Recently, I deleted my LinkedIn Account. Life has gone on! Actually, it's much better. I'm happier, my blog ranks better, and my online presence is more focused.

(If you're looking for my resume, I've published it here instead!)

On LinkedIn, I had a nice LinkedIn URL, a clean profile, and a tailored image. I spent a while on getting it "right".

But over time, I found LinkedIn to be a net drain on my time and emotional energy. I'm not a LinkedIn influencer (I presume there's some kind of portmanteau there, but I won't go there), and I just could no longer see the utility.

Besides, I found something a lot better... and I'll get to that soon.

In this article I'll go over

  1. Why delete your LinkedIn profile
  2. Why it's not that good for jobs
  3. How LinkedIn feeds a cycle of insecurity
  4. What to replace LinkedIn with

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Note: Rather than delete my profile, I deactivated it. It has the same effect, but leaves me with the option to re-claim my nice URL should one day LinkedIn significantly change in style — for example, if they got rid of the feed, or even just let me deactivate the feed natively.

Why Delete Your LinkedIn Profile?

Let me ask you another question to answer that question.

What has LinkedIn done for you that

  1. Exceeds the risk of a bad LinkedIn profile (e.g. one that has a mistake in it or accidentally exposes something bad, or just looks embarrassingly out of date),
  2. Hasn't made you feel something negative (like envy, guilt, or anger), and
  3. Couldn't be done more effectively through a phone call, email, or letter?

There is basically two kinds of person for whom a LinkedIn profile is useful: marketers and recruiters.

Marketers use LinkedIn to find prospects and send them cold messages to try to sell them products. LinkedIn is quite good at helping marketers target prospects by filtering for industry, location, title, years of experience, and so on.

If marketers want, they can also sell LinkedIn ads. If they sell enterprise products, it's a good place for it.

Included in the category of marketers are "LinkedIn Influencers". These are people who write posts that go viral because they tap into some kind of psyche. Then the influencers use that virality to sell courses, speeches, books, and sometimes other people's products.

If you're a LinkedIn influencer — well, you know what you're doing. You probably want the maximum number of people to be on LinkedIn so you can sell vacuous content like "How to Be a Better Employee" to them.

Recruiters have been using LinkedIn as their primary recruiting source for many years, too. Similar to marketing, LinkedIn is a really good way for recruiters to target people with experience in specific companies and markets.

So if you're a recruiter, and you're looking for a Marketing Manager in your industry, then LinkedIn is a great place to find similar people who you can tempt over with a possibly higher salary.

But Isn't LinkedIn Good for Jobs?

LinkedIn won't help you stand out from the crowd
LinkedIn won't help you stand out from the crowd

If recruiters use LinkedIn, then isn't LinkedIn good for jobs?

Yes, LinkedIn is good for getting jobs — in the extremely traditional sense.

Recruiters make money (or keep their jobs) by successfully hiring people to fill roles. They're a lot like real estate agents or used car salespeople, except the commodities they trade are humans.

If you are currently a manager at a tech company, and want to get a job doing the exact same thing for a competitor, for maybe 10% more pay — or not — then yes, LinkedIn is good for that. Someone will find you and offer you this.

Recruiters mostly look for the easiest path forward. They're not interested in wildcards. They look for people with extremely relevant experience, preferably at a competitor, and preferably at a bigger competitor.

Then, they connect with those people and try to tempt them over to an interview.

In this sense, having a LinkedIn profile is much like listing your car for sale on a website where the only people who can see it are used car salespeople who'll then earn a commission on your sale. (And if you're selling something unusual — good luck!)

If you're a graduate, then you don't need LinkedIn. Your best path forwards is via a standard graduate recruiting program. If you're an executive, then LinkedIn is just a waste of time; at best, it's a way of promoting your company ("Look at this report we published on inclusivity; we're so inclusive"), and it should probably be handled by your assistant or an intern.

But if you're thinking of using LinkedIn to reach out to random people and to get coffee with them — let me tell you right now, this is a fool's errand.

What you should do is to find those people on any platform, including LinkedIn (you can have a dummy account for this). Then, then send them a targeted email, or give their office a call. Sounds scary, right? Yes. That's why nobody does it, and that's why you'll have an edge.

Comparing Ourselves, and The Vanity Fair of the Linkedin Feed

LinkedIn started basically as a place to put up your resume for public viewing. But lately, it has become a social media site... with all the same attributes of any social media vanity fair. It's vacuous and deflating.

Fundamentally, LinkedIn has become a place where we risk doing one of the most damaging things for our sense of self: Comparing ourselves with others.

