'LinkedIn is supposed to be this super-connected social media network for professionals that I reluctantly joined at the persistence of a former colleague appalled at my lack of self-promotion.'
'Well, I'm out there and I don't know who knows me, but I do know that LinkedIn's algorithm definitely doesn't,' says Kanika Datta.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
'Hi Kanika, Looking for a Job Change?'
The pssst! nature of the subject line is irresistible.
Who among the wide variety of people registered on this cool and happening social media network called LinkedIn was offering me the overpaid job of my dreams?
One click reveals the short answer: No one.
Or, at any rate, no one who actually knows me and/or has generously and unilaterally endorsed me for skills they think (and I hope) I possess.
You know, editing, reporting, writing -- that sort of thing.
I am a journalist with a bare minimum university degree, all of which is recorded on this network, together with my place of work and former company.
None of them have the remotest connection with the jobs listed out for my perusal in this mail.
The top three vacancies are: Station Manager, Mumbai, for Amazon; something called a CDO -- Anywhere in India for Colgate-Palmolive; and 'SSIS' -- two to five years, Mumbai/Bengaluru, for Capgemini.
Even without the knowledge of the functions of a CDO or SSIS, I am confident that I am spectacularly unqualified for either of these posts.
Perhaps 'APH Government projects -- NEW' for Akzo Nobel would interest me?
Or maybe Maintenance Engineer with GKN Driveline?
Not so much.
You see where I'm going with this.
LinkedIn is supposed to be this super-connected social media network for professionals that I reluctantly joined at the persistence of a former colleague appalled at my lack of self-promotion.
"You have to be out there, people must know you," he insisted.
The site's claim of having 400 million plus members was enticing.
A sybaritic job in the Bahamas could be mine.
Well, I'm out there and I don't know who knows me, but I do know that LinkedIn's algorithm definitely doesn't.
Media jobs do occasionally make it to my inbox, but they have nothing to do with my recorded skill sets, experience (not recorded so, in fairness, how would LinkedIn know), or location (recorded).
But mostly, the mails that arrive contain lists of jobs of the type above -- testing engineer and field service engineer were on the long-list -- for which I am wholly unfit, even assuming I were looking for a radical career change.
Perhaps I should confess to LinkedIn's software filter that I rarely passed science and maths in high school.
Maybe the fact that I am Indian has something to do with these offers: These are subjects for which Indians are supposed to be globally renowned wizards, after all.
Alas, I am not among this blessed breed.
Algorithms are the lifeblood of this brave new world of e-commerce and social networking in which we live.
They create the sophisticated robots that are supposed to be taking our jobs anytime soon.
If the doomsayers are to be believed, they can even produce a grammatically flawless version of this column.
Yet, in the admittedly low-tech world that I inhabit, the evidence of algorithmic brilliance by these wildly popular social media sites has been poor.
LinkedIn remains an example week in, week out with its laughably irrelevant information.
But consider the controversy not so long ago with Facebook and the accusations that it had unwittingly helped the circulation of fake news during the US presidential elections last year.
Last September, it attempted to clean up the problem by automating the Trending feature.
Data scientists suggest that this may be a partial solution because algorithms are driven by the data it is given.
In the ancient days of the 1980s, we called this garbage in, garbage out.
Which makes you wonder: What kind of data is being absorbed by an e-commerce site that makes them clutter my mailbox with suggestions for books by writers and genres I never read?
Or, indeed, products that I am unlikely to buy (men's deodorant, for example)?
Or, in the case of LinkedIn again, why bother to list the bulk of employees in Business Standard, my recorded place of employment, as people I may know and want to connect with?
Still, let it not be said that I am ungrateful.
The experience has been so salutary that it has encouraged me to stay away from the rest of the virtual world of social media and remain grounded in the temporal universe of entities we used to call friends and contacts.
Only the smartphone has replaced the Rolodex.
An aside: A helpful LinkedIn article does not list journalism among the last jobs robots will take.
The 'safe' candidates are: Elementary school teacher (no hope for me, I'm terrible with kids); professional athlete (too old, but am a world-class armchair sportsperson); mental health professional (no comment), judge (too much rote learning of Acts and laws) and politician (worth a try; if Donald Trump can become the US president...).
Maybe I urgently need to update my profile, as LinkedIn regularly urges me to do.
Let me see, how can I bulk it up...
Should I mention that I came fifth in a brokers' exam at the Calcutta Stock Exchange?
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