LinkedIn: I use it for exactly one thing (and it's not job hunting)

Updated Oct 12 2015
arielmstallings
By: A Name Like Shields Can Make You DefensiveCC BY 2.0

It feels like we pretty much all have a LinkedIn profile. We know that 200 million people do. So we all have accounts, but this, my friends, is the question: WTF is LinkedIn actually FOR? It's a social network, but no one seems to network much there. It's for finding jobs, but how?

A little backstory here: back in 2007, I worked for a Seattle start-up called Jobster, that was supposed to be giving LinkedIn a run for its money. (I'm not even linking Jobster, because the start-up burned through a $50 million investment in a few years and basically accomplished nothing.) Working for Jobster, however, meant that I spent a lot of time working on tools for recruiters, and learning about how they used the web. And yeah: some of them DO use LinkedIn to find folks to fill jobs… but only certain kinds of jobs. And in my experience, it's usually not the fun ones.

After spending a couple years in what's known as the "Staffing industry," my esteemed opinion of LinkedIn is that it's basically an effective, elaborate resume wizard. LinkedIn makes it really easy to build a well-formatted, solid resume, complete with built-in company links, relatively easy URLs, and testimonials from your colleagues.

I'm strongly of the opinion that everyone at all times ALWAYS should have an accurate, up-to-the-second resume, even if you're totally not looking for work. Maybe it's because I spent so much time in my 20s hopping from contract gig to contract gig, but the time to talk about your job is NOT when the job is done and you're looking for a new one… you should update your resume constantly, consistently. It should be a living, breathing document updated real-time with your accomplishments. I totally live this advice: my LinkedIn profile is totally updated, even though I'm so beyond busy with the Offbeat Empire that I'm completely 100% not looking for work.

LinkedIn makes it super easy to update your resume, which means you're more likely to do it more often, which means whenever you DO go out to find a job, you'll have your current resume immediately ready to share with former colleagues, family friends, college associates, and all the other folks who are most often helpful in finding jobs. 'Cuz see, that's what sites like LinkedIn don't want you to know: as great as technology is, when it comes to the really awesome jobs, they almost never make it onto job boards or Craigslist. There are recruiters trawling LinkedIn for many dream jobs — especially the creative dream jobs that I know many Offbeat Homies love. Ultimately, when it comes to finding work, websites can help… but your best tool is the same as it's ever been: networking.

Maybe that's just me, though. I'm just one person who's worked in a few industries (tech, media, weddings). I'd love to hear from Offbeat Homies:

Do you actually USE LinkedIn as something other than a resume generator? If so, what? Has it ever helped you get a job? How?

  1. I use it to keep in touch with people I've worked with professionally who aren't close enough for Facebook. So when I have an opportunity for them or need a reference/introduction I have their most up to date contact information.

    • I'm in education, and I've recently gotten a couple of LinkedIn connection requests from former students. I feel uncomfortable being Facebook friends with former students in most cases (though I know other teachers who feel differently), but I am happy to be able to remain connected to them through an appropriate platform liked LinkedIn.

  2. I have used LinkedIn religiously since graduating from undergrad. I agree that it should be kept up to date continuously. I recently completed an internship abroad and was able to upload my completion certificate right to my profile!
    I am job hunting right now, and all my major job leads have been because of networking through the site or through its job search function. My law school does a particularly good job of helping its students find jobs and my undergrad university has an extremely active alumni page.
    Additionally, I was able to microblog my overseas experience on LinkedIn and I think it has helped in my job search to show that I can connect my experiences with my career goals.

  3. I am embarrassed to admit that, after filling out my own profile, I use it to be nosy about what other people are doing with their lives. I've looked up exes, people I dislike… Yep. Professional stalking, pretty much.

    • This is the exact reason I DON'T use LinkedIn. I don't want people being able to look up exactly what I'm doing with my life. I have worked (and still work) with some very dangerous people, and it feels icky to me that people I barely know should know the ins and outs of my daily life.

