You would be hard-pressed to hear many negatives about LinkedIn these days, especially when it comes to the job search and personal branding. It is very popular to talk about how LinkedIn is the place to be for career networking and the job search.
And certainly recruiters love it.
Let’s face it. It has made their jobs a lot easier. Talk about access to a major database of active and passive job seekers…all at their fingertips for very little investment on their part.
“The resume is dead!” They will gleefully proclaim while they ooze their love for LinkedIn profiles (despite the increasing skepticism over how truthful or accurate most LI profiles actually are AND the fact that the LI profile is essentially a resume in disguise, and not even a good disguise).
Never mind that the hottest trend to hit the hiring industry since the inception of LinkedIn itself, mobile recruiting, is a flutter with the possibilities of using LinkedIn on your smartphone or tablet.
Why, it’s a hiring wonderland!
So Why, Then, Am I Calling It a Wasteland?
Despite LinkedIn’s enormous growth, it is pretty lacking in participation. In fact, those who are participating the most are, well, recruiters and career pros like me and active, very active, job seekers.
Most pros see LinkedIn as a place to throw up a profile, without much effort or thought behind it; add a few connections (the purists will add ONLY people they have worked with); and pretty much forget about the whole thing. Sure, they might join a few groups that sound interesting, but really, who has a lot of time for that?
That is, of course, until they decide to start a job search. Suddenly, they realize that’s where the recruiters are, and LinkedIn takes on a whole new meaning.
LinkedIn is just a reflection of how professional networking in general has always been.
Important when the need arises.
Often a wasteland of inactivity.
Let’s face it. When times are good at work, the last thing you want to think of is networking and career management.
After all, you like where you are and you don’t want to leave. A job search is so dreaded, so why even think of one? And with internal promotions set to be on the rise, who cares about recruiters anyway?
The problem with this mindset, however, is that it ignores a lot of things (and it misses the whole point of LinkedIn in the first place). Here are just a few:
- It’s so much nicer to turn recruiters down when they come to you than to have to chase them down later. After all, they much prefer to steal currently employed professionals than unemployed ones. So optimizing your profile to attract opportunities should be a continuous thing. It is NOT a matter of timing. You can always say, “no.” But just having a profile isn’t good enough. You need to understand how they conduct their keyword searches. Otherwise, they might pester you for jobs you have no interest in.
- LinkedIn has become a professional stalking tool. Your colleagues are checking you out on there. So even when times are good at work, your profile still matters, and it is going to play a role moving forward in internal promotions and in the encouragement of more social media involvement by companies. Companies that were once hesitant about social media are now starting to see some benefit in having their employees represent their brand.
- LinkedIn is really just a numbers game. For those high-minded individuals out there who like to tell you that LI is a more “quality” social media environment, they are skipping over the part that LI rewards those with larger networks and more endorsements with more exposure. It’s that simple. And if you are really good, and build your network up with your target “market,” you will most likely have one effective network.
- Study upon study has been done on the value of a connection. This is a phenomenon I have experienced for myself on several occasions. The mere fact that I shared a similar connection with someone else was enough for that person to feel comfortable hiring me. People want to search their network and the networks of their “friends” to see who they can recommend.
There is no doubt that you can waste a lot of time on social media.
But turning LinkedIn into a wasteland is not the answer either. Instead, finding a way to spend an hour a week on a tool that makes professional networking a lot easier is certainly worth it.
I know…the whole thing seems a little shallow.
Of course it is! All networking has a bit of that in it, no matter how high minded we get about it. But it is a lot less so when it is something you do consistently when you aren’t expecting anything from it than when you only do it during a job search…
Listen. You don’t have to love LinkedIn. You don’t even have to like it much. But ignoring it, especially if you have another 10+ years left to go in your career, is not wise, either.
See it for what it is, and use it to your advantage.