Is LinkedIn a necessity in this day and age?
January 18, 2014 7:41 AM   Subscribe

I am job hunting, and my career counselor has told me to set up a LinkedIn profile. I am a naturally introverted, private person, and don't particularly like the implications of social media. Is LinkedIn a necessity in this day and age? Details inside.

Hi all. I am a natural introvert, and I don't really like using social media. I value my privacy and close, personal relationships. I use Facebook as a necessity to speak with friends who live far away, and rarely post; you will never see a photo of food on my page. Even so, I am still disturbed by the amount of information I can dig up on myself through Google. I probably would even feel uncomfortable posting that I had gotten married - I mean, why does the whole freaking world have to know? I would rather just personally tell my close friends and family of major life events such as career changes, relationships, etc.

I would like to possibly make a career change but am averse to using LinkedIn. I hate the feeling of knowing that anyone in the world (including people from my past that I would rather not know what I was doing) can look me up and find out what I am doing career-wise.

My career counselor says that I am shooting myself in the foot if I don't begin to use it. The idea of broadcasting to the whole world my personal details for everyone to see makes me feel icky inside. Do you think that this type of networking is a necessity in order to stay competitive in this era's job market?
posted by Thanquol180 to Human Relations (38 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I don't think it's absolutely necessary. But even if you choose not to use social media to help your search, you will need to "broadcast" your personal details in some form - in person, via email, etc. Finding a good job is all about relationships.
posted by tealcake at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2014

Linked In can be as spare or as spammy/robust as you make it.

Simple profile with your name, companies and the year spans you were there and your titles are enough to confirm you as 'there'. Link up/connect with a few colleagues.

That will give you a basic profile.

If you want you can fill it out with skills, with links to work, with news feed, let it slurp your address book and spew out people who REALLY don't want to be in linked in spammy link requests - but you don't have to.

As for thinking not using linked in will keep people from your past from finding you or knowing what you're up to ... it won't. Anyone who can spell your name can throw it in google and find you, known associates and familymembers, probable work industries, mortgage papers signed and stamped (that one surprised me, to see those papers scanned in fully on line!).

Where you work, what your title is, that's less personal and more professional. It's not a necessity, but it's a rather accepted norm. And once you have a job, you can lock it way the heck down so it's very hard to find you or see your profile by a causal search.
posted by tilde at 7:54 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

While I don't thing you're "shooting yourself in the foot", I do think you're hampering your chances in a bad job market. I was terrified about facebook for years, and then my brother set me up with a fake-y account that I use to keep tabs on my delinquent cousins and their magical offspring.

To be honest, it would help a bit if you told us what your job market consists of. I'd give different advice about what I thought about Linked In if you were in advertising/PR versus enterprise virtual systems management versus human resources.
posted by Sphinx at 7:57 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't use social media, either, but I DO have a linked-in account. It's pretty harmless, honestly. And I don't post any personal details--it's all professional stuff meant for professional means. And I think you can set privacy setting s in certain ways. So, I don't know if it's a necessity, but I think it can't hurt. And I have in the past had employers contact me (I do freelance work occasionally) and ask for a link to my linked-in page.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 7:58 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

A necessity? Probably not an absolute necessity, but if you're a mid-career professional it will make things easier. One of my close friends is a professional recruiter and she scours LinkedIn for people who look like they'd fit her job openings and contacts them. If you're not on LinkedIn, she probably doesn't know you exist, even if she has the perfect job for you.

It's different if you're just starting out so you aren't already qualified for a lot of things, or if you work in a very small niche or at a senior level where everyone already knows everyone who does what you do, but if you've got qualifications, ones that you share with a lot of other people, being on LinkedIn can help people find you.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:02 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

The impression I've had is that the value of a LinkedIn profile can vary a lot depending on your field, so depending on what jobs you're looking for, it may matter more or less.

But look, it's not for advertising your kid's spelling bee championship or that you bought an awesome new car. I mean, I guess some people use it that way, but you don't have to. And when you're job-searching, your previous jobs and titles and things of that nature are not private information - or you shouldn't treat them as such if what you want is a new job. Interviewers are not interested in your past jobs because they are nosy-parkers, but because they are trying to decide if you would be a good fit for their company. Treating that information the way you would your child's medical difficulties is unnecessary.

Make it as easy as possible for people who might want to hire you to figure out if they want to hire you.
posted by rtha at 8:06 AM on January 18, 2014

I'm another non-Facebooker who does use Linkedin. Haven't needed to use it for job-hunting yet, but I have reconnected (said "Hi") with a couple of old friends and associates that I wouldn't have otherwise. Plus I've used it to highlight some of my skills and accomplishments that are otherwise off the radar.

