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Shella Scarborough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Shella Scarborough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

10 Things You Might Not Know About LinkedIn

Shella Scarborough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Shella Scarborough via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

As the Facebook of the corporate world, LinkedIn has been providing professional referrals for its users—which today number 433 million—since its debut in 2003. On Monday, Microsoft announced they'd be acquiring the company in a deal worth $26.2 billion. If you have only a vague memory of creating a profile, we've collected some facts and tips on how to get the most out of the internet's most valuable electronic business card.

1. YOU CAN GET A LITTLE TOO AMBITIOUS.

LinkedIn wants you to reach out and establish connections with professionals who might be able to further your career, but the company would prefer you not turn into a pest: user accounts can be restricted or deleted for sending out too many invitations when the recipients indicate they don’t know you.

2. IF YOU’RE NOT CAREFUL, THEY CAN HURT YOUR JOB SEARCH.

Sometimes artificial intelligence doesn't act very intelligent. When users update their LinkedIn profile to better articulate their current position or even change their status to “unemployed,” the site likes to deploy a mass email urging your contacts to “congratulate” you on your new position—even if it’s the same position, or no position at all. If you’re in the job market and potential employers think you’ve landed something, you might be out of luck.  (You may want to turn off a feature labeled “activity broadcasts” so contacts aren’t alerted every time you sneeze.)

3. ENDORSEMENTS MAY NOT MATTER.

LinkedIn

Job hunters quizzed about how much stock they place in those little “Endorsement” boxes in a LinkedIn profile had a quick answer: they don’t really care. Because endorsements are so easily checked off, they don’t carry much weight. (And in the case of people who barely know you, might not even be accurate.) Instead, try to aim for “Recommendations,” the personalized mini-letters of endorsement that colleagues can post to your profile.

4. THE SITE LOVES SHINY NEW PROFILES.

Your electronic resume might be so perfectly worded and arranged you’re reluctant to mess with it. You should: LinkedIn’s search interface places value on profiles that feature a revolving door of fresh content, even if it’s just a single update about a new project or a new buzzword for work you’ve already been doing for years. Doing so can help a profile stand out in contrast to a laundry list of aged-out accomplishments.

5. YOU PROBABLY DON’T KNOW YOU’RE BEING WATCHED.

LinkedIn takes a sizable chunk of its profits from Recruiter, the site portal available to head hunters looking to fill jobs. By paying for the premium service, recruiters are able to surf profiles anonymously, stick a dossier to your profile with their own personal notes, and generally peer in on you while you’re none the wiser. One recruiter told WIRED that someone who lacked a LinkedIn profile entirely had zero chance of getting hired, even if he came across them through another channel. A lack of one would be a “red flag.”

6. THEY FINALLY REALIZED THEY SEND OUT TOO MANY EMAILS.

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To be a LinkedIn member is to choke on emails updating you on your contacts' updated profiles, your new job opportunities, and several additional reminders about each. In 2015, LinkedIn acknowledged their ticker-tape parade of messages was too much for most people and announced they would be reducing their one-sided correspondence by 40 percent.

7. THERE ARE A FEW WORDS TO AVOID.

Are you motivated? Creative? Passionate? Congratulations—so is virtually everyone else looking for work. Catherine Fisher, senior director of corporate communications for LinkedIn, told Fast Company that those were three of the most overused and ineffectual adjectives in profiles. She advised users to show motivation—not just tell—by offering specifics on projects or jobs they’re passionate about.

8. THEY HAD TO SETTLE A CLASS-ACTION LAWSUIT.

In 2013, many LinkedIn members were perturbed to discover that the site had used their imported email contact list to send out invitations to join the site by using the original user’s name. According to Business Insider, a California district court found that the site had not overstepped its Terms of Service policy with the initial introductory email—but it did take advantage by sending two follow-up emails. LinkedIn denied wrongdoing but agreed to a $13 million settlement.

9. IT ISN’T FACEBOOK, BUT PHOTOS STILL MATTER.

LinkedIn

Research has been done into how long job recruiters stare at profile photos, and they apparently like to peer into your soul for quite some time. Photos with “creative” filters, group shots, or clutter aren’t likely to endear you to viewers. Opt for a headshot that skips Photoshop and lets your personality come through without being too eccentric.  

10. YOU CAN FIND LOVE THERE, TOO.

BeLinked was created by an investment banker in 2014 to allow LinkedIn users to follow up on their professional interests with personal inquiries. The app lets you connect to your profile and then search for potential matches according to industry, school, or location. The app is not affiliated or endorsed by LinkedIn, which you'd probably figure out on your own as soon as they failed to send you an email about it.

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Ho, No: Christmas Trees Will Be Expensive and Scarce This Year
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The annual tradition of picking out the healthiest, densest, biggest tree that you can tie to your car’s roof and stuff in your living room won’t be quite the same this year. According to The New York Times, Christmas trees will be scarce in some parts of the country and markedly more expensive overall.

The reason? Not Krampus, Belsnickel, or Scrooge, but something even more miserly: the American economy. The current situation has roots in 2008, when families were buying fewer trees due to the recession. Because more trees stayed in the ground, tree farms planted fewer seeds that year. And since firs grow in cycles of 8 to 10 years, we’re now arriving at a point where that diminished supply is beginning to impact the tree industry.

New York Times reporter Tiffany Hsu reports that 2017’s healthier holiday spending habits are set to drive up the price of trees as consumers vie for the choicest cuts on the market. In 2008, trees were just under $40 on average. Now, they’re $75 or more.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tree at a decent price—just that some farms will run out of prime selections more quickly and you might have to settle for something a little less impressive than in years past. Tree industry experts also caution that the shortages could last through 2025.

[h/t New York Times]

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