Should I delete my LinkedIn profile?
July 14, 2013 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Should I delete my LinkedIn profile? I currently have a low level, low wage job with the State government of the state I live in. I am looking for a new job that pays more anywhere in my town. I will be applying for a lot of jobs with the local state university. My friend recently got a really good job with the state university and when I asked her if she had a LinkedIn profile she told me she had never even heard of that site so she definitely did not need it.

The reason I want to delete my profile is because I wonder if it harms more than it helps. I have not filled it out completely, and if I do, I worry that all the job descriptions will sound lame, no matter how I make it sound fancy, because basically all I do is shuffle papers and mail things at work. I have under 15 connections. Also, my connections (who are all friends at this point) keep endorsing me for skills for a job I had years ago, which was teaching piano, and I don't really think piano theory and being a pianist are helpful endorsements for future desk jobs I am looking for now. Piano is done for me, but it is listed on my LinkedIn profile because I did that for about a decade and I can’t leave a decade hole in there.
I am worried if I delete it that if my name is googled by a hiring manager I will show some old evidence that I had my LinkedIn profile (LinkedIn FAQs said not all evidence of a profile can immediately be wiped away from a google search) and I don’t know if that seems suspicious to them—to have had a profile that has now been deleted.

The other alternative, is of course, to just fill out everything on Linked In to match my resume, which, I really just don’t want to do because 1) I think it will take me hours (and filling out more forms kind of makes me want to cry) and it seems useless but to have it the way it now is probably worse so I’d rather just delete it and 2) I don’t want my friends reading it. Hiring manager strangers yes, but not my friends. I know that is strange, but I think it is a privacy thing. Even my Facebook profile has very little about me—no public birthday, phone number, and only recently did I add where I live and work to it.

Basically, I’d like to kill the profile and I can’t tell if evidence left on the internet that I once had it is bad, or if I really do need to even have it to get jobs. So far I've only applied for one job at the university, but today I plan to apply for more and I'd like to delete the profile just in case. I am going to be applying for entry level positions at any organization, so I am not even using the site like other professionals may be. That is, I don’t actively do anything with the site ever, until now that I’ve started thinking about getting a new job, and I am not really a big social media person (don’t use Twitter, Facebook minimally, etc.). It feels like an unnecessary burden at this point. Should I get rid of it?
posted by Gmbee to Work & Money (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
No, don't delete it.
- You have no other presence online for anyone who wants to google you, and can use LinkedIn to develop an online image.
- Not knowing how to play the networking game (LinkedIn is part of it) is one thing that will keep you in low wage, low level jobs. Demonstrating you know how to network (minimally: LinkedIn is Level Basic) is important.
- Sure you are applying now to jobs at the university, but what happens if they don't pan out? Where are you looking elsewhere?
- I'll save you the details as they are in older posts, but personally LinkedIn has saved my butt twice already for getting jobs.

Sit down and fill it in. Most of the information is already on your resume, so you can do it with minimal work. If you find a job posting on LinkedIn you want to apply for (you have looked at these, right?), you can apply directly with the information in your profile and stored resume on LinkedIn. So filling out their forms eliminates later ones.

All of the people you are worried about will have this information from your resume (managers) or if they wanted to ask you (friends). Develop the profile, have someone you trust look it over, and then leave it alone until it's time for another overhaul. Sign up for some groups if you want, to look for more job opportunities or read professional advice or just demonstrate interest in the fields you are applying to (e.g. group of the university you are applying to work with.) Important: Add a PICTURE. The picture humanizes you in a very important way that the profile alone cannot do.

For what it's worth, people who are not closely connected to you can usually not see all of your job information or even all of your full name. You control who you are connected to, and can therefore deny all connections by non-professional contacts. This is entirely in your control.