    • I would totally do this, but LinkedIn'll tell you who has looked at your profile, leading me to believe that if I look up someone else, they'll get a notification that I've looked up their profile…which I usually do not want to happen if I'm looking them up but am not interested in actually connecting with them.

      • Whether or not you show up in that "Who's Viewed" list is in the privacy settings, you can be listed completely anonymous as "A LinkedIn Member" ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I do this too, though in a more professional context. I regularly have to call people I don't know for work – I like looking them up on LinkedIn beforehand, so I have a better idea of who they are (young/old, male/female if the name is unisex, etc) and what they do in the company.

  4. I'm the Director of Talent for an ad agency and LinkedIn is my #1 tool for looking for awesome people from all over the country. We have three offices (east coast, west coast and south) and I spend much of my time looking at people's profiles to see if they might be a good match for us. If they are, I'll connect with them and ask them if they're open to new opportunities and might want to chat. Most of the people we hire are "passive" candidates, meaning they're not applying to our jobs. An updated LinkedIn profile (with links to your portfolio) seriously increases your chances of this happening. Yay technology!

    • I'm the owner of a super small ad agency in Jakarta, Indonesia and we use LinkedIn pretty much the same way — looking for awesome talent is the primary use, but we also use it to open doors and make connections for possible new business.

      Here in Indonesia, pretty much everyone mass-adds everyone else so that you can get around the whole having to pay for an email to someone not directly connected to you.

      Because of that, I keep my LinkedIn 100% professional and add anyone who requests me — even if I don't know them at *all*.

      That's actually opened quite a few doors for us — I usually follow up a connection request with a brief, friendly introduction to my agency and tell them that I'd be happy to meet up and tell them more about what we do and … They usually take us up on it!

      And, of course, I use it to e-stalk competitors — see who signed with who, who swapped agencies, etc…

      By the way, cupcakie, we do a lot of freelance copy work for companies in America… If you're interested, hit me up. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • And that works? Maybe I'm an anomaly for my generation, but I've gotten cold calls and emails to talk about potential job opportunities (I work in accounting) due to being found on linkedin, and I find it extremely obnoxious. To the point that I've considered deleting my linkedin profile. If I'm not applying for jobs, it's because I'm perfectly content in my current job!

  5. I'm frustrated/confused by how to best do this since I've had a varied career and every time I complete an application I tweak the language to fit the next job I'm looking at. I sometimes leave out work on one resume that I would include on another and even describing who I am professionally is sometimes a challenge depending on what I'm looking for. (I'm an attorney working as a government contract specialist with a background in education and in art…?!!?) What's a girl to do? Suggestions?

    • I sadly don't have much advice for this, but my husband was just complaining about the same thing the other day – and we couldn't come up with a good solution! We talked about him trying to squeeze everything into a single profile, but it seems that runs the risk of watering things down, or making super-focused employers think that he's 'all over the place' or uncommitted (rather than a strong candidate with a diverse and interesting background). We also talked about him creating parallel profiles to target the different areas of work he's interested in (both for paying work and for volunteer/civic engagement stuff), but that seemed like it could come off as super-sketchy and imply that he leads double lives or something.

      So I'll be super interested to see if anyone has any brilliant advice…

      • My advice is my comment below: I use LinkedIn to be my extended resume! It's great for if you have a wide variety of experience, because I think it makes a great compliment to your tailored application resume.

        Unless you're applying for a job ON LINKEDIN, you'll have the specific resume / cover letter for the job that's specific. A lot of potential employers won't bother looking at your LinkedIn… but if they DO, you have a description section to nicely craft together an explanation of why you have so many varied jobs, why they all worked for you, what common skills you're good at, what you're looking for, etc…. A cover letter about YOU, as an individual, and not necessarily the one you're going to filter to get you the job.

