worsened overall well-being and self-esteem.

While LinkedIn is helpful in networking for jobs and opportunities, the platform - like any other social media - can worsen mental health.

If you find yourself scrolling on LinkedIn and comparing yourself to the performance of the people on your feed, it may be time to change your approach. Below are some tangible ideas that limit the impacts of social comparison. (Note: It takes time to break habits, so have patience with yourself)

  • Reflect on your triggers. Journal about how you feel when scrolling through your feed. The more aware you are, the more likely you are to switch tabs when you don’t feel good.
  • Go straight to the Jobs section. When you go on the site, immediately click on the Jobs tab. Even better, bookmark the Jobs tab and start using that link.
  • Move the LinkedIn app to a random folder. One goal is to break the built-up habit of automatically opening LinkedIn and scrolling. Mobile apps are incredibly accessible, and it is easy to go on them without thinking. Therefore, it can be helpful to put more obstacles in place. This way, you’ll have more time to think and stop yourself when you want to click that blue icon.
  • Limit your time on your feed. Budget a limited amount of time per day to spend on your feed.

Regardless of where you stand in your career, we all come from our own paths. For the sake of our well-being, it is crucial to build habits that re-affirm this fact.