It’s been a funny week.
When I write things like that I often think of the last few minutes of any “Open All Hours” episode, where Arkwright is shutting up shop and putting the world to rights in his head. He normally starts the monologue with “It’s been a funny sort of day …”.
Anyway … last week was not like that. Not much in the way of nostalgic humour, regional accents or lonely trumpet playing. Last week was more of a “found out I’m being made redundant” sort of week. Funny-peculiar, not funny-haha.
In their infinite wisdom, our bosses have decided to close our studio and layoff around fifty people. Not really a big deal in the Grand Scheme of Things, but still a bit of a stinker for us and our families.
I shall not dwell on the logic of this decision, or any other possible reasons other than the one that they have given. It wouldn’t be healthy and wouldn’t do anyone any good.
Instead, it seems better to talk about how my colleagues have reacted to the news. It has been a delight to see how professional and constructive everyone has been, sharing information about other companies that may be recruiting, and recommending each other to their contacts in the industry. Telephone numbers and e-mail addresses have been passed around freely. There has been no competition or ill feeling, and everyone genuinely wishes everyone all the best. I’m proud to have worked with them for the last eighteen months.
The office has been a hive of activity; certainly more intense (and yet more positive) than I can remember at any time in the last few months. The printers are red-hot with updated CVs. Phones have not stopped ringing. Recruitment agencies circle our office like vultures around a dying buffalo. Tea-breaks take second place to the filling-out of online job application forms. And to top it off: most people are continuing to work on a product for which they are unlikely to receive any credit.
As people have updated their CVs, they have also updated their LinkedIn details. This includes requesting recommendations from colleagues – even from me!
In case you didn’t know, LinkedIn is a “social networking” website for yuppy professionals. You enter your details about past and current employers, and make “connections” with people you have worked with in the past. The idea seems to be that recruiters and potential employers can find new employees by looking through the connections of people (employees) they already trust.
It’s quite similar to Facebook – but without all those photographs of you blind drunk at Halloween, trying to get off with the lass in the Morticia Addams outfit.
It is important that you know the difference between Facebook and LinkedIn. If you were to set your Facebook status to “Donald is an upwardly mobile professional who enjoys the challenge of tasking his team with quality excellence” then you’re going to get responses like “i giv YOUR MUM sum quality excellence LOL”. If you were to set your LinkedIn status to “Donald is chillin wiv his homies and can’t believe wot he drank all last nite d00dz!” then you’re unlikely to be headhunted for that journalism job at The Sunday Times.
Facebook is like a tin of Quality Street: in amongst the wondrous bounty of strawberry creams and caramel barrels we must sadly endure those dull, flat chewy things that takes ages to eat, stick to your teeth and make you drool like a geriatric Labrador.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is like a packet of Jacob’s Crackers: consistent, reliable, predictable … boring.
One facility LinkedIn provides is the ability to get people to “recommend” you. In exchange for bribes, sexual favours or the handing-back of a certain videotape, you can persuade your colleagues to write a paragraph or two of bullsh- … I mean, a bit of flannel for your profile, to convince any future employer that you are NOT quite as weird as your blog might suggest.
Most of these recommendations fit quite a familiar pattern: “I knew <name> when he worked at <company>. He was consistently professional and blue-sky thinking; empowering us to utilise synergy and positive pressure mandates to keep us at optimum peak intellectual capital, whilst maintaining an acceptable signal-to-noise ratio.”. A lot of Dilbert-esque waffle. You are certainly not going to see “I knew <name> when he worked at <company>. Not the sharpest of tools, but at least we never caught him wanking in the stationery cupboard.”.
LinkedIn is not a place for those with a sense of humour. And my tolerance for “management speak” is rather low. I know perfectly well that nothing I write is going to get approved … but that’s not to say it’s not worth having a go.
Rather than let them go to waste, I thought I’d present some of my rough material here so that anyone who works with me knows never to ask me for a recommendation. Before anyone complains: the names are made up!
“Sean’s ability as an artist is surpassed only by his strange and Godlike beauty. His form and figure are the very definition of physical perfection; a testament to God and the wonder of His creation. Sean shouldn’t be employed; he should be caught in a net, kept in a glass case and exhibited at the Natural History Museum.”
“When I first met Arnold, I thought he was a badly-dressed, egotistical sociopath. But after working with him for the last eighteen months I can confirm that I once saw him wear a shirt.”
“To be honest, Alison’s work isn’t up to much. But after just two Bacardi Breezers, she’ll happily show you her tits. Her low self-esteem and unresolved Father-issues make her the ideal addition to any office Christmas party.”
“In addition to introducing new practices and processes to our office that transformed our day-to-day operations, Dean introduced me to Dogging!”
“Discussions of Julian’s possible sexual orientation dominated tea-break discussions for many months. The discovery of his perversions, bizarre club memberships and recent court appearances successfully united all other staff as one, in their common loathing and disgust. Truly a team-builder.”
“Bob is great at ‘Twister’.”
“Mark is a perfect, hardworking employee and will be ideal addition to any company that can look past his Tourette’s and chronic flatulence.”
“Gary has respect for all living things, big or small. Just look through his beard and you’ll see he carries a healthy collection with him at all times.”
I still maintain that a light-hearted recommendation would be good for someone’s profile. After all, the “standard” recommendations begin to blur together after a while – when you’ve read one, you’ve read them all. But if a recruiter saw one of mine in amongst all the other crap, don’t you think they’d remember it? Wouldn’t they be more likely to read your others properly afterwards? And then they’d ring you up and BEG you to take that 90K/year job as a fluffer in the adult entertainment industry that you always wanted!
More recommendations available on request.