Even the Crying CEO thinks you share too much on LinkedIn

Steve Crider frequently shares job tips and other career insights with his 52,000 LinkedIn followers. More recently, he’s debated whether to post about pandemic stress eating.

“It’s certainly vulnerable,” asks Mr. Crider, who runs his own recruiting company in the greater Richmond, Virginia area. “But is it too personal? Is it really relevant?”

So the debate is brewing on LinkedIn and among its users: How personal should a professional social network be?

LinkedIn has evolved during the pandemic from a networking platform into an arena for emotional exchange about parenting choices, hustle and bustle culture, the meaning of life, and social media’s third rail – politics. Career advice, work anniversaries, and promotion announcements still drive much of the conversation. But alongside those posts are now wedding photos and stories of overcoming addiction, not to mention tragic tales of illness and loss.

For many LinkedIn users this month, Braden Wallake’s post — a photo of himself with tears streaming down his face after firing two employees at the company he runs — was the ultimate example of how professional sharing can work went wrong. “I can’t think of a lower moment than this,” he wrote in the post, which attracted more than 10,000 comments and instantly turned the crying CEO into a meme.

LinkedIn users see it with mixed feelings that their professional contacts are fully committed to the platform. Some welcome the new openness around work and life, while others may feel uncomfortable seeing posts about, for example, the religious beliefs of the person you only know from an interview. Also, there is a feeling that some of those who post about personal issues are doing so with the goal of professional enrichment.

And some users say they just prefer to keep the personal stuff on their Facebook,

Twitter or Instagram feeds.

Dorothea Bauer describes some LinkedIn posts as comparable to watching a car accident.


Dawn Mueller

Mr. Wallake, the weeping CEO, faced numerous commenters who claimed his post was deaf and inconsiderate to the employees who lost their jobs. Others accused him of being a virtuous narcissist. He says he has no regrets, noting that the positive feedback outweighed the bad.

However, he also feels that sometimes the conversations on the platform have strayed too far from the roots of the social network.

“It’s cool to celebrate our big life wins,” says Mr. Wallake, head of Columbus, Ohio-based marketing company Hypersocial. “But the kids went back to school this week? Okay, we get it.”

Dorothea Bauer, consultant and lecturer for ethics in technology and Finance, describing some of the LinkedIn posts she likens to watching a car crash. “They blast me with their personal tragedy,” she says.

dr Bauer, who lives in Switzerland, says she’s happy that issues like mental health in the workplace are no longer taboo and that work-life juggling is being discussed more than it used to be. However, she says some personal posts on LinkedIn are designed to grab attention — with features like inserting a paragraph break after each sentence — rather than being genuine Connection. Sometimes, she says, she has to restrain herself from leaving a snide comment.

LinkedIn’s shift from the more buttoned-up corner of the web has coincided with a 40% increase in the number of members engaging with content on the platform between July this year and last year. A LinkedIn spokeswoman said the company has professional guidelines and monitors the types of posts and discussions on the site to ensure exchanges remain safe and productive. The platform has lately introduced more user controls – such as B. A no-policy setting – to allow users to filter this type of content if they wish.

“Being a platform where people can stay professional and bring their full, authentic selves to work is a good thing,” said Nicole Leverich, vice president of communications at LinkedIn.

Rachel Kargas, a director of recruitment in Denver, says she doesn’t understand why some LinkedIn users are harsh on personal posts.

“There’s a lot of anger and argument in the comments,” she said. “For me, if you don’t like it, keep scrolling.”

Rachel Kargas says she doesn’t understand why some LinkedIn users are harsh on personal posts.

Photo Illustration:

Rachel Kargas

Ms Kargas says some of her personal posts included a handwritten note from her child and a picture of a messy closet at home. A LinkedIn post from someone who was showing off his tattoos this year resonated with her in particular. Ms Kargas, who has tattoos herself, says she emerged in her career when tights and heels were the norm.

“You make a statement in many ways: I can be a proud member of the LGBTQ community and a professional. I can have lived through an addiction, I can live with depression, I can have had a pregnancy loss and be a pro,” she says. “We become very isolated when we put on this personality of professionalism and we don’t talk about these things.”

However, she took offense at a post by a LinkedIn user urging others to accept Jesus as their Savior. “I felt uncomfortable,” she said.

Emily Anhalt, a clinical psychologist and co-founder of Coa, a mental health startup, says the surge in sharing on LinkedIn is partly due to the overwhelming nature of the pandemic. With fewer opportunities to be among colleagues and others, people turned to LinkedIn and other sites to find more connections.

She suggests a good question for people to ask before posting: Do I feel abandoned if I don’t get likes or comments?


How much do you share on LinkedIn? Join the conversation below.

If the answer is yes, it’s probably best not to share.

“This isn’t about validation and love,” she says.

A vulnerability done right can lead to opportunity, says Mr. Crider, the Virginia recruiter, who finds that posts connecting his work and personal life have resonated with most people. In a post this spring, he hailed his wife’s decision to take a career break to raise their kids full-time.

“This decision is not in the best financial interest of our family,” he wrote. “Even so, it was one of the easiest decisions we’ve made in the 12 years we’ve been together.”

The post received over 120,000 likes and more than 3,000 comments. After that, he says, he received messages of support from companies who said they wanted to work with him.

Write to Katherine Bindley at [email protected]

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