She broke my heart when she asked, “Is LinkedIn the same as Career Builder?”

by Rich DeMatteo on February 15, 2011 · 27 comments

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Something very disturbing happened to me last week and after I pulled my jaw up off the floor I realized I needed to share it here.

A recent college graduate that I’m friends with on Facebook had a status that said, “Jobs….Jobs”.  Naturally, I sent a private message to see if I could help her in anyway.  We went back and forth a bit through private messages, talking about the kind of job she was looking for (entry-level marketing) and what she was doing in her job search.

Eventually, I asked her if she was using LinkedIn.  Want to know how she responded?

“Is Linkedin the same as Career Builder?”

Yes, she really asked that.  A recent college graduate had no idea what LinkedIn does, what it is, or even knew it existed.  That just kills me.  It crushes me.  I was almost angry.  Actually no, I was and am still a little bit angry.

I began explaining to her how it works and why it’s an effective career tool.  Her next statement literally sent my jaw about 4 inches lower.

“What is the address (URL)?”

She literally asked me for the website address.  Either she didn’t know how to use google or is really that lazy.

Who is to blame?

Is it her fault?  Her college?  Should LinkedIn take the blame?  Honestly, who is to blame here?

She’s a good kid.  I haven’t known her very long at all, so I can’t comment on her character.  I was a little angry she didn’t go to google and type in Linkedin, or at least guess and type “LinkedIn.com” in her browser.  But, it’s not her fault.

The college she attended has a very active career services department.  I know for a fact it isn’t their fault.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know who is to blame here.  I’m seriously asking for your thoughts and opinions, because I just don’t get it.

We aren’t talking about a small website.  LinkedIn has over 90 million users in 200 countries.  It even started around the same time Facebook did.  Over 80% of recruiters go to Linkedin before anywhere else for talent.  I mean, this is a big time website here.

So why?

What’s your answer?  We can all say that Facebook and Twitter are flashier and more fun, but why else is LinkedIn flat out avoided by many?  Let’s discuss…

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27 comments
Heather
Heather

As a recent college graduate myself I can relate to the misunderstandings regarding the function of Linked In. I joined at some point in college and did not understand, for lack of a better explanation, the way the site worked and eventually deleted my account. Now, as an active job seeker I have re-opened an account and try to use it. I am afraid that there is still much that I do not understand about how the site works, but that is not what I want to address here. I was put off by Linked In initially because it was explained to me as a networking tool for connecting with co-workers and classmates. Well, I did not need to re-connect with my classmates. Not only did I see most of them on a daily basis but I had their emails and connect with them through Google updates, Facebook, and twitter. Similarly my co-workers from Sub Zero Ice Cream (for example) were college and high school students. How would that ever help me? Without being able to see the benefits of a Linked In profile, and I couldn't, there was no point to trying to figure out how to use it. Someone else mentioned that " much of the initial appeal of LinkedIn had to do with the ability to professionally network without actually looking for a job. As many have remarked, college students aren’t necessarily taught that skill while in school." This is definitely true. I like to think that in my major we are taught more of these skills then in many other departments. I know how to network and to "work a room". Public speaking doesn't scare me and I know how to advertise. I was definitely taught how to 'network' my way into introductions. What never occurred to me until I started following career blogs was that I could translate these skills into my personal job search. I have friends who made this connection earlier and were able to become gainfully employed after graduation. I am very comfortable representing a company. I am comfortable introducing myself and my skills as a member of company X. But to market myself without that backing? That is terrifying. To create an entire profile just doing this and present to professionals with real time and experience? I feel like I stepped off a pier into very deep water. Why should I be so presumptuous to think that these busy professionals, who are using this amazing tool to connect with their peers would ever be interested in me?

Omowale Casselle
Omowale Casselle

Hi Rich, I'm not surprised at all that your friend hadn't ever heard of LinkedIn. If you look at the demographics of the user set (source link below), you'll see that almost 80% of the userbase is the age range of 25-54+. Although, they don't provide further insight into the 18-24 age range that makes up the remaining 20% of the site, I would imagine that most members of this group skew towards the upper end of that range: 22-24 years old (i.e. those who are nearing graduation or have already graduated). Also, if you look at the distribution of the membership base geographically, more than 50% of the members reside outside of North America (likely dominated by US members). So, we can say that approximately only 1/6 of the US population knows about or is using LinkedIn. I think much of the initial appeal of LinkedIn had to do with the ability to professionally network without actually looking for a job. As many have remarked, college students aren't necessarily taught that skill while in school. I would say that most people don't truly value the importance of a network until they make their first job change. For a new graduate that could be anywhere from 1-5 years after graduation. So, there is definitely a lot of room to educate college students on the value of building their network (online & offline) and actively pursuing opportunities while they are still in school. I think that LinkedIn has recognized this demographic split which is why they are developing products to better meet the needs of students. Source of Stats: http://www.slideshare.net/amover/linked-in-demographics-and-statistics-2011 Omowale Casselle

