LinkedIn is one of the most visited websites in the world. It is the social network of choice for business professionals.
A Skills & Expertise section was recently added and I was prompted to add some to my profile. I searched for skills from my previous life as an engineer in the oil industry and then as an MBA in renewable energy. Skills like project management, sustainability, and supply chain management came up in the pre-populated results after typing only a few letters.
As I moved on to my new life as a volunteering nomad I also had little difficulty finding my new skills among the already-recognized list of skills. Nonprofits, motivational speaking, backpacking, travel writing, and even minimalism came up without a hitch.
Then came the shock of a lifetime. As the chief happiness officer of HappinessPlunge.com I naturally searched for the skill of happiness. As I typed the word, I expected to see it appear in the pre-populated results. Instead, I got to the end of the word and was given the option of manually adding it to my profile. Happy hour, a skill widely sought after by Fortune 500 companies worldwide was available, but not happiness.
Then I started wondering what other skills I could find listed if something as basic and universal as happiness wasn't available. I can only justify my first search by admitting that I'm still an immature teenager in many respects and that my intestines have taken a beating after 18 months of traveling. But yes, searching for constipation yielded a hit. It was already there, probably for medical professionals. Potty training was also an option, probably for people working with children and animals.
Vices like exploitation, cheating, and gambling exist in the database. Character flaws like anger, and aggression are there too. Felonies like murder and money laundering are easy to find. Business skills like lobbying, union avoidance, downsizing, outsourcing, and evictions also exist if you have the courage to list them.
Kicking ass was the most surprising skill I found. I guess salespeople would strive for that skill. Sadness, the opposite of happiness, was available. Depression too. I guess fixing these conditions are the hallmark of therapists. But it's quite telling that happiness is absent in this database of skills relevant to the business world when its opposite is readily available.
I'd call myself an optimist, but I'd still say that finding happiness in the corporate world is extremely hard. Maybe LinkedIn recognizes that and "you can't find happiness" is an embedded Easter egg? Why has LinkedIn reduced happiness to write-in-candidate status when a meaningless skill like "awesomeness" is there? I'm not sure what all this says about us as a society; all I know is that if I ever return to the corporate world I'd much rather see happiness listed as a skill on my manager's profile than kicking ass... or constipation... or murder.
Follow Adam Pervez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/happinessplunge