So far I've encountered zero social media bullshit from it, and I actually like having a Linkedin profile.
posted by General Tonic at 8:08 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

The value of LinkedIn varies by industry/field and by how well connected you are.

If you're in a field that doesn't use it much, and/or aren't inclined to make a great deal of contacts, then it's not going to do much for you.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:10 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had a career counselor once tell me that I needed to get a twitter account and model my twitter self after Alyssa Milano because she was really good at personal marketing.

(I also had 4 different career counselors tell me there was only One True Resume style, and that mine was terrible and had to be completely reworked. Note that these were 4 different people with 4 different ideas about what the resume should look like.)

So, take the advice you think will work for you and disregard the advice that doesn't.

I got a job without a twitter (or linkedin, incidentally) and by reverting my resume to the original one I had before getting it tweaked by a bunch of different bullshit artists. YMMV.
posted by phunniemee at 8:12 AM on January 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Think of LinkedIn as the electronic version of your resume -- no need to put any more information on there than you would on a resume you send to a hiring manager.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:14 AM on January 18, 2014 [9 favorites]

You don't have to be social on LinkedIn. It's mostly useful as a way for people to get a hold of you – people that you otherwise wouldn't be in contact with. For example, I got a job as a result of a colleague from a previous workplace contacting me through LinkedIn. I wasn't a personal friend of his, so otherwise, he wouldn't have had a way to contact me years after our mutual employment ended.

I think it's worth just having a basic profile up there for that reason. You don't have to have any personal details up or even name which companies you worked for.
posted by ignignokt at 8:19 AM on January 18, 2014

How much does having an online profile really impact your introversion? You post it, you update it as necessary and you can ignore it most of the time. People don't chat with you, you don't have to join any groups, you don't have to even look at the messages, if you don't want to. You can set the privacy settings in various ways so that not everyone can look at your entire career or resume. (And one reason you might be so google-able is if you use the same user name on a number of sites--ever done a search? You'd be surprised how many people do that and how much information can be gleaned that way. Worth thinking about, if privacy is a concern.)
posted by Ideefixe at 8:22 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

+1 to all the posts above saying you should just use it. This past Thursday I was having drinks with a friend I hadn't seen in a few years. He told me that he wasn't using any social media at all except LinkedIn. Just before I could offer my opinion about what a joke LinkedIn is, he told me that after being out of work for over a year, someone contacted him via LinkedIn about an opportunity that was right up his alley and now he's got a job he loves.

As with any social media, basic rules apply - don't post anything you wouldn't want to become public and be cautious about who you respond to. Other than that, go for it.
posted by robverb at 8:35 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you think that this type of networking is a necessity in order to stay competitive in this era's job market?

LinkedIn is not "networking" so much as "making your resume available." If you're serious enough about jobhunting that you have retained a career counselor to help you out with it, then having a LinkedIn account is probably something you should be doing. I also found that the job listings on LinkedIn were superior to the sort of thing that I would find on

It's not so much "social media", IMHO. It's not about being social so much as a professional's tool. That said, it's more for people with office jobs or the self employed.
posted by deanc at 8:36 AM on January 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

Sorry I don't have the link - but I read recently that something like 90% of employers are checking your Linkedin page before hiring.
posted by cda at 8:40 AM on January 18, 2014

Yet another non-facebooker/nontwitterer/nonpinterester/non-anything who uses LinkedIn.

jbickers mentioned on another thread that it's like an automatically update online rolodex, and it is -- for you, and for people you've worked with who want to work with you again.

I find some of the industry groups I subscribe to very helpful. There's a connection there who collects and forwards job opportunities all the time.
posted by mochapickle at 8:42 AM on January 18, 2014

I'm not a fan of social media, either, but I've found LinkedIn useful. No one's ever offered me a job through LinkedIn, but it's a good way to keep track of people I've met while networking in person. It's like an file cabinet of people that I sometimes refer back to if I hear about a relevant opportunity or have a quick industry related question one of them might be able to answer.
posted by breakfast for dinner at 8:47 AM on January 18, 2014

I hate Facebook but I'm on LinkedIn. It helps me connect to other people in my field and serves as an online resume. You can lock it down, but unlike Facebook they don't change the privacy settings every three months to be completely useless.
posted by winna at 8:50 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Linkedin isn't really social media. They're trying hard to make it that, because it increases page views, but that's about building value to the company. Its value to you as a free member with a basic profile is that recruiters see it -- it's the single most common tool they use for sourcing candidates. So if you are in the job market, yes, you should have a profile. You don't need to share anything personal. But do put your degrees, your last couple job titles, and - most importantly - since recruiters use keyword searches to find you, make sure that in your overview you have a basic descriptive sentence of what you do, and a list of skills you want to be findable by.

