A Millennials Experience with LinkedIn

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LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help professionals connect and stay connected. But treating it as anything more than just another tool in a job seekers utility belt is a mistake. While it has all the bells, whistles, and name recognition, I find that people’s experiences and success with the site very greatly. Contrary to what they may claim, LinkedIn in not the golden ticket to your dream job. Rather than an automatic connection to top recruiters, it is a tool people can use to gain a competitive advantage in the workforce market. But is it really meant for everyone?

Be Your Own Biggest Cheerleader

It’s not enough to create a profile and hope that the right person stumbles upon it. You have to be an active proponent and really sell yourself. This means regularly updating your profile, posting relevant articles and content. But with two to three people joining per second, the network is louder and more crowded than ever before. It’s hard to have your voice heard when it easily can get lost in the chaos.

Who is LinkedIn for?

While it may be a good tool for more experienced individuals mid career, it is extremely difficult for younger generations, including myself to use to help start a career. A recent survey of 23 major social networks ranks LinkedIn as the “oldest” social network, with an average age of 44.2 years old (Tumblr, for example had an average age of 34.6 years). So, while 80 million Generation Y users log on to social media daily, only 23% of Millennials are using LinkedIn. Therefore it makes sense that the majority of the content posted is geared towards more experienced users.

While I may be smart enough to be among the 23% of millennials who do use it, the types of positions listed aren’t for someone in my situation. I found that I was generally was either overeducated or under qualified for the vast majority of the positions listed. While I still applied to positions that interested me, the “1-3” or “3-5” years of related experience many employers required were a major problem. How am I supposed to get my foot in the door if employers are requiring experience upfront? There was no good way to win and little incentive to continually engage in this site.

Unfortunately, this is a large problem across all types of industries. Despite having the drive and ambition, many young graduates simply can’t get a start in the field of their study. Employers want young talent with experience, but with today’s job market they are able to employ experienced professionals just as easily, making it easier for established professionals to move up the corporate ladder, not newbies who have little if any substantial professional experience.

Making New Connections

Making new connections sounds great, but it’s difficult to create new meaningful connections. While relationships certainly matter, it is hard for younger generations to make connections that are actually worthwhile. I could reconnect with my past co-workers from Culvers or my lifeguarding days, but how helpful will those connections really be? If I am trying to break into a certain industry, these are not the people I need to target. Rather, I need to connect with notable people in the company as well as recruiters. Simply adding Bill Gates on LinkedIn probably won’t help me get a job at Microsoft. Similarly, sending inbox messages or stalking recruiters will not help generate a lead. There is a fine line between extending your professional reach and seeming desperate.

A Different Animal

Perhaps LinkedIn is less of a true social network and more like a job board with social components. If younger generations are using Facebook more, why not try to turn the tables and revamp its strategy? If Facebook is the destination, why not transform it into something more? Or, why hasn’t LinkedIn paired with Facebook to become just that? Creating a Facebook app that feeds informed networking and job opportunities to people could be a valuable tool for users- especially younger generations. It could combine forces and become a super social network, improving its strength and recognition.

Conclusion

But, after all the smokes and mirrors you can find a platform than can be quite useful in the proper hands. With over 94% of recruiters using LinkedIn, it would be a waste to dismiss it entirely. It may not appear to be as beneficial in the short term, creating a profile has the potential to connect to others later down the line. While I believe LinkedIn’s greatest asset is its ability to help maintain and foster new professional relationships, this should be taken with a grain of salt. Building professional relationships can be exceedingly helpful, but at its core, these relationships already need to already be in place to be beneficial.

Posted on November 1, 2015, in Blogs, Social Media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Hello:

    I agree with a lot of your comments. I know I have a LinkedIn account because they send me lots of emails about all my acquaintances that are on there. I believe I signed on years ago, but never really did much with it.

    So, most of my knowledge comes from my social circle. I have very close friends who frequent it regularly. Like you mentioned, most of their interaction on there is about building professional relationships and not necessarily for the sake of a collaborative job search. In fact, the couple of people that use it the most, use it for personal PR within their field. They have no plans to “jump ship” but they do like everyone to recognize how competent they are in their field.