        Especially getting references from all the different jobs and having them in one place, I think is a great thing. Even if it's totally unrelated to the one you are applying for, maybe the job you're applying for will read it and be like, hey, this person sounds super cool…

        My two cents as both someone looking for work and as someone who hires other people ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I don't think LinkedIn should REPLACE a resume, but it's a great tool to showcase talents not typically considered for that particular job. I usually link to my LinkedIn profile in my cover letter.
      You could also try writing a personal statement (located right under your name & current job; used to list your "specialties" [since removed due to professional ethics considerations]) that briefly describes your career trajectory, and where you would like to go. I think of this as a mini-generic-cover-letter, something akin to the "Objective" statement someone would typically place at the top of a resume.

  6. So, I got my current marketing job through LinkedIn!

    But otherwise, I use it as my EXTENDED resume! I've done a ton of things, and a lot of them don't even make the LinkedIn cut (I used to have more on there, and it was confusing, so I cut it down). But where my resume needs to fit nicely into 1-2 pages, LinkedIn can fill in the holes for all the other info I still want to share (if anyone cares to look) that I choose to leave out of my resume because it's not the MOST relevant.

    It also does a good job of showing that I do lots of things at once, in case that means a company DOESN'T want to hire me… haha… (I have 6 current positions listed, 1 f/t, 4 p/t, 1 p/t volunteer)

    It's also the only social network profile I keep nearly 100% public.

    I also use it for a replacement for references, I try to get 1-2 new ones per year, that way, I figure if anyone's looking, they'll see I've been consistent in my work ethic for a long time.

    And recruiters! I've been approached for a TON of great jobs (field: marketing / location: Toronto area) through LinkedIn. A lot of them I wasn't interested in. Some I was, but the location/pay/something else wasn't quite right. One that recently approached me turned into 5 interviews, but then the company deciding that while they loved me, they were going to wait to fill the position until later (probably budget related, I'm guessing). Still hoping one day I get the most magical job offer randomly out-of-the-blue! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Ahhh, I just thought of more reasons I love my LinkedIn profile, so I'll just rant for a minute.

      – Volunteer Work –
      The "serious job skills" ones I put in the work section, with (volunteer) — why? So I can get recommendations for it!!! Then all my other volunteer work I can list in the new-ish "Volunteer Experience & Causes" section (aww yeah, volunteer for Offbeat Empire when I was Canada Group Host on the Tribe).

      Bonus of that section: listing causes you care about. You don't like that I care about Civil Rights and Social Action or Environment or Poverty Alleviation? Don't hire me. In this way, I see it as much as a weeding out as a finding tool. I won't mention in my personal interests on my resume that I care about those things, but if it makes water cooler convo a point for you firing me, or me exploding in rage at someone's opinions, maybe that LinkedIn section just saved me a lot of trouble. (Okay, I would probably keep the rage inside and let it eat at me instead, and I realize, that's only an issue for a subset of the population, but if anyone can understand, it's the Offbeat Homies)

      – Linking Publications –
      I would never in a million years link articles I've written in a job app unless I was applying for a specific writing position (which I never am). But, I've written some good articles over the years, on marketing subjects, or when I wrote for the news section for my university paper, or guest contributions elsewhere. If I had ever had an academic paper published, this would be the PERFECT spot to list it!

      – Expanded Education –
      Aside from me linking my extra non-job-app-specific work experience, I can expand on schooling! Certificate programs I took that don't apply to the job app. Independent coursework (Continuing Ed or otherwise). Listing specific courses or extra curriculars from school that aren't relevant on any resume past age 18. I'm still proud of some of that stuff. I don't think it hurts if a potential employer sees it in the context of LinkedIn stalking.