(I find personal sharing on Linkedin to be inappropriate. Some people like to do it to raise their page views and build personal brand. I find this gross.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 8:58 AM on January 18, 2014

Please consider: there could be a hiring manager out there who thinks like you do, valuing close personal relationships, who will be relieved to find someone like you who doesn't use LinkedIn.
posted by amtho at 9:03 AM on January 18, 2014

The creators of LinkedIn are known for their scummy business practices, and they have unfortunately succeeded in making their service ubiquitous enough that hiring companies have begun wondering what's "wrong" with people who don't have one. And so more people create an account our of fear, and the people who don't have one seem even more "weird."

It's an ugly phenomenon, far worse than other social media which is usually just for fun. LinkedIn blackmails people for their livelihood, and blatantly encourages discrimination by the attaching of photos, etc. of job applicants.

It's a mostly useless service and the people behind it are trash. That said, I have a token account.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:06 AM on January 18, 2014 [7 favorites]

Oh, and one thing... You can set your account so that you see who is looking at your profile. This can be helpful information, but can also be unnerving... I had an ex look at my profile five days ago (from literally the other side of the planet) and I was heebie-jeebied out for the better part of an afternoon.
posted by mochapickle at 9:21 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

My take: LinkedIn is better for passive job hunting, when you already have a job and are not actively looking -- LI allows people to find you. As a couple of commenters have noted, recruiters use LI quite a bit these days, at least in certain industries (I can only speak for IT, where it is ubiquitous). The other uses for LI are if you are trying to get an introduction somewhere and don't have an "in" already (like an advertised open position), or for reference checking in the other direction (you've applied for a job, and someone on the hiring side is wondering if you know anyone in common). Bottom line: if you are actively looking, it isn't necessary.

Note that the way LI works, if you set up an account, it will almost certainly be found by your co-workers immediately, as LI will helpfully suggest to both you and them that you should connect. So if you are trying to keep your job search secret, that could be a problem.

If you do choose to use LI, I would encourage you to look at some of the other threads on LI, or do some googling about best practices. In a nutshell: you'll want to fill out *all* of the questions/blanks; state that you are open to new opportunities (noting my above caveat about your co-workers seeing all of this); and selectively join a couple of LI groups.

Good luck with your search!
posted by kovacs at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am <50,000 LinkedIn join number and use it every day for work (and I am not a recruiter) and ignore ALL social media aspects of it ... but it is important for you to realize that the free member experience of searching and browsing LinkedIn is NOTHING like that of someone with a $20/month business account which is again NOTHING like that of someone with a $500/mo recruiter account. If you are extremely privacy conscious, supply delimited details.
posted by MattD at 10:03 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Think of LinkedIn less like a facebook profile and more like an internet resume.

Do you feel like your resume is a personal and private document, and you wouldn't want people to know what you do for a living or what companies you've worked for in the past? Probably not, right? So.
posted by Sara C. at 10:05 AM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Sorry I don't have the link - but I read recently that something like 90% of employers are checking your Linkedin page before hiring.

I believe it. In fact, when I do a quick search on a candidate and turn up nothing on LinkedIn, it raises red flags.

Please consider: there could be a hiring manager out there who thinks like you do, valuing close personal relationships, who will be relieved to find someone like you who doesn't use LinkedIn.

I think that's pretty unlikely.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 10:37 AM on January 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

Other things to consider:
1. First thing I do when scheduled for a job interview is look at the interviewer's background on LinkedIn. Looking for shared connections/interests and discussing them in an interview is really helpful.
2. I personally like the updates when my former coworkers find a new job. I find the names of their new employers interesting.
3. It is also a handy tool for reaching out to former coworkers long after you've lost their original email addresses are gone. People will get back to you.
posted by crazycanuck at 10:47 AM on January 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

One thing about LinkedIn that I find very useful is that it alerts you when your contacts get a new job. Every time you see something like "John Smith has just taken a job at company X" you can now think both "Oh, hey, company X, I'd like to work there, and now I know someone" and also "Oh hey, John Smith left his job, I wonder if his old place needs to hire a replacement. Maybe I should send them my resume."

Have I ever been offered a job thanks to LinkedIn? No. Has it led to interviews and serious discussions about jobs I would certainly consider? Yes, more than once.

