I'm one of the few lucky people who has a steady job, one that I don't plan on leaving for a while, barring something catastrophic happening. Meanwhile, I keep getting LinkedIn requests to "connect" to people, usually those I don't know very well. I just accept them and move on, but I wonder whether I should do more with this site? Does it have any usefulness for those who are already employed? Has anyone actually found a job because of LinkedIn?
~Breaking the Chain
I personally don't know anyone who's landed a job through LinkedIn alone, but I don't go around asking people about LinkedIn, and very few of my friends are like, "Hey, I have thoughts about LinkedIn you should hear!" That said, it's a tool like any other, and if utilized properly, it can yield advantages, depending on what you're looking for. It is, however, still primarily used as a job board and storer of resumes, but it does have other functions. As my friend, who is employed and who works in the film editing biz, put it, "I like to think of LinkedIn as an online Rolodex of sorts. LinkedIn lets you check to see what your contacts are up to, if only to see where they're at, where they've been, and who else they may know. It's great if you work in an industry that is ALL about who you know!"
Because networking is still the best way to access professional gains, it doesn't hurt to cast as wide a net as possible. What makes LinkedIn useful? Let's explore.
It's free. And unlike other freebie sites, like Craigslist, you might get something more out of it than 20 used coat hangers and moving boxes. Regardless, free shit is nothing to sneeze at in this economy.
It's popular. According to this Business Insider infographic, 22 million people visit LinkedIn each day. I'm sure some of the uptick in use can be attributed to the crippling recession we've been in since what seems like forever (actually 2009).
It's a research tool. Say you're looking for a pastry chef, which I always am. Sure, you could do a random web search or crowdsource on Twitter and see what shows up, but you could also use LinkedIn, which shows you pastry chefs you're already connected to and might not even know it. Or if you don't know any, then a search will tell you what pastry chefs are near you. And hey, there's the chefs' resumes and contact information. No need to track them down.
It's up to date. LinkedIn is one of the few tools that's fairly well maintained. People tend to keep their information current, unlike on Facebook or some other social media platforms where that stuff tends to languish in favor of amusing charticles and hashtags about injustice.
It requires minimal upkeep. You don't need to keep a LinkedIn profile stocked with relevant links or witty asides about how the Energizer Bunny was arrested and charged with battery. In fact, it'd be weird if you did. Which brings me to...
A (last) word of caution: You can link (oh, I see what they did there) your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile, thus letting your potential employers or business partners know exactly how you felt about Hunger Games and what-have-you. Don't do it. It's redundant. Kthx.