      – Downside ๐Ÿ™ –
      All these extra sections don't let you move things chronologically like the work section does! Sad for the lack of drag and drop. It's why I'm behind on updating my publications ๐Ÿ™

      But, uh, yeah. I love my LinkedIn profile more than all my other social network profiles combined, I think. Willing to admit that maybe I have a problem ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I do use LinkedIn, but I'm not as up to date on it as I wish I was. I've received about 2 or 3 job offers (or rather, interview request) each year from that profile since I have graduated univerity.
    I do agree it's mostly in some specific fields. I'm a translator and I've done mainly financial stuff, but also a lot of marketing. The first is a very sought-after specialization, and that is why I received offers. Marketing? Nope, not one.
    However, I do have a very wide network of translator contacts, and yes, most of the good jobs don't ever get posted, unless there is an HR compliance requirement.
    That being said, I like having a LinkedIn profile. It allows me to stay connected with teachers and former colleagues that I would be uncomfortable adding to my private FB account. And, as the first poster said, that way you always have their information on hand if you ever need a recommandation or anything.

  8. I don't have a LinkedIn profile and don't understand the site at all. I'm actually really interested to see what other folks say they use it for. I get invites weekly by people I do not know and have no current interest in networking with. At this point, I feel like it would be worth creating a profile just to be able to turn notifications off! Can I specify "no freelance work/offers"?

    • The site has fairly robust privacy settings. You can also create a public tagline or personal statement that explicitly says what you are NOT looking for.

  9. I have a LinkedIn profile, and I only ever seem to get messages from recruiters trying to "offer" me random sales/insurance positions. To emphasize how ridiculous this is, literally all of my professional experience is in writing, editing, publications, etc. So not even kind of relevant.

  10. I just recently created a LinkedIn profile โ€“ mostly because my dad was badgering me about networking. I figure it will be useful for two things: a) as an "extended resume," as others have said, and b) helping me figure out how to word my resume, by looking at other peoples' pages. I'm a grad student teaching English composition and studying/writing poetry, but I know no employer anywhere is going to see "Poetry" as a "skill" (alas). So LinkedIn's been useful in helping me come up with fancy synonyms for what I do.

    I certainly don't expect to find a job through LinkedIn, though. I hardly expect to find a job at all, for awhile.

  11. First, LinkedIn, in one sense, is essentially an ad for yourself. While an employer may not go straight to LinkedIn for recruiting, you may apply for a job and they may Google you. LinkedIn is typically one of the first (if not THE first) search results that appears when you look for someone. If an employer is going to search for you anyway (and they will), in my mind it makes good sense to have one of the first things they see be an extremely professional, well-crafted resume. The stands in stark contrast to my Facebook profile; though I keep it pretty clean and professional just in case, it's as locked down as I can manage. It's also a bit of a control thing – a search of my name brings up a lot of different things (some are really me, some aren't), and I want to control as much as I can what people see about me on the internet. LinkedIn provides a great platform to do this, with the added benefit of resume building!

    In addition, I work in marketing for a B2B (business-to-business) tech company. As a B2B company, our social media presence is more information sharing/promotion hybrid instead of direct interaction with customers/prospective customers (as it is for a B2C company). Our Facebook page is a bit sad (mostly our own employees), but our LinkedIn company page is thriving. We re-post industry articles, info on events that we are attending, etc., and it is a great way to connect clients who then often go on to share what we post.

    • It is really useful to "promote" yourself with positive content about yourself.
      I like this because it helps you control what prospective employers see. Most won't look past the first page of Google results, so why not try to fill that page with awesome & relevant content?
      Myself, I've also created a few other accounts for online business card sites or other professional descriptions. This is also a reason to buy your domain name and fill it with personal content (CV/resume, publications, volunteering, links to personal causes, etc.)
      I like this because it helps you control what prospective employers see. Most won't look past the first page of Google results, so why not try to fill that page with awesome & relevant content?

  12. Depending on your industry, LinkedIN can be an amazing networking tool. I work primarily in political and social justice organizing. This means moving around like a carnie for work. Your network can grow just from one "action" or event. LinkedIN works great for keeping track of all of these contacts, because you never know if the person you met at the welcome desk while volunteering could be the next field director for a campaign you want to work on.