I see it as a useful professional tool, and a good way to market myself without having to go to BS "networking events" that are generally a waste of time.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 11:13 AM on January 18, 2014

As others have mentioned, you can have a placeholder kind of account on LinkedIn. Recruiters do scour the site and real action is found in the moderated forums. LinkedIn has started being kind of spammy so do NOT give them your address book or access to any of your other apps.

I simply established the general resume points. You want to show that you are cognizant about your online presence and social media BUT choose to be conservative and discrete. There is no shame in that at all.

It is a tool that is handy for research but like anything needs to be carefully used.
posted by jadepearl at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am an IT consultant for 25 years. I'm an introvert too. I wouldn't go near Linkedin. I have an account with nothing on it. It is a giant privacy/data collection, annoyance machine.

As one replied, "Think of LinkedIn as the electronic version of your resume." and for some unknown reason I don't want the whole world to see my resume.
posted by nogero at 11:43 AM on January 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I have have only experienced it personally a bit, but Mrs. Primate, a denizen of Fortune 50 companies has: LinkedIn is the new HR. It's the very first and assuming your resume/C.V. passes muster only stop at HR deterring what goes on the pile of printouts to the hiring manager. When you have one job to fill and 150 resumes/C.V.s and you need to send your internal "client" a list of 10 candidates in two days, what the hell else can you use?

So yeah, get thee to LinkedIn. There is local help.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:20 PM on January 18, 2014

Yes, most recruiters actively look there for candidates. Most managers actively look there first for profiles and in my large retailer company, most managers first look there to size out a candidate.
posted by ladoo at 1:52 PM on January 18, 2014

I feel the way you do, I but find LinkedIn useful for research. You can search for people by industry or job title and find out what experiences helped them get their jobs. I'll probably drop my account once I get established in a career, though.
posted by Comet Bug at 2:47 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

A necessity? No. People still get jobs the old-fashioned way, which is they apply either because they saw a listing or someone told them about it or someone recommended them. You can still get a job without having a LinkedIn so if it bothers you, don't do it.

LinkedIn hasn't been too useful for me. One time a guy in my field reached out to me because he seems to be huge on networking in my field. He owns his own firm and I think he wants to find both talent and business opportunities. That was it. We exchanged messages and "connected" on LinkedIn. A few months later I saw his firm was hiring consultants for projects. I needed a short-term gig and since I had already "met" him, reaching out was very easy and it turned out to be a good gig. But he was the one with the premium LinkedIn account who used it to network and message people. My account just sits there. I don't there I can message anyone using my free account. I can only invite them to connect and add a message whilst doing so.

I do think LinkedIn isn't very private. See my rant in this AskMeFi thread. I'm an introvert like you and social media does make me uncomfortable, but in some ways, I do think you need to brand yourself. You can control what people are finding when they Google you because they *will* find stuff when they Google you. Honestly, I have a common name and I'd rather I have my own space and be like, "I am this AppleTurnover. I am not the AppleTurnover with the goth Twitter avatar or the one who practices scientology. I don't run a mommy blog either."
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:58 PM on January 18, 2014

My career counselor says that I am shooting myself in the foot if I don't begin to use it.

If you are in the corporate sector, I would agree with this. My partner is a recruiter - someone without a linkedin profile means questions about them can't be answered without an interview, and there are lots of other candidates with linkedIn profiles, so she can filter before the interview process. Wouldn't always be a deal-breaker, but raises questions, as generally people without a LinkedIn profile are either a) Old and kinda clueless when it comes to basic IT literacy, or b) Have something to hide about their employment records.

People like you, who just don't like it, are an ever-shrinking group.
posted by smoke at 3:30 PM on January 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am sorry to say that I think smoke is right. The business world is going through a sort of revolution. The walls are coming down, and I would think that before very long -- maybe 10 years, maybe less; maybe 15 -- people will have to look up the word privacy because they will not understand what it means. At the least they won't understand the nuances. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it'll be hard for some people to handle.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 3:44 PM on January 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

I found my last two jobs on LinkedIn.
posted by COD at 7:38 PM on January 18, 2014

I think it depends a lot on your field. I don't know how it works in non-software industries, but in software, as a hiring manager, I'm dubious about anyone who doesn't have a LinkedIn or github account.

Also, especially if you're just starting out, setting up a LinkedIn account as recruiter-fodder is a good way to get job opportunities you might otherwise miss.

Increasingly, recruiters are cold-calling good looking LinkedIn profiles, and skipping advertising the job on job sites.
posted by colin_l at 5:54 AM on January 19, 2014

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