In the summer of 2014, I worked at a recruiting firm. This meant that I was on LinkedIn for most of the day, reading thousands of profiles.
LinkedIn profiles aren’t much fun, unless they’re the profile of someone you can’t hire.
(Exhibit 1: The programmer who is so confident and secure in his job that he’s formatted his profile as a Dungeons and Dragons character sheet.)
I can be hired. Sometimes, I even want to be hired. So I can’t totally sabotage my own profile. Still, I wanted to have some fun with LinkedIn.
So I went after a section that most people never look at, but that still might be found by bored young recruiters like Aaron circa 2014.
The best hacks, pranks, and practical jokes are those which, just for a moment, make someone feel as though they’ve entered a strange new world, where the old rules no longer apply.
That’s the world I built on my LinkedIn profile: A world in which a “skill” that is the butt of every bad-resume joke is real. Important. Deeply valued.
All it took was a Facebook post:
“I’ve decided to show off my skills as a Microsoft Word expert. If you believe me when I say that I’m really good at using Microsoft Word, would you be willing to endorse me? In exchange, I’d be happy to endorse you for Microsoft Word, or for one other skill you can convince me you possess.”
The result: I think that I might be the single most-endorsed person on all of LinkedIn for the world’s most popular software tool.
I consider this hack a total success, for two reasons.
First, any recruiter willing to discriminate against a Microsoft Word expert such as myself will pass over my profile, which is good: I’d never work for an employer so biased in favor of rogue or “indie” word processors.
But more importantly: A few times over the next few years, some bored junior recruiter will find my profile and scan it without much interest. Then, they’ll stop reading, backtrack for a moment, spit out their coffee, and say:
“What the hell?”
And then, just for a moment, they’ll pause to contemplate the true shape of the world.