  13. I've gotten a job offer from LinkedIn, but it didn't work out. I use it, mainly, for the groups. What's terrible is that you have to sift through a lot of garbage. Some people post great, relevant articles in my areas of interest and profession. LinkedIn also sends me relevant job postings if I was willing to relocate, but I'm not right now. Maybe in the future, I'll look at the job postings sent to me.

  14. I use LinkedIn in the same way as everyone else seems to.

    It is a great place for me to have a full list of all my experience. When I'm applying for a job I have one place I can access from any device which reminds me exactly what I did in each role. It also allows me to update my CV from anywhere on any device, so I can add a new project I've starting working on the bus home.

    It also allows me to control what potential employers see when they google me and puts my facebook account further down the list. The basic profile allows you to see some of the people who have viewed your profile so you know who has been LinkedIn stalking you, which has been good to know that interviewers have checked (or not checked) my profile before I go to the interview.

    I know that it has been used by organisers of a conference I attended. As part of the networking lunch your name badge had your job details on it. They got my details off of my LinkedIn, which meant I had control over exactly what was on my name badge.

  15. LinkedIn is something I set up a couple years ago but don't worry about all that much. It is the only place where you will see all the different things I do all together. I do sometimes list a few things on my resume, but I usually leave off my incomplete PhD and I can't explain what I mean by Community Manager and things like that. I've gotten one inquiry about a job that was actually in my field, but I am in a job I'm happy with now so that didn't go anywhere. Aside from that, I endorse friends, keep it up to date just in case, and just keep an eye on what it is since I try to keep up with tech and social media. I'm in a couple communities but I don't generally participate much these days.

  16. I used LinkedIn as an extended resume like a lot of people. Since I work in the film and TV industry a lot of work is found word of mouth or someone refers you to another producer. Its easy for when people google me they see my LinkedIn profile and my IMDB credits.
    I use it to look up camera operators, producers, and talent my area if the company I work for is looking to hire.
    Also funny thing with LinkedIn is that you can see who has viewed your profile (if your privacy settings are that people can see if you have viewed their profile). The boss of a job I just left has looked at my profile every other day since I've left. That's been entertaining to see ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. My LinkedIn is woefully out of date, by at least a year. This is mostly due to me changing my mind about career directions, and never getting around to updating LinkedIn. I had figured I don't need to worry until I get somewhere in my current pursuit, or until I'm preparing to move for my fiance's job. But this post convinced me to update now because what if someone else is willing to move more quickly than my current employer in my career goals? They've kinda put me on hold indefinitely as they shuffle some key management around and while I get the reasoning, I'm also getting impatient because I know my time here is limited by said fiance's job. Maybe someone else has the means to develop my career now…

  18. Ok, I have to say: I find LinkedIN incredibly sketchy. When I was recently looking for an assistant, I didn't check it at all. Here's why.

    My experience on LinkedIN is mostly the billions of emails that people have "endorsed me" for skills I've listed. Most of these endorsers are strangers. How do you know, random person, that I'm good at printmaking? I also get tons of requests to write references. How can I write an even halfway decent reference when I'm not sure who you are and I know we have never done business together or worked together?

    For me, this negates that entire section as completely fabricated (mostly- the only references I actually write are for friends or previous co-workers… y'know, the people that section is MEANT for).

    Furthermore, the site continually adds sections, meaning that my "profile completeness" continually drops if I'm not constantly updating (which I'm not). It's a losing battle with completeness, and my tendency to do complete work (a great skill that only my actual contacts can endorse me for) discourages me from continually striving to get… where, exactly? Is there a cake that arrives when one reaches a 100% complete profile?

    For a while, I participated in some private discussion boards regarding higher education. But man are there a lot of douchebags on that site who don't care that their names are attached to their horrible comments.