About leaking data: the impression I get from your description is beyond privacy concerns and bordering on weird, and I say that as someone who generally takes care of my own. I have a small presence on social media (NO facebook, twitter, etc) and use LinkedIn and a couple other things as my online profiles.
posted by whatzit at 10:46 AM on July 14, 2013 [10 favorites]

I think you're severely overestimating how hard it is to throw up a passable LinkedIn profile, as well as how much about you such a profile would reveal. What are these bizarre privacy considerations? You don't want your linked friends to know that you worked for Acme Corp as a Chief Widget Designer between 2008 and 2011 where your core competencies included maximizing efficiency in the widget design process as well as supervising a team of 5? Why not??
posted by Pomo at 10:59 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

One person's data point that LinkedIn "doesn't matter" isn't necessarily representative of the entire hiring process for an organization.
posted by radioamy at 11:01 AM on July 14, 2013 [3 favorites]

Most recruiters actively look at LinkedIn and other social media profiles for their candidates. Deleting the account may eliminate you from the running for a position if other people in the running for that job have a fleshed-out profile and yours does not. And if you have a minimalist profile that doesn't even match the resume in-hand? That doesn't really give the best impression, either.

One of my favorite writers on the subject has covered LinkedIn in her blog several times.

The import tool for LinkedIn isn't going to take you hours, unless your resume is formatted in a non-standard way or something odd like that. And if that's the case, you really should think about reformatting it.

You might also try something like Vizify as a way to get a head-start on branding yourself for recruiters.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 11:07 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: As a hiring manager, I Google candidates. It strikes me as very odd if someone didn't have a LinkedIn profile, and it would really raise concerns if I saw that they had one and then deleted it. If a candidate has a profile, and I reviewed it after getting their resume, the only thing that would really raise any concern is if the details on the profile didn't match the details on the resume (different job titles or dates, mostly). A total lack of an online presence for a candidate is a HUGE red flag for most hiring managers. Personally, it makes me wonder if you're hiding something.

I agree with Pomo's comment that you seem to be severely overestimating how hard it is to throw up a decent LinkedIn profile, especially since you already have all the details in your resume. You also seem to be overlooking the fact that you are completely in control of what is shown in your profile.

Don't want to show job details because you think their menial? Just list job titles, employer, and dates of employment.

Don't want to get recommended for piano? Delete that skill out of your profile (which is different from deleting that job out of your employment history).

Do put up a photo, but make sure it's a professional one. I don't mean one that you've hired a photographer to take of you in suit and tie, but something that's clear, only shows you, where you look professional. (If you want someone to take one of you, and you have a friend who owns a camera and is willing, search through Da Shiv's old comments on MeFi about making people look great on photos.)

Join groups, because it shows the hiring managers that you at least are aware of the importance of building and managing a network, even if you don't know how to do it (or don't do it well).

Connect to everyone and anyone you have a professional relationship with, or have in the past. This is how people find you in the future and offer you opportunities, so you can start building a real career.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:08 AM on July 14, 2013 [12 favorites]

I would say, yes: knowing Google as I do, that if you delete your LinkedIn, it'll still show up in search results.

It's *far far better* to spend 30 minutes making yourself look great on it than having some crappy ghost search results that then go to a dead link.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 11:11 AM on July 14, 2013

Best answer: I am in your shoes, in that I'm applying for jobs and recently had a small meltdown about LinkedIn/my internet presence/the whole 'networking' bullshit in general. My feelings on LinkedIn in particular were very similar to yours - I don't mind strangers finding my online profiles, but there are a couple of people from my past where the thought of them looking at my stuff online makes me shudder. I had to go to a mandatory class on networking, which brought matters to a head, but I feel like I'm in a better place with this stuff now.

I decided to keep my LinkedIn profile, and I filled it out so that it's a mirror of my CV. It really didn't take as long as I was afraid it would, since I mostly just copy/pasted stuff from the text document. I found these advantages in the process:

- filling out all my achievements made me feel pretty good about them. You say that your jobs haven't been very impressive, but LI also has space for volunteer activities, projects and interests, languages and skills. It gives you more space to describe what you do and why you do it than a CV or resumé would.
- LI profiles are pretty highly ranked in Google, which means you can easily control the first hit for your name, without having to run around the place sanitising your publicly-available information. (Good for me, since I lean towards the paranoid side on these issues.)
- There's more space on LI for my various jobs and projects than I get on a two-page CV, which means I can include research jobs, data-entry jobs and coffee-shop jobs alike. This makes it a superset of my CV. I worry less about what potential employers will find out about me, since it's all up there and the data-entry guy will find out my data-entry experience, etc.

