As computers rise to power and the Internet begins to reign supreme it is no wonder that professional networking is moving online.

LinkedInMaze

In the world of recruitment this obviously means a solid Facebook stalk and Google search on potential candidates  (time to rethink saturday nights drunken karaoke video update!). It also means that the days of pounding the pavement with a stack of paper in search of work is a thing of the past. Enter: The digital resume. There is now something to be said about the value of an individual professional website where hire-me-hopefuls can display their credentials, portfolio, and links. The simple addition of a link to your cover letter and you are all set to send it off (electronically of course) to your future employer, who is ever grateful that you are not clogging up his inbox with space consuming attachment. It all sounds so wonderful.

So wonderful in fact that an entire social media platform has been created around the idea. LinkedIn. However LinkedIn endeavours to be more than a giant online jobseeker board, it presents itself as a networking platform. A core purpose behind the site is for professionals to have an online Rolodex of their connections, including their credentials, with whom they can easily communicate. Anyone can see why this would be advantageous. It would simplify the task of out sourcing, a quick search of your connections and bam, there you have a list of all the freelance writers you know. Similarly, remember that great martini you had with that guy from that magazine 2 months ago and he offered to hook you up with a half price full page Ad when your company launches its new product? Now he’s right there on LinkedIn, with the name of his magazine (which you’d forgotten) printed on his profile, and a way to contact him is a convenient click away.

I could wax lyrical about the theoretical benefits of LinkedIn all day but instead I am going to pose a question – is it actually effective?

In LinkedIns public offering document they state: “… a substantial majority of our members do not visit our website on a monthly basis, and a substantial majority of our page views are generated by a minority of our members.” This means that a pretty high percentage of those people you are spending time “connecting with” aren’t even there. You may have just spent hours carefully constructing your profile in hopes of impressing the hundreds of directors listed on LinkedIn, but in reality only a few of them are actively using the site. Chances of them seeing your profile? Slim.

… a substantial majority of our members do not visit our website on a monthly basis, and a substantial majority of our page views are generated by a minority of our members.

Another issue with LinkedIn is that you are at the mercy of your contacts. If John is connected to Shirley and you are connected to John you will have to wait for John to “introduce” you to Shirley. This can be time consuming and may never happen if John is one of those inactive users. Of course you can get around this by using the expensive paid version, but for many companies and individuals that is simply not an option. The connecting process is rather cumbersome and difficult to navigate unlike the point and click method utilised by Facebook.

Once you get connecting with people and start receiving connection requests get ready for a world of spam! Many companies seem to use LinkedIn as a portal for marketing so instead of reading about whats happening in your industry expect to read about the “great deal on printing” being offered.  According to Nipa Shah ”a lot of the users are sales people of companies from offshore countries who bombard us with “Link with me” requests that are purely “sales” pitches.”

Finally, there is very little to stop people from posting fabricated work and study histories. Yes this issue holds true for traditional resumes as well, however companies were not then publicly associated with the ‘creative’ applicant. In the case of traditional resumes employers would contact the provided references to confirm the applicants work history and standard, and that still may be true for people hiring on LinkedIn. But imagine this, Darren lists your company in his work history even though he has never worked for you. Ben had the unfortunate task of working alongside Darren and knows that Darren is useless. After seeing Darren’s LinkedIn page Ben is under the impression that you let this slacker work for you for an extended period and forms a judgement about your company’s work ethic. All of a sudden Ben has a negative impression of your company all because Darren is a liar. Seeing the issue with this lack of regulation?

Despite these issues for some people LinkedIn may still be worth it. This, I think, comes down to the industry you are in and how active LinkedIn is within your industry.

What do you think about LinkedIn? Has it worked for you? We’d Love to hear!