Teri Fujii
Teri Fujii

Hi Rich, I"m not surprised that she didn't know about Linkedin. Whenever I mention Linkedin to college students or new grads, most have not heard about it. My own son and daughter (college grads from a respected university) did not know about Linkedin until they heard about it from me. My daughter even worked at the college career center. She was trained to assist students in resume writing and use of the university's job board, but Linkedin was not part of her training. (Interestingly, as a grad student in a College Counseling program, she did a project on Linkedin--a powerpoint presentation that could be used to teach students about it.) The other group that seems to be unfamiliar with (and not very interested in) Linkedin, are the professionals in their 50's--comfortable and established in their careers. Yet as a Corporate Recruiter, I have heard too many stories of people who were unceremoniously laid off after a 25 to 30 year tenure with the same employer. In these economic times, one cannot afford to ignore networking tools like Linkedin. Your friend's apparent lack of motivation is another issue. It reminds me of my annoyance and surprise when jobseekers call about job openings and then scramble to find a pen to write down the info. Or worse yet...when applicants ask me to email a reminder about their interview. Really? They need a reminder about an interview? from the propective employer? I'm not sure what these people are thinking...or not thinking. Thank you for writing this post. You raised some interesting issues.

Diane Prince Johnston
Diane Prince Johnston

Hi Rich. Lazy? Not sure. Perhaps she doesn't care. It sounds to me from the evolution of your interaction with this gal that she was simply venting. You are the one who reached out to her to see if you can help her. She did not seek help. Trying to help someone who does not want help is futile. In the real world, job seekers need to be self motivated. Just my thoughts...

Julie Walraven | Resume Services
Julie Walraven | Resume Services

I've been in the career industry since forever and though this may seem shocking to you, it isn't to me. 75% of my new clients have never heard of LinkedIn and if they have they don't have a presence there and of the very few that do have a presence, often it is not optimized with keywords, complete summary, branding statement, and accomplishment-driven statements. Some of my clients create their own after speaking with me but even when I have coached them on the correct method, they still skip steps. Of course, I write them for some of my clients but not everyone sees the value of the investment. Generational issues don't seem to affect success in understanding LinkedIn nor does the socioeconomic status. I have high level executives who are clueless and brand new graduates who are still confused about career search in general as well as how to use LI effectively. I can tell you that the success rate of my clients is directly proportional to their willingness to use networking, social media, and back door strategies to find their next position. I would guess that is universally true.

Kimberly Roden
Kimberly Roden

Wow. That's a tough one Rich but I'm not very surprised. My son is a co-op student at Drexel and he's on LI because I told him to. None of his friends in school are on it nor does the school talk about it. The students get their jobs through the school, but the jobs are real life gigs w/great experience and I would think that making that company/business connection (networking!) would somehow enter the picture when the kids are polishing up their resumes for the next co-op cycle. I encouraged my son to connect with his interviewers on LI and he did. Now, he's connected to the entire firm where he's been working and he's invited other students. My daughter is at LaSalle and they're starting to do resume work but when I mention LI, she just poo-poos me (well, that's partly because I suggested it, too!) Wants nothing to do with it and school doesn't talk about it. Perhaps there's an opportunity here for schools to incorporate business networking into their career/resume programs. I guess the teachers would need to be familiar with LI and also understand the benefit before that would happen. Also, if the kids have no other exposure (parents, other students) to LI, they may learn about it exactly the way your friend did.

Cindy Loftus
Cindy Loftus

You're killing me Rich because I know exactly how you feel... Many of our sitters are college/university students and I talk with them about what they want to do when they graduate. I've asked each of them if they've ever heard of LinkedIn - not one of them - until I told them. Only one took me up on the offer to take a look at it and explain how it works...still doesn't have a profile up...argh! I explain 80% of recruiters go there before posting or that they could really get a leg up on the competition for internships and their first entry level position... On the flipside I have many seasoned friends/colleagues that are looking for jobs but simply don't like the idea of LinkedIn...even after I explain how crucial it is to their search. I'm guessing when their asked to "submit your profile" in the near future...they'll join...