I started out as a consultant decades ago at a respected company. These days, my colleagues on LinkedIn seemingly all had titles like "Partner", "SVP", "CEO", or "Founder". They work at huge companies and many have obviously considerable wealth.

At least, that's true for the ones that I see on LinkedIn. There are presumably other colleagues not active on the platform. I have no idea where they are. But I would wager that wherever they are, they are happy.

Seeing former friends/colleagues with obvious external metrics of success is deflating. They're "someone". Who the hell am I? Sure, I might travel around the world 100% of the time, doing whatever I want, spending my days between writing, practising martial arts at my local gym, studying language and culture, and generally languishing in the glory of my life's every day and hour. But despite this obviously objectively wonderful life, I still fall into the vice grip of insecurity. I wonder if other people are better than me. The brain is a fantastic and terrible thing.

Then, on top of providing a vehicle for our tendency to compare, LinkedIn started a product called the "Feed".

The feed is a constant stream of posts by people, about their careers, with no purpose other than to garner attention, in support of their ego. It's the most concentrated vanity fair I can imagine existing — even more so than other social media sites (where a picture of a delicious burger may be just that).

The LinkedIn "feed" is now stacked with posts that might even sometimes be benign. But to anyone with insecurity in them — and I venture to say that would include the vast majority of people in the employment market — feed posts have a dark subtext that we can't avoid reading.

For example:

  • "I'm happy to announce I've been promoted / got a new job!" (Subtext: You didn't get promoted / are stuck in the same job.)
  • "Three months ago I was fired... but it was the best thing in my life." (Subtext: You never recovered from being fired.)
  • "The latest layoffs have been brutal. If anyone needs a job, don't hesitate to call me." (Subtext: I still have a job. I am of more value than you.)
  • "Recently, I sold my company. Here's everything I've learned about doing so." (Subtext: You don't know things, and will never get the experience I had.)

I could go on but it's aggravating just writing these down.

These posts are so self-serving. They feed the poster's ego, and deflate the ego of others. Even if they're not always explicitly for the former purpose, they often have the latter effect.

LinkedIn is NOT a supportive place where people will celebrate your wins and commiserate with your suffering. If you want that, find a true friend. But for the rest of us, it's just a place to do insecurity-driven doom scrolling.

So — LinkedIn isn't good for getting jobs and can just make us worse. What should we do instead?

What to Replace LinkedIn with

In short, I suggest that you replace LinkedIn with a blog and/or newsletter.

That's if you want to do anything at all. You could just as well do nothing, and just use your phone and email to contact people. But if you do want to publish posts, then do so on your own platform.

There are lots of choices of blog/newsletter platform, but I really like Ghost, as it's run by a non-profit and has values that I align with. (See why I like Ghost.)

Other people choose Substack. It seems fine, but Substack sees Ghost, a tiny non-profit, as a competitor. So pick your team.

I started my blog (this one, years ago. Over time, it has been a much better place for me to market myself.

On a blog, I control my own audience, I own my own data, and I can do with it whatever I want. If a post starts trending, I can spin it off into a whole other blog or product (which I did when people started to appreciate my posts about motorcycles). If a post is off-brand or no longer relevant, I can delete it. Nobody will (probably) remember).

If I ever want to make money off my content, I can do so however I want: I can market my own courses, sell affiliate products, or put on display ads. I've done some of those and many other things. Nobody limits me.

Blogs are even good for networking. People who don't know me, but who are kindred spirits, reach out to me over my blog and introduce themselves. Sometimes, we become friends. Occasionally, they offer me projects!

When people google my name, they get my blog. The first thing that comes up is a blurb about me.

On my "About" page, I can write whatever I like.

I can disable or enable comments. I currently have disabled them. But if I had enabled them, I could edit or delete whatever comments people made. (Comments are a public forum, and this isn't one. If you want to comment, then contact me.)

You might wonder "But how will people find you?" It's a good question. To be successful in a blog, you have to: have good content that people want to read (this is by far the most important one), and be good at writing.

If you have those two attributes — mostly the former — then people will find you through search, social media sharing, and things like Google Discover. It may take time to get started, but it snowballs — believe me.

The important thing is that you need exactly the same attributes to be found on LinkedIn. Things "trend" because they're good.

I started out in blogging in 2018 with zero pageviews a day. These days, I get around 100,000 a day across all of the websites in our portfolio. It takes time.

Sum up

This post is equally a diatribe about the deleterious (get it?) effects of LinkedIn, and equally a recommendation to do something else instead.

But it's not intended as a sales pitch for any blogging service. Like I mention, you can also opt to do nothing!

The important part is that if you feel like LinkedIn is a waste of time, then you may be right. If you enjoy deleting or deactivating your profile, then let me know.