I don't really think people pay much attention to the LinkedIn profiles of their friends on there. When your friends endorse you for skills, it's not because they're surfing your profile but because LI has thrown up a window with your face and a randomly-selected skill in front of them, and they're clicking "Yes" to get it to go away, rather than "No", because they feel well-disposed to you.

***You can also add skills that are more current/useful for you into your list of skills. These will then get endorsements for the same reason.***

I don't think you need to engage with the site in terms of commenting, messaging, whatever else they want you to do. It's okay for your page to be basically static.

In all sympathy and cameraderie, I think you are making too big a deal out of this, just like I did. All an LI page is is a sign that someone with your name and skills does exist. It probably stops the people who search for you looking much further, since everything (you want them to know) is right there. Job-searching sucks, I know - keep your chin up.
posted by daisyk at 11:20 AM on July 14, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just wanted to say I agree with you that LinkedIn endorsements are really corny, and I can remember giggling on more than one occasion when I see somebody I've worked with who is endorsed for skills they either clearly do not have, or are endorsed by someone who is clearly not qualified to be endorsing anybody in that skill. However, I wouldn't delete your account entirely because of that. You should just disable endorsements - under "Edit Profile", go to "Skills & Expertise", hit the "Edit" button, and you get the option to hide the endorsements.
posted by pravit at 11:36 AM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I used LinkedIn quite a lot in a recent job search:

1. I searched for companies and places I wanted to work (e.g. Cincinnati FooFactory). This told me whether I had any links to that company / place. So if a friend of a former colleague works there, I can ask for an introduction and possibly have a conversation with them about working at FooFactory, what the culture is like, how big the subfoo department is, etc.

2. Did the same thing with fields and location (e.g. Cincinnati foo production)

3. When interviewing, I looked up the hiring manager to see if I had links to them. If so, I'd contact my link and ask them about the hiring manager. "I see you worked with Jo at Foogle, what can you tell me about him?" Obviously a lot depends on how close you are with your link, but in some cases it can be very helpful.

4. You can also use it to get an idea about a hiring manager's background and current role before an interview, and this can come in handy.

5. Recruiters contacted me through LinkedIn regularly, either via common connections or by searching keywords related to my job experience. It takes some experience to know when to response and when to ignore, but working with recruiters did help my job search.

It sounds like you feel down on yourself about your experience, but shutting down your LI profile isn't likely to help you out. You *can* slowly and steadily update your profile. There is nothing wrong with your work history, but if you sit down and think about it you are likely to remember some times when you took initiative and solved problems. That should definitely go on your profile. Any volunteer experience, extra skills, professional organizations - you can fit in a lot more there than you can on your resume.

And connect to more people. This shouldn't be difficult - people are by and large eager to connect. Good luck!
posted by bunderful at 11:53 AM on July 14, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've never had a Linkedin account and have gotten two jobs on my own since its advent. People who think they can't get a job without a Linkedin account are pretty much the same people who think they can't get a date without an OkCupid account. If you are a good qualified candidate no one will give a shit.
posted by any major dude at 3:11 PM on July 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

I get folks contacting me trying to lure me out of my job all the time on LinkedIn. This is a feature, not a bug.

For all the reasons above, work to make a fantastic profile, listing your skills and talents if your jobs don't really reflect them.

Get friends to recommend and endorse you.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:14 AM on July 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Being endorsed for an unrelated skill is better than no endorsements at all. It shows that people with whom you interacted with on a professional basis thought highly enough of you to endorse you, which conveys a lot more positive information to a potential employer than just your piano-playing skill.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2013

In my experience as staff at a university, LinkedIn has virtually no traction. The vast majority of my colleagues don't have a profile, and those that do definitely do not use it heavily. That said, we do google job candidates, so I suppose a well done LinkedIn could potentially help?
posted by raxast at 1:26 PM on July 15, 2013

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