Jen
Jen

What puzzles me about this person is that she is looking for a job in marketing yet she had not heard of LinkedIn. I just can't imagine going through 4 years of education to get a degree in marketing and never once hearing about it. That's like saying I want to be a doctor, but I've never heard of Johns Hopkins. Just to clarify something though... not sure one's education level has all that much to do with it. This just goes to show that a degree means jack in some cases. A friend of mine told me about LinkedIn when our company went out of business and everyone was moving on seperately. We all wanted to keep in touch and be references to each other however we could. All of us are intelligent people, but none of us have degrees. I think we were just all pretty motivated by the fact that we were gonig to need jobs, so we did all of the research we could and found many resources to help along the way. We were all grown adults with mortgages to pay and children to feed, not living with our parents and only worried about the next big sale at the mall or what bar has beer specials tonight. So all I can do is chalk this one up to a lack of motivation. I don't believe for a minute that she doesn't have the intelligence or the resources, she clearly just doesn't care. Like a lot of kids graduating today, they just expect jobs to land in thier laps.

Jason Davis
Jason Davis

Interesting indeed. A few thoughts.... Of course you know about LinkedIn. You're a recruiter, and what better space to go to for potential candidates than a site that says, "hey, we don't care if you are actively looking, but here is a well designed space to showcase your work"... sign me up! But more and more, LinkedIn is about recruitment advertising and recruitment services. It's there for job seekers, but it's business model REALLY caters to recruiters..... BUT, user base doesn't lie - at the end of 2008, there were 32 million registered users. At the end of 2010, there were 90 MILLION. If you aren't one of the 90 million, you should be asking yourself why, and more importantly why 90 million other people knew about this site and you had no idea. But, this doesn't mean that every college senior is intimately familiar with LinkedIn. Career services approaches vary a lot by school, and as someone else mentioned, most jobs are found through active networking, which is more of an acquired skill (and personality driven too!). Can we chalk a little of this up to the lack of integration of social technology in the classroom/curriculum? Seems like in today's times, something like this should be so obvious... At the end of the day, her question isn't THAT far off the mark (i.e. comparison to CareerBuilder). LinkedIn is, by most measures, a modern day job board with some additional services (Career Explorer, etc.) to facilitate the candidate to company interaction. With that said, as Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid". If you are in school today, and don't know how to use Google, and are generally unaware of social technology that help to make networking infinitely easier, you are starting WAY behind your peers.

Ty Abernethy
Ty Abernethy

Hey Rich. Funny story man. You know, I have some friends with younger siblings just graduating from college and they are similarly clueless. They've heard of LinkedIn and know basically what it is (and that it's different than Careerbuilder!), but they don't really get it or why it's such an important part of a job search. So many colleges do a terrible job of preparing students for finding a job after they graduate.

Jenn
Jenn

I graduated in May and while my college classmates and I were all very up-t0-date on job hunting tools and strategies, many of my high school classmates are still lagging behind. Maybe it was a product of my university; a combination of tough academics, motivated students, and engaged professors that gave us such a huge lead in all of this. But for the kids I graduated high school with that didn't end up at places where that community existed, they're totally in the dark. They spend their time on Facebook complaining about job hunting, or have chalked it up to the economy and taken a retail position. It's shocking to me how few of them have LinkedIn profiles, and the few that do haven't filled out their complete profiles. You're right that LinkedIn is huge and should be well-known by now, especially for graduating seniors concerned about getting a job in this economy. I bet that if students and recent graduates don't even have a LinkedIn profile, they're not exploring other modern methods of job hunting and networking either. Part of me feels bad that they're struggling, but then I remember how easy it is to take advantage of these FREE services and I stop feeling bad. Think there's a version of Darwinism/survival of the fittest for job seekers too? :)

Ed Han
Ed Han

I participate in 2 job search/support groups. As something of a LinkedIn fiend, it doesn't surprise me terribly that more experienced people who didn't grow up with the Internet aren't familiar with LinkedIn. I'm slightly surprised if by the time I meet them they haven't--but if that happens, I make sure I fix it. But in the case of this candidate, I'm flabbergasted. For someone who basically has never known a day without IP addresses, I cannot understand how this is possible. I'm not angry: I'm utterly perplexed!

