Since LinkedIn launched in 2003, professionals have used it to network and develop their careers. Today, it has become an indispensable tool for job seekers to post their curricula vitae (CVs) and employers to post jobs. We can see that the LinkedIn platform allows members to create profiles listing their education, skills and achievements, while employers and recruiters post positions or search for qualified candidates. Because of this, LinkedIn has gained enormous popularity, including earning the “premier digital platform” title for professionals to network online. It has come a long way since only having about 20 sign-ups a day. Because it managed to optimize its platform with personalization features and company advertisements, the number of LinkedIn connections has skyrocketed to over 800 million registered members worldwide as of January 2022.
Perhaps the most notable advantage of LinkedIn for students and professionals is personal branding, which is in the member’s profile. Sections such as About, Activity, Experience, Education, Skills and Recommendations help members brand themselves as they try to make new connections or interact with existing ones. Additionally, after creating your profile, you will find out that your name is searchable, and more than likely, your LinkedIn profile link will appear on the first page of Google Search results. People who want to get to know you better will likely visit your LinkedIn profile page. Remember, your profile page always leaves the first impression about you, so uploading an appropriate profile picture and writing a good summary in the About section is essential.
Pamela Green, author of “Think Like a Brand: A 7-Step Strategic Brand Plan to Increase Your Career Satisfaction and Success,” describes a personal brand as “the emotional experience you want people to have as a result of interacting with you.” Green’s idea is that as a job seeker, you need to be intentional in how you interact with professionals—be it in person or digitally—so you can leave an impression that drives an emotional connection.
Another advantage for college students is the profile updates of professionals. As a student, you may want to connect with professionals in your field. Skills posted on their profiles can aid you in planning what skills you should strive towards gaining during your education. For example, a computer science student will need to develop technical skills, including data analysis, software development, technical writing and mathematics. Other soft skills such as attention to detail, communication, organization and time management can be equally as important as technical ones in job hunting. Technical skills are typically acquired through classwork and internships, while soft skills are learned first-hand from student clubs and activities.
Although LinkedIn is an excellent platform for students and professionals, it is not without its downsides. One of the downsides I get annoyed by is seeing some connections posting non-career-related activities; it seems as though they don’t know there are other social media platforms for this purpose, such as Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn engagement should primarily be in the realm of career or business development. If we keep seeing personal or social content on LinkedIn, then it will be a waste of time to check updates.
Another flaw of the platform is the abundance of malicious activity by scammers. For instance they may stalk users by sending fake job offers, which can lead to stealing the user’s information. As it is probably known, stealing personal data is fuel for identity theft. Scammers lure users into filling out their personal information such as their full name, home address and credit card information. This can result in selling the user data to other criminals and creating phishing attacks. Hence, it is important for LinkedIn users to be aware of such activities and not share or post any sensitive, personal information on any social media site.
All in all, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for connecting with colleagues and professionals. It helps us create our personal brands, find jobs, make connections and stay updated on others’ professional lives. It is a great resource to grow our professional network. However, as we build our LinkedIn connections, we need to keep an eye out for scams, so we don’t fall prey to criminal activities, especially identity theft.