8 Tips To Avoid Comparing Yourself To Others On LinkedIn

While LinkedIn is a beneficial tool for job searching, it is natural that when using it, you may feel like you’re falling into an aimless rabbit hole of perusing other peoples’ profiles. Before you know it, you forgot why you opened up LinkedIn in the first place and having looked at so many other people, it may cause you to start comparing your own professional journey to theirs. While this is natural, we’re going to list a few tips here to help you avoid this spiral so you can stay focused on your own path, goals, and progress.

First, know your general job search strategy. Having a broader strategy that feels intentional and informed can be crucial to feeling like your overall job search is focused. This will make it much easier to spot the people and opportunities that can be a source of help and are in line with your direction, or are not. Having a job search strategy means that you know clearly your ideal, target roles (and salary range), industries, organizations, size of the company, and whether you want to work remotely, hybrid, or in person. The narrower your focus, the better. It’s a myth that being more “open” helps you in your search. Rather, if you have multiple options, it may feel more overwhelming, confusing, and roundabout to get where you want to go. Figure out your ideal direction (i.e. pursue career path exploration as a process), and then you can still focus on volume, and find more of the right opportunities and people who are in line with a direction that you know is fitting for you.

When you’re ready to open up and use LinkedIn as part of your targeted job search, here are a few tips that will keep you focused to use the tool to your advantage versus letting it get you down.

1. Know your goal. Get clear on why you’re opening up LinkedIn.

a. LinkedIn is a wonderful tool – if you know what you need it for. It can serve as a tool to:

  1. Learn about your professional areas of interest via the newsfeed where you can find conversations, articles, research, and more
  2. A way of conversing and sharing your thought leadership, perspective, and knowledge through posts, comments, blogs, videos, lives, and more
  3. Create a public profile (i.e. a public resume) to share your background, portfolio, achievements, impact, skills, and direction
  4. Find and apply to open jobs
  5. Research and identify mutual/shared connections
  6. Research and identify contacts from your alumni network
  7. Research and identify contacts who work in roles, organizations, or industries you want to learn about or connect with
  8. Message and connect with professionals you want to meet and ask for informational interviews
  9. Take courses for skill development
  10. And much more!

b. Decide what you need it for in that moment, so you go into your efforts with intention.

2. Timebox yourself.

  1. Given your goal for the day, how much time do you want or need to spend on the tool?
  2. Consider how much time you can afford to spend but also avoid allotting too much time that may create burnout. You can be very productive in 1-2 hours or even less if you know your specific aim for that session.
  3. Use a timer to help you focus your efforts and avoid rabbit holes.

3. Have another window open alongside LinkedIn to facilitate progress and track your efforts.

  1. Rarely will you need to solely open up LinkedIn by itself, unless you are purely just applying to open roles. And even then, do you have an Excel or another tracker to document your work? Or if you’re using LinkedIn for networking, I’d similarly encourage you to have a tracking document open. If you’re aiming to find an introduction to someone at a particular organization, having LinkedIn open alongside your other “trackers” or documents will ensure that you’re on there to achieve a goal, and not feel like you’re using the tool aimlessly.
  2. Open up both windows and resize the screens so they literally sit next to one another, to ensure that your time on LinkedIn has a focus and purpose.

4. If you notice something you like on someone’s profile, jot them down!

  1. Note that other professionals' profiles and journeys should be a source of inspiration and motivation. If you like how they formatted their headline, or you’re intrigued by their job or background, jot down what you can take away to look further into or apply to yourself. Or maybe you want to craft an authentic, compelling outreach message to see if they are willing to connect so that you can learn from them.

5. If you notice any negative feelings, shut it down.

  1. Anytime you’re operating out of a place of stress, fear, or any “down” feelings, it is an important time to pause any and all job efforts and come back to them again when you can refind a confident, open mind.

6. Proactively put in the time to strengthen your confidence and self-awareness.

  1. Work with a coach, mentor, peer, therapist, or people that can provide support to you to ensure that you are actively building your confidence.
  2. Imposter syndrome can be quite common, but use that feeling as a signal of an opportunity to see where you can improve. Get objective with what you’re great at, what you’re good at, what you’re not great at, and what you would be great at if you put in the time and proper training.
  3. Utilize help from others’ perspectives, like from colleagues or managers, to help you see yourself clearly and where you shine and where you can improve. If your performance expectations are clear, it can greatly help you to identify how you stack up and what you can work on. Then, you can get specific as to what to pursue that will help you develop and hone those skills.
  4. Know that if you get clear on which role is the right fit for you, it will alleviate this imposter feeling. There is a strong fit role out there for each individual, so if you haven’t found that yet, keep learning about the roles that exist as well as learning about yourself in order to identify what is a fit. Utilize networking and informational calls to learn deeply.

7. Keep perspective.

  1. Remember that anyone you admire who you feel is “ahead” of you had to start somewhere ‒ do an exercise to check where they began and see if you can learn from how they got to where they are today.
  2. Remember that like any social media, this is just a “profile” and learning about what someone actually does, or how they are actually feeling, is something we can’t fully know until we meet the person. Remember that “on paper” things can often seem rosier than they really are. For all you know, someone may seem successful but not at all feel that they are thriving in terms of their wellbeing.

8. Refocus back on yourself.

  1. To ensure you are getting what you need and ensure that you are moving forward, clarify these important questions: know what you want professionally, where you are at in relation to that goal, what you can work on to more efficiently land that goal, and where you need support or guidance. No one else is going to wake up, breathe, feel and reap the rewards of your work other than you, so re-take control over the clarity of your goals and how and when you put in time to progress towards them ‒ as you are the only one who matters!

Knowing who you are, what you’re great at, what you’re working on, and where you want to be professionally is one of the greatest combats to any imposter feelings. Know that there are tangible, practical exercises that you can do to see yourself objectively, identify where you align professionally, improve your weaker areas, and thus, when you notice others’ professional journeys, it will be a positive source of guidance rather than something that makes you feel deterred.

If you’re ready to reflect, learn, and clarify what path is best for you, then let’s talk!

Learn more about WOKEN’s career exploration and job search platform & coaching here.

About the author: Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

Great reminders! As they always say "comparison is the thief of joy!"!