Thea Cabrera Montejo
Illustration by Silvia Quach
LinkedIn has transitioned from a simple website to an obligatory source of affirmation. With this new reputation, the company has priced dream jobs at the mere cost of $39.99 per month.
Some friends have claimed to feel like a two star restaurant on Yelp. Most of the time, others get upset that a glorified resume has so much weight on their eligibility. But my personal issue with LinkedIn is the fact that they have profited under the guise of presenting opportunity. Ironically, those who are desperately seeking employment to keep themselves financially afloat do not have the luxury to spend money.
“Get noticed, get connected, and get ahead,” are the promises made by Job Seeker Premium. The LinkedIn upgrade alters your profile to be more aesthetically dominant over those of your colleagues. It also places your job application above others’, allows you to send inMail to people who you have not yet connected with, and even graphically compares your qualifications to your peers. Whether or not these features are worth the price, the crucial flaw is that it discriminates against those who cannot afford it.
Suddenly, due to LinkedIn’s exclusivity, opportunity comes at a cost too high for those who actually need it.
Regardless of the criticism, a platform for professional networking is a must, and LinkedIn is one of the largest global networks for business. The website serves several purposes: it provides accountability, quantifies an employer’s reliability, and creates a tangible system for the career ladder. But much like many other social networking sites, LinkedIn has various alternatives. AngelList and Zerply are similar to the site, and MeetUp has events, providing the chance to meet other professionals in real life. Opportunity even has a matching algorithm for career-oriented folks. One site, stopusinglinkedin.com, is dedicated to providing options categorized by careers.
Personally, I am not sure whether I advocate for these alternatives, but I do want a more honest process. Landing a respectable job is hard enough, but has it gotten to a point where opportunity has to be sold and packaged? Is it naive to want a fair system? I find that it is imperative that people should have an equal chance based on their qualifications and tenacity — not on their ability to pay a fee.
LinkedIn is not the only site to extort the idea of a dream job for profit, but they have given us a reason to start a very important dialogue — one about the shrinking exclusivity of opportunity. Their update, sugarcoated as Job Seeker Premium, contributes to the strategic disadvantage for those who would not typically be able to afford it. In light of this, we must critically question who is excluded and why; and, more importantly, we need to rectify those disadvantages.