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So, that classmate from your capstone seminar just posted about her summer internship plans. Your roommate just alerted her network that she’ll be heading to graduate school in the fall. Your best friend just announced that she landed her dream job in her dream city, and it’s her first full-time role. 

College students and recent college graduates, this one’s for you. All of the above are examples of the kind of content that’s currently flooding our LinkedIn timelines. Literally, if you go open the app right now I bet one of the first posts to pop up on your feed will be some sort of job, internship, or grad school announcement. Now, none of these kinds of posts should be considered “bad,” but that’s not to say they’ll never make your eyes roll or your palms suddenly sweaty. I know all of us genuinely want to be happy for our friends and peers that are sharing their good news; as their network, it’s our job to hype them up! However, LinkedIn anxiety is a very real thing, so let’s break it down.

Why we use & Need LinkedIn

With over 750 million members, LinkedIn is a career platform that promotes the management of one’s professional identity, the creation of a professional network, and access to new job opportunities. If you’re reading this article, I’m sure you have some idea of how LinkedIn works, whether you use the app on your phone or log into the site on your laptop. Bold of me to assume that everyone just knows what LinkedIn is, I know. But I’m not sure where us job-seeking college grads would be without it — as stressful as it can be on there sometimes, it really is a great place to connect with employers and to discover new jobs. 

The bottom line? If used correctly, LinkedIn can be a great foundational tool that has the potential to launch you into your career. Adjust your search settings to show internships or entry-level jobs, send a few introductory messages to those you’re interested in setting up informational interviews with, and connect with any and all users you want to add to your network. LinkedIn can even offer you resume help as well as tips for writing a successful cover letter. If I’ve learned anything in these past few LinkedIn-filled months, it’s that shooting your shot time and time again will eventually pay off. 

So… Why is LinkedIn giving us anxiety?

I’m sure everyone has their own thoughts, opinions, and answers regarding the question of why using LinkedIn can become stressful, but for me it has to do with the never-ending comparison to others that occurs on the app. I just graduated college this past weekend, so I’ve spent the last two semesters of undergrad in full freakout mode. Trying to find a job and people that were willing to talk to me about their own job experiences became a full-time job in and of itself. Every time I opened LinkedIn (which was too frequently to be specified in this article), I panicked at the sight of all my peers’ posts. Job offers were being announced months in advance while I was struggling to figure out the who, what, when, where, why, and hows of my post-grad plan. 

Fortunately, I’m not alone when it comes to my LinkedIn anxiety. Claire, 23, a graduating senior at Arizona State University, was able to commiserate and relate to exactly what I was feeling when using LinkedIn. “LinkedIn is a lot. It’s definitely a part of my little ‘social media routine’ every morning now, since it’s one of the first apps I open when I wake up,” Claire tells Her Campus. “However, I’m not on there every single day because I necessarily enjoy being on the platform. It’s super stress-inducing to open LinkedIn and see that no one’s replied to your messages, every entry-level job you’re interested in has over 400 applicants already, and seemingly every other graduating senior is announcing news of their full-time job offer.” 

“LinkedIn allows people to see my experiences and accomplishments, but not necessarily me as a human being.”

Christina, 22, a recent graduate from the University of San Diego, shares similar sentiments about the professional networking site. “To me, LinkedIn allows people to see my experiences and accomplishments, but not necessarily me as a human being. It’s such a great tool for connecting us students and jobseekers with employers and their companies, but it’s definitely important to remember that it doesn’t show the whole story.” 

Moral of the story? We’re not alone in how we’re feeling. LinkedIn perpetuates a rather toxic need to achieve, and we all have to train our minds to stop measuring our accomplishments with those of our friends. Of course, the act of comparing yourself to others is much easier said than done. But, I still urge us to call a truce with ourselves. Or a cease-fire, if you will. Remember, LinkedIn — like any other social networking platform — is a highlight reel.

How to deal with LinkedIn anxiety

We absolutely do not need to have everything figured out right now, my fellow college grads. Try and remember that piece of positive news! And in terms of developing a healthier and less stress-inducing relationship with LinkedIn, I thought it would be best to consult a professional. 

Marcy Newman, the director of campus partnerships for Loyola Marymount University’s career and professional development office, works one-on-one with anxious college seniors every single day. When it comes to LinkedIn, Newman’s biggest piece of advice is to remember that people really do want to help. “When learning how to navigate and use LinkedIn, I encourage students to start with warm, built-in contacts,” Newman shares. “Reach out to family friends, classmates, sorority sisters, and alumni always — especially from your alma mater.”

Newman went on to explain that a safe and helpful way to utilize LinkedIn platform is to reach out to alumni at companies you want to intern or work for. Asking for informational interviews (AKA coffee or a conversation on Zoom or on the phone) to learn about the company culture and what employers are looking for in candidates is a great place to start. 

“Let your network work for you. Put yourself out there and trust that people want to help.”

“Also, post on LinkedIn about what exactly you’re looking for (i.e. ‘Hello! I just graduated from LMU and am looking for a full-time role in Los Angeles in public relations. Please message me if you or someone you know is hiring’). Let your network work for you. Put yourself out there and trust that people want to help, especially as young professionals,” Newman concludes. 

LinkedIn certainly isn’t going away, but our stresses surrounding our usage of the app might. If we train ourselves to tune out all the noise and toxic comparison, it’ll feel much less scary to be moving on from this stage of our lives. 

Rylie Walsh is a class of 2022 graduate from Loyola Marymount University, where she earned her degree in Communication Studies and English! She was President of Her Campus LMU for the 2021-22 school year and is also a Her Campus National Writer. When she's not reading or writing, you can find her hanging out with friends, SoulCycling, or enjoying her all time favorite dessert: a Pressed freeze.
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