    One of these people does occasionally reconnect with previous co-workers and bring them into contract jobs at his current company. I’m sure these people are grateful as the pay is amazing. These are jobs requiring a lot of experience though and in a highly specialized field. In fact, I don’t think the people he has brought into his company were actually looking. They all seem to hang out on LInkedIn, more or less, catching everyone up on their successes and finding what old colleagues are up to.

    I’m not knocking it. That’s one of the things I do on Facebook. I just don’t have much personal experience with someone who was on the receiving end of a job through LinkedIn. I may give it another whirl when I find an extra minute in the day. In fact, I have no plans to budge from my current job, only because I can’t find the time to. 🙂

  2. Hi Rebecca,

    Interesting point about your friend using LinkedIn to recruit others for highly specialized field. As you mentioned above, these are experienced professionals within a certain niche. Im sure the specialized search features on LinkedIn make it easier for recruiters to find these individuals rather than sifting through an mountain of resumes.

  3. Hi Rebecca, I understand your frustration with LinkedIn; as an older professional, I find it very valuable, but I can see how you might not find it so. It’s vast, and you’re right in that many of the people in your professional network cannot help you–but you never know! In order to get experience, have you done internships? That’s how I managed to get my foot in the door in journalism. Then you will have experience and perhaps even find a job at the company where you intern (that’s what happened to me). Another thing that may help is that LinkedIn does feed you links to jobs in your field, which is a good way to narrow the field. Maybe you had already thought of these things, but I thought I’d put in my 2 cents.

  4. natashajmceachin

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thank you so much for this post! I thought I was the only one who couldn’t get into Linkedin. I’ve had a profile for years now, but I may have logged in a total of 5 times. I never understood how Linkedin could possibly land me a job, however all the “career coach” gurus out there swear by it.

    A very close friend of mine has a career coaching business and claims 95% of people who find jobs online do it on Linkedin. She’s all about increasing your number of connections, but my issue is although you may be connected, you still don’t know each other.

    No complete stranger is going to recommend me to the hiring manager at their job, regardless of how long we have been connected on Linkedin. Nobody in their right mind would put their credibility on the line in such a reckless way.

    I think most employers use Linkedin as a screening tool, to learn more about candidates who already have applications on their desks. I can’t say that I personally know anyone who has found a job on Linkedin, and I’ve always had the best luck applying for jobs and waiting for phone calls.

    • You are not alone at all!

      While LinkedIn certainly can have potential, it can be frustrating to say the least.

      I completely agree with your point that “No complete stranger is going to recommend you to the hiring manager at their job, regardless of how long you have been connected on Linkedin”.

  5. Rebecca! I can totally relate to your observation about entry-level jobs requiring 1-3 years of experience. This has always puzzled me! I’ve even come up with a couple of my own theories as to why this is such a phenomenon.

    a) The job posting platforms have a field for “number of years of experience” and they don’t provide a “0” option, forcing employers to go with the next lowest number “1.”

    b) Employers are looking more for a candidate who has had some kind of related professional experience, even if it’s just an internship or work with a “real world” client through a class. Maybe then they can round up to a year of professional experience?

    c) Employers are posting more of a “wish list” than hard and fast requirements. In a perfect world they would find someone with 1-3 years of experience who would accept and entry-level position, but they’ll take the best of what comes through the pipeline.

    I don’t know if any of these ring true, having never been that employer. However, I’m fairly certain that my first full-time job in my field did request that amount of experience, and I did get the job with just my internships to point to. Thankfully, now I’m past that hurdle when looking for jobs. I would encourage anyone who was in the market for an entry job to apply for those “1-3 year experience” positions anyways.

    • I love the theories that you came up with as to why employers demand “1-3 year experience”! They are all valid points and very well could be reasons why this is the norm. Also, it is somewhat reassuring that others were able to share my frustration with these requirements. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. I was surprised to learn that Millennials were struggling with LinkedIn–you all seem so savvy with social media. But, I can relate to your struggles, which we all face at the beginning of our careers–with or without sites like LinkedIn.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I thought I would suggest you take a look at a terrific book: What Color Is My Parachute? by Robert Bowles. He updates it every year and it is terrific source for job hunting but also managing your career. It has some terrific advice in there about social media.

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