The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Why I Recommend Using LinkedIn
In honor of LinkedIn’s launch date on May 5, 2003, I figured it would be appropriate to write an article about Why I Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn was introduced to me by my Uncle when I was still in college and with a somewhat decent resume. To my Uncle, LinkedIn was the greatest thing that anyone could ever use. It was more professional than Facebook and Twitter. It was the tool of the future, specifically, to connect with companies and display your work. Why would I ever need a LinkedIn profile when I had a perfectly good resume? And oh great, now I have two things to update when something happens.
Over a decade ago, just as I would today, I would have encouraged you to sign up for LinkedIn, but it hardly would have been with enthusiasm. The difference between then and now is a lot. I am older, I am wiser, and I have added a lot more to my resume since then. Not really. In fact, I have stopped updating my resume. I think the last update of my resume was in 2012 when I applied for a job working for a solar panel company as a web developer. Since then, I’ve actually held a job for a while.
I have come to understand that while a resume is still important in the work world, a LinkedIn profile is just as important, if not more important. For resume design, it is almost expected and the standard to have no images, no distraction, and keep it to one page. A LinkedIn profile, as plain as it may seem, allows for much more: A photo of yourself, your most current job listed in your title, and others if you are like me and hold multiple jobs at once, especially if you are a freelancer, than you likely work for many clients or companies. LinkedIn has managed to put all of this on a single page without it looking or feeling like it is too overbearing. You scroll down the LinkedIn page and you get to see a list of jobs, job duties, accomplishments, endorsements, and recommendations. A LinkedIn page is a huge compliment to a resume and would actually be better to show the interviewer than a resume.
Resumes Are Boring
LinkedIn pages are at least more interesting to look at and read, especially when some people get creative. Why companies are still asking for resumes is beyond me. Rather, they should just tell you to include a link to your LinkedIn profile. That will give them all the information about you that they need. As the world adapted to blogging, adapted to social media, adapted to mobile phones, the work world is still lacking in the resume department. A company that still asks for a resume is out of date with the workforce. Besides, LinkedIn profiles are probably more accurate and up to date than a resume. On another note, if your company itself has still yet to list itself on LinkedIn, you are likely missing out on opportunities.
A company that still prints out a resume is also out of date: why are they still wasting precious paper and killing trees? Yes, call me a hippie or a tree lover, but in this modern time, I think about the future. I think about your children’s future. I think about your children’s children’s future. I don’t have any children myself, so I’m doing you that favor. I recycle and I try not to use too much energy or water. In fact, I own solar panels and I only shower three times a week to conserve precious water. I’d rather be drinking it than bathing with it. So you can do your part too, as a company or an individual, and start becoming more green. Go look at some LinkedIn profiles and you will see that the resume is just a plain old boring piece of paper. It might still bring you some excitement, but a LinkedIn profile will do that even better for you.
People use LinkedIn for a variety of reasons, including looking for jobs, getting contacts from recruiters, networking, or showing off their work. Everyone has a different answer, but most of them range within that area. LinkedIn also has an open blog that has a lot of useful information. Confessions of the Professions automatically publishes its own articles to LinkedIn and we do get quite a few readers from there. Although I don’t usually publish any articles on LinkedIn, I do a bit of reading myself. It is especially great when LinkedIn has professional figures who signed up and have LinkedIn profiles. I believe you can find celebrities, of wise persons, such as Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, and Warren Buffet on there.
Objects of Display on LinkedIn
Why I use LinkedIn is for a variety of reasons that might not even seem apparent to me, as I might spend a few minutes every few months updating my profile, and then I may not see my profile again for a while. But I actually use it to keep track of what I do. I am constantly doing a lot of things, from my regular day job, to my freelance job, to my side projects, to helping others with their projects, and whatever else it is that I might be doing. LinkedIn helps me keep track of what I am doing; of what I worked on; of what I did; and sometimes, of what I will be doing. I could easily do this on my resume, but where is that stored on my flash drive or hard drive or which computer do I have it on? LinkedIn is not only a great place to proudly display your work to others, to show off, to give those companies who ‘get it’ a chance to see who you are and a slight glimpse of your personality, but it is an official location with 99.99% uptime that allows you to log on from anywhere in the world, as long as you have your login information, a computer, and Internet, and have access to your profile! More importantly, because most of us are busy, and we don’t always stop to acknowledge all that we have done, it is nice to visit LinkedIn and see all that you have done in actual context.