    And that's how I use LinkedIN…. or not.

    • Ooh, I hate the "endorsements" too! The site wants you to endorse people. So when you actually do, up pop 4 more randomly chosen ones that are like, "Does [random person I kinda knew in college] know about [insert skill that I've never seen them do]" with a button you can just click. It's so obvious too when people only endorse you so you'll endorse them back. Hence, I have a dozen people endorsing me for skills I haven't really used all year (that they might know little about), and maybe one for skills that I use every day. The runaway effect is also huge there as people pile on to the one skill that has tons of endorsements–all these other people say I'm good at it; therefore I must be!

      I also saw an exchange of references that left me feeling really icky. I know the two people knew each other, but if you actually checked the other one's profile it was so clearly just them trading hollow references that it calls into question all the other references they got. I think the way LinkedIn itself wants you to use the site and get 100% profile completeness leads to a lot of the fakeness that you describe.

  19. I once got a job offer through LinkedIn from a former boss with whom I was no longer in contact otherwise. At the time I was a part time librarian working as a substitute librarian in another county, and a former assistant manager who was by then the director of another nearby system sent me a message saying basically, "Do you want to sub more places? If you do I'll have my HR manager call you for an interview," and the interview was pretty much "When can you start?" So although librarianship isn't really a profession in which many job ads show up on LinkedIn, it did help me there by keeping my network intact.

  20. I landed my last four job positions through LinkedIn. I have recruiters emailing me daily and I find it's been a great way for me to progress quickly through my career. Without LinkedIn I would probably be wasting away in some dank, dark cubicle somewhere.
    It's a great way to showcase my projects, portfolio and recommendations from co-workers. My main rule is I only add professional connections I know directly or have worked with to avoid fake +1's to my skills from strangers.

  21. I don't use LinkedIn, but I do use the academic equivalent – Academia.edu

    For me, it's kind of an extended CV. Some online job applications have a set number of sections that prevent you from including everything you might like to, so it's good to have this information out there somewhere. This is especially true if you have *a lot* of academic publications, or a lot of teaching interests, and can only highlight a few on a job application.

    It's also a place where many people keep free PDFs of their academic work for other academics to read – which is a great and wonderful thing, and makes a huge difference to people finding my work. (I also like that it tells you what keywords people are using to find your articles etc – really interesting!)

    I also keep it updated, like Ariel says, so that I have a CV ready to go at all times. I like that I have a visible and positive professional profile on the internet, that's in my control and not a university department's.

    It also has social networking aspects (such as – you tell it topics you are interested in, and it tells you when people add a new article on that topic). I don't use it too much for that though.

  22. The dangerous thing for me is that I've run into recruiters calling me at work. AT WORK. They know where I work because it's listed on my profile, and so they just look that up from there. It's kind of scary if you think of it. I think though just like anything else in social networking you've got to keep your security settings the way you feel comfortable and then go from there. If people want to get a hold of you…they'll find a way.

    • Ahaha, that happened to me too! Only it was just at an internship, but still. I think the recruiter was from somewhere non-local, and not related to my field (engineering). Cue the awkward conversation about where I'm at and if I'm interested in being a quantitative analyst or somesuch like that–"Well, I'm at my internship, in the office, right now…yes, I like it…um, well, the school year starts up again in a month, so no…"

      I think I told him to contact me by email and I'd get back to him if I was interested. (I was not.) But damn, it's a ballsy tactic to call someone who's listed as having a job, during working hours when they're almost certainly at that job.

  23. I use LinkedIn for networking and jobs. I work in the campaign/political arena. Since these jobs are only during election years and usually 6 or less months in length I connect with a lot of people over a small period of time. This has helped me stay connected to a really nomadic network of organizers who organizer all over the country. I could work with someone in NV on a campaign and next time I talk to them they are in Virginia working on a campaign.

    I also did freelance work and needed to stay connected to clients who have a lot of reoccurring projects.

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