Here’s what happens when you age yourself on LinkedIn

by | Aug 6, 2020 | Blog

“Gravity and wrinkles are fine with me. They’re a small price to pay for the new wisdom inside my head and my heart.” So, does LinkedIn agree with Drew Barrymore?

Using the latest technology in free aging iPhone apps (thanks FaceApp), I got a glimpse into my future.

While Russian developers potentially sifted through my phone’s data, I was excited to upload my new photo as my LinkedIn profile photo!

All of a sudden, I’d aged 15 years, which considering the fact that I run a small business during COVID-19, isn’t actually that shocking… So, what happened? 

Seeing as LinkedIn is a professional networking social media application, I was expecting little to no changes in the way people communicate with me.

One feature of LinkedIn that helps with this process is the fact that there are no notifications to your network when you update your profile profile so I can make changes undetected.

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30-year-old Marcus: 

Average 18 engagements per post

Unsolicited direct messages per week: 37

45-year-old Marcus: 

Average 7 engagements per post

Unsolicited direct messages per week: 9

A dozen or so people contacted me or mentioned in other conversations that I looked “different” on my LinkedIn profile.

My new 45-year-old self thought he was looking pretty good but didn’t get as much love as his younger counterpart. Bloody kids. 

So, I decided to ramp things up a few years and started to imagine myself at 70, living in Daylesford with a grumble of pugs still posting to LinkedIns…

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So did my part-time-shopping-centre-Santa-self get any more love on LinkedIn? Yes!

70-year-old Marcus: 

Average 12 engagements per post

Unsolicited direct messages per week: 33

What does this mean? Well, to be honest, probably very little. This is hardly a scientific study and the severe lack of data means we shouldn’t jump to any conclusions…

But if we did, it would be in line with some studies. Most people over 50 will tell you that age discrimination exists. This is especially true for people working or seeking work in technology, and digital services – probably most of my network.

Do appearances on LinkedIn affect the way others interact with you? How does innate bias change our behaviour? I took some time to reflect on the way I look at others online and what assumptions I make about people, especially their age. If someone’s profile is a professional headshot, a selfie at a bar or left blank, it can affect how others perceive you. And of course, age can play a part too. 

According to Donna Serdula, Author of LinkedIn Profile Optimization for Dummies, “Age discrimination is not everywhere. There are employers out there that don’t subscribe to the belief that the older you are, the less value you have. Embrace your age on LinkedIn but also embrace your experience, knowledge, strengths, and abilities. Please don’t try to hide your age. Omitting dates and your picture is the worst thing to do. It calls into question the veracity of your profile and turns people off.”

Psychologists at Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of Washington created “Project Implicit” to develop Hidden Bias Tests—called Implicit Association Tests to measure unconscious bias.

Hidden Bias Tests measure unconscious, or automatic, biases. Your willingness to examine your own possible biases is an important step in understanding the roots of stereotypes and prejudice in our society.

If you select Australia, the test can look at your own bias for Age, Weight, Aboriginal, Gender, Sexuality, Skin-tone, Race and Countries. I encourage you to take a look at the below test and test for one of the aforementioned categories.

You can take the test for yourself here.

Taking the test can help you gain awareness of your own biases. If your results do show a particular bias though, don’t worry. Scientific research has demonstrated that biases thought to be absent or extinguished remain as “mental residue” in most of us. Studies show people can be consciously committed to egalitarianism and deliberately work to behave without prejudice, yet still possess hidden negative prejudices or stereotypes.

It’s a great topic to think about, understanding how you unconsciously make judgements is imperative if you want to live without discrimination.

One thing I can say for sure is that I look great as a 70-year-old and if you’re reading this, Doncaster Shopping Centre management, let’s talk, soonish.