Bridget Forney
Bridget Forney

It is absolutely her own fault. These websites don't just discover themselves. And LinkedIn is a large enough network that has appeared online in news, on morning television shows and has appeared in popular culture numerous times. Thus, her not knowing about LinkedIn is evidence of much larger problems. Her ignorance not only shows that she does not read the news, but that she is not taking her job search, let alone her personal and professional development, seriously. It was nice of you to reach out to her, Corn, but honestly it's people like her who give Millennials a bad name. She says, "what is LinkedIn?" I say, "No wonder you're unemployed."

Shane Mac
Shane Mac

Getting mad at profound ignorance is never a good thing. There are so many sites everywhere and just because we have heard of it and others haven't I never get surprised when people haven't heard of websites, however large they may be. Profound ignorance, "I don't know what I don't know," is our greatest strength. It is those who help educate and guide that solve the problems. We all hear of 50 new websites everyday and I really if we went and looked at all of them then we would probably be wasting a lot of time. I would expect you to answer me with context if you told me to go to LinkedIn and I had never heard of it. The first thing I would ask is why? I would expect a reasonable, straightforward answer that shows value and then I would check it out. Otherwise, why waste my time? You referred it so shouldn't you explain it? The bigger part of this is that Colleges are not up to speed. The reason I try to speak at as many colleges as I can every year is because I didn't know about LinkedIn either when I was there. I probably still wouldn't today. It's not what we were taught and we really didn't know better. Opening students eyes to the reality of the new connected world we live in is sometimes unbelievable to me yet very rewarding when we get to help guide them and explain "Why" they should use these types of things. Remember when we first started and you only have 1 connecting... It's hard to see value and it takes a lot of time. If you don't really know how much time it takes or how valuable it is then why should you do it? We need to teach. Help. Explain. Look at these comments from my last speech... They just didn't know what was out there and this is truly rewarding http://cl.ly/3t3k3T091C250I1k1J13 As for Career Services... I know some good ones as well. The problem is that who actually goes to them? If people do go they usually go for specific tasks (in my memory) to get a resume reviewed or write a cover letter... I don't remember many people going for "training" on everything social and careers, although many might have. At the end of the day, I would never be surprised if people haven't heard of websites or understand their value. It is inherently a social thing and if the social group that you associate with isn't on them either then it is hard to understand the effort needed to really make it work. Networking is not easy and is a skill that is not taught in College. Everyone says you need to do it yet there is no book on really standing out. Also, not every network is right for every person which I think you have said before yourself. There are many other niche communities besides LinkedIn that don't have everyone just shooting for a 500+ number and spamming recruiter messages at me all day that may be more valuable. It's all about people no matter where you are but just always remember that one thing... Profound Ignorance: "I don't know what I don't know..." So why don't you just tell me? Good thoughts Rich.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Omowale - Great comment. Thanks! Thanks for bringing some numbers into the discussion, and also for pointing out that LinkedIn is starting to push initiatives for the younger folk. And good point. 1-5 years after is when the network definitely plays a part more, but a well connected individual out of college I feel will still benefit from it and be better off than less networked peers. Thanks for the comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Teri - Thanks for your comments! Very interesting about your kids and good point about those who get laid off. It's a great tool that can not be ignored. Thanks for your comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Diane - Thanks for your comments! Well, I'm 100% sure she wasn't venting. That's what I do know. She wasn't upset or angry or in a bad mood. There was definitely no venting. You might be right when you said "She doesn't care", but definitely not venting. And I agree, the self motivation might not have been there.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hi Julie - Thanks for your comment. Wow! So, 75% of new clients don't know a tad about it. That's very high and kind of alarming to me. It's also interesting that you say their success rate is dependng on their willingness to use tools like networking and social media. Thanks for stopping by!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Kim - Thanks for the comment. Very interesting about your son and daughter and I'm glad you shared their experiences. I do think that schools want to push this, but when students come in for help, it is for immediate help (resume, cover letter, job) and not a long term focus like LinkedIn provides. I'm sure they try to push it, but it doesn't resonate. I think there is definitely an opportunity for schools. You're 100% correct there and teachers would surely need to be familiar. Thanks for your thoughts!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Cindy - Thanks for the comment! It really doesn't appeal to everyone, and I think to be successful on LinkedIn, you must love to network and connect with people. It takes work and time to develop a strong network. The second they are asked to "Submit" I bet they'll join. I agree with you.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jen - You make some great points and thanks for commenting. Right, it's not like she was an education major. She was in a field that really is a perfect match for LinkedIn. What concerns me is that if any of her friends were using it, they would have told her. Can it be that her whole group of friends are unaware of LinkedIn? And very interesting story about you and your coworkers finding the resources you need. I do feel that a ton of new grads just expect a job. Many do go above and beyond and stay on top of things, but man still hope and pray for something to fall in their lap. Thanks for the comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jason, thanks for the comment! You're right. Definitely built for recruiters. That's the reason I jumped on Linkedin in 2005 when it launched. You make great points and maybe it is the lack of integration in class room settings. Maybe CB and LI aren't that different in the end, but I think in the end they have some big differences. LI is seen as a long-term tool, meant for managing your network, building relationships, and staying connected to like minded professionals. CB is a short-term tool to help you land a job NOW. Once you land the job people move away from it. LI takes work and consistency. Maybe that's why folks don't use it? It's not a simple hour or two, it's an ongoing process to be successful with LI.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Ty - thanks for stopping by! Hey, at least they've heard of it!! I think you're right. Some colleges do a terrible job, but some students just don't want help. They don't believe their career services office can actually help them. I think that's sad and kind of tragic.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jenn - Thanks for adding in your thoughts! I think we are getting to something here. I believe knowing about something is really about the circle you run in. Sure, I think that any college graduate should know that LinkedIn is a website. But, if none of her friends were aware (hard to believe) and no teachers or professors brought it up (also hard to believe) then how would she know? Well, I'd hope that she'd google career stuff and find LinkedIn on her own, but that's not always the case. You see how easy it is for a community to form our activities, both personal and professional. You were in a group of highly motivated and hard working students, so someone came across LinkedIn and shared it with the group. Your high-school friends weren't so lucky and haven't found the tool yet, or feel it's not worth it to them. I agree with you. If folks don't know what LinkedIn is, I doubt their use of social media is professional at all. I don't want to go into it, but the girls facebook that I'm talking about is far from professional. Status' messages that make me shriek and a ton of pictures that maybe shouldn't be online at all. Do your friends without LinkedIn do the same? Oh and definitely. I think there has to be a version for job seekers as well!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Ed - thanks for adding in your two cents. Yeah, perplexed is the word. I think my bitterness comes from her laziness. And it's great to try to fix it. We all NEED to do that, but often people don't want to hear us talk about it. They care, but they really don't. I think that is what is bothering me, but it's not my problem.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Bridget - You said it, not me! ;) Well yes, I agree. Besides the big name job boards, LinkedIn is the most recognized tool out there. There is a greater issue if graduating seniors looking for jobs don't know about it. Thanks for the comment!

