Come one, come all! Hear the wise prediction for the future of LinkedIn from a man who’s been using for just 1 week! Okay, so this won’t be that far out there, but there’s some truth there. I’m not an expert when it comes to digital networking in business, especially LinkedIn. In fact, I’m fairly biased and guilty of making assumptions and assertions about a site without giving it a fair chance to impress me, but I think that gives me a different perspective on the topic. I really want LinkedIn to be an effective tool that helps me when I graduate and the only way to do that is to play devil’s advocate a little bit and dissect the website through my own lens.
For starters, God help the little guy. For users like myself (students) who don’t have much legitimate experience in the field they want to explore, LinkedIn can make you feel inferior and helpless while you try to build up your profile. I’m a Theology major, but before I started school my experience was mainly working with children with some sprinkles of food service and retail in there just for fun. To be honest, none of that has anything to do with the study of religion or could help me pursue a position in that field. So what am I going to say? “Well yes, since I’ve worked with kindergartners, I believe that experience in invaluable as I can easily translate it to teaching college adults.” So since my work experience doesn’t exactly mesh with my future plans, I have to get creative with how I talk about my skills. Instead of writing what I actually did for an elementary after-school program, which was working with small groups of kids and making sure they don’t kill themselves, I think about that one time my boss asked me to take a parent’s payment and suddenly…voila! I’m proficient with cash transactions.
Now I understand, yes you have to play things up just a little bit in order to promote yourself, but those little fibs eventually turn into “Chad from Yale” telling you that he’s a “global incentiviser who initiates and coordinates transactions between Xylox Pharmaceuticals and potential clients” without mentioning that he’s a telemarketer who cold-calls random people to sell diet pills. Maybe my mantra should be “Don’t be a Chad” instead of “Don’t be a tool”, but then again they might just be the same thing.
Macy Dorman, a classmate, mentions this concern in a piece she wrote about LinkedIn last week.
I’m concerned that I might fall into the trap of digging out a thesaurus and making up for my lack of experience by tossing in some pompous hundred dollar words. That’s just lame.
Now while the users with very little experience attempt to build themselves up through subjective language, those with plenty of real experience are trying to take their profiles to the next level and stand out among their peers. When everyone who’s gunning for a job is pretty much equally qualified, how do you separate yourself from the pack? Well it seems like you can either take a page from our “little guy” book and try to play it up even more or you can stuff your page full of videos and media to show your work. That’s all well and dandy, but if LinkedIn is an upgraded resume, how many employers have the time to go through that much information when they could have a stack of applications to go through?
It’s not like users are even connecting with others that much. For all the talk you hear about keeping tabs on your profile because, just like a resume, you can’t just throw it out there and hope for the best, only about 1% of LinkedIn users check in 30 or more times a month compared to Facebook at 76% according to Quantcast, a site that measures web traffic. In Ashley Tate’s article, “5 Tips on How to Use LinkedIn Better“, she even says for her #4 point:
How frequently do you need to check in?
Every day for a few minutes, and once a week for about a half hour. That’s how much time you’ll need to write to a new connection and to participate in a group discussion.Keep in mind: “Hiring managers are 10 times more likely to look at your profile if you post something at least weekly,” says Williams.
Maybe I’m just looking at this through a faulty lens, like I said, I’ve known LinkedIn for a week so we just started our relationship and I may be asking about marriage a little too soon. In any case, the more I use LinkedIn, the more questions I have and hopefully those will be answered down the line when I really start to look at employers. For now, I’m content with my profile, for better or for worse.
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