Sure, you can always go visit your resume, which is buried somewhere on your computer, a floppy disk, or a USB drive. Sometimes it is just lost completely or you might find an old copy that is so outdated, you are missing your last two or three jobs on it. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes, and I know I had this problem a lot: Microsoft Word on Windows and Microsoft Word on a Macbook never keep the exact same formatting. Microsoft Word on Windows and LibreOffice or OpenOffice on a Macbook, despite the extension being a document file, do not keep the same formatting, either. More time is spent trying to get the alignment correct in a resume document than any time spent on a LinkedIn profile. The only way to keep the formatting is to save it as a PDF, but more work is needed to be done if ever you need to actually update your resume. So in essence, at one point, I had two different resumes: One for when I was on my Macbook, and one for when I was on a Windows computer. The fact that you can log on to any computer, login to your LinkedIn account, update your profile, and no matter where you are, no matter what computer you use, the format of your LinkedIn profile remains the same.
LinkedIn is the present and the future. As of 2016, LinkedIn only had 450 million users. This means that LinkedIn has about the populations of the United States, Canada, and England signed up. Why is this number not more? I don’t know what other countries are using, and I know that Russia recently banned LinkedIn, for security and privacy concerns, but the fact is: As much as we might worry about our privacy, LinkedIn is a place of professionalism. Sure, I can visit anyone’s profile and know that for the past 20 years, they worked at all these specific jobs.
Great, good for that person. If anything, his or her path might be an inspiration for me, and can easily tell me the types of jobs are who made them who they are today. While I am sure some people have some horror stories of LinkedIn professional identities being stolen, I am sure it is not extremely common, unless someone is truly in the business of stealing identities. It does happen. But for the most part, as long as you keep your personal and professional lives somewhat separate, there is likely to be no issues.
While I am not sure what I would do if I found myself out of work, I would likely try something new: Instead of an actual resume, I would see what they thought about my LinkedIn profile. My LinkedIn profile contains a lot more relevant and useful information about me. It is similar to my resume, but it is just an easier place to get to on the web. I am no trend-setter, but I would love to see more companies using LinkedIn as their reference for hiring people, rather than an old paper resume, which is likely to have the same exact information.
Passive Activity on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is not a place I visit everyday and you would be lucky to catch me on there more than once or twice a month. The fact is, whether I am active or not, my “resume” and my “display” are still on LinkedIn for all to see. When I need to update my LinkedIn profile, I certainly enjoy the preview upon seeing it again. As I get older and I accomplish more, it certainly gets harder to remember certain things, but it definitely makes me appreciate myself and what I have accomplished. LinkedIn graciously sends an email for the recruiters that want to connect with me, daily updates keep me informed and reading new blog posts, and even lets me know that “people are viewing your profile”, even if it is only 1-2 people actually visiting. LinkedIn is a place I know I can go to review my accomplishments, check up on others’ accomplishments, and see what people are doing for work. It is certainly a great place to check up on someone, view what they are about, see the things they accomplished, but also learn new grammar and ways people present themselves on the Internet in a professional manner.
LinkedIn is not just another social media network, but a professional place of conduct, although I must admit, I am not crazy about the new LinkedIn similarity to Facebook. If I wanted to be on Facebook, I would visit Facebook. I enjoyed the non-social media look of LinkedIn, but times are changing and LinkedIn must do what it feels is best for its future, even if it means adopting a familiar structure of a social media network. Regardless of whether it presents itself as social media or not, it is still a valuable place for professionalism, and they have done well to maintain and portray that about themselves.