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Shane, thanks for commenting. As I stated, I did explain the site, and continued to explain why it's useful after she asked me the jaw dropping questions. To be honest, I don't think she ever checked it out. In this case, I think it's just laziness. Shane, in the time she sent me a private message, she could have easily gone to Google, Bing, or somewhere else and typed in "LinkedIn" to find the address. The problem here isn't that she didn't know the site. It's laziness. I'm not saying it's not rewarding. It's 100% rewarding to help someone, or else I wouldn't be successful in what I do. My anger is that I feel this website is big enough that it should be known. Somehow. Someway. Through someone. I've met a great deal of people who haven't tried LinkedIn and don't want to. That's great, that's fine. I'm more concerned with the folks who honestly probably don't think professional much anyway and choose to not actively listen when people (teachers, friends, anyone) is talking about anything that's not partying. And you're right, 80% of students don't go to career services. But you're wrong, Career Services do provide information on LinkedIn, and even enforce programs for seniors now. I agree, niche communities can be great, but LinkedIn has niche communities built in there as well. If anything, it's the best tool for managing your network. That's my opinion of course. As a recruiter, It's really the greatest way to find talent. I understand the spam can be annoying, but it's better to receive a message from a recruiter than to not receive one at all. I'll check in with her in a couple days to see if she ever checked it out. My guess is no, but maybe she'll have surprised me. When I asked her if her Facebook was private, she responded with, "Yeah, my FB is private as fukkkkk". The only place we are really disagreeing is that I do think it's a site that should be known. While other communities may be better, it's still the biggest, and as my opinion as a professional recruiter, the best way to find talent. It's the #1 hiring tool out there, hands down. Students need to know about it and make up their mind if they'll use it.