The Student Relationship with LinkedIn

By Ethan Magram

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Just about every college student has gotten the LinkedIn lecture. We’ve all been told to make ourselves a LinkedIn account, construct our profile a certain way, have a professional headshot, and use specific key words that will stand out to employers in searches. I’m sure many students have asked themselves if putting so much time into a LinkedIn profile is even worth it if it may not be as effective as they’ve been led to believe.

At first, I thought the answer to this question was ‘no.’ I thought the platform was so saturated with student profiles, just like mine, that it would be impossible to stand out to employers. After all, 25% of all American adults have a LinkedIn account, according to Pew Research, and there are over 46 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, according to Brandwatch. It appears as if there will always other students that have stronger profiles and stronger resumes.

I say all this, and remain this cynical, after having found success on the platform. I was offered an internship opportunity through LinkedIn over the summer. It was totally unprompted and would have been a truly legitimate and beneficial experience (had I accepted it). Yet, somehow, I remained skeptical about whether it could help other students like me find these kinds of opportunities.

I asked Kimberly Hirsch, a senior cognitive science and computer science major at SUNY Oswego, if she felt that LinkedIn is a beneficial tool for other students to use. She responded with an emphatic ‘yes.’

“I have never been offered any opportunities over LinkedIn,” Hirsch said, “but my sister has.”

Hirsch continued to explain that her sister had graduated college and was offered her full-time, salaried job over LinkedIn. She has remained at that company for over 6 years.

I was beginning to change my mind and realize that LinkedIn had the potential to be an incredibly useful tool for students to seek internship and job opportunities, given the right circumstances.

Brenna MacIsaac, the graduate assistant for the Navigator program in the Compass at SUNY Oswego, says that one of her own friends has found opportunities through LinkedIn.

“She is a human resource major and she has had a ton of [related] positions, so people have reached out to her for human resources,” she said.

So, students are indeed finding opportunities over LinkedIn. At this point, my frame of reference has changed entirely. But one thing did stick out to me when I had my conversation with Brenna MacIsaac.

“I think a lot of people on LinkedIn, on the employer side, look for people [whose] experiences match up…,” she said. “I think there is an equal relationship there.”

I found this point about the relationship between recruiters and job seekers fascinating. After doing some research, I found that recruiters have just as much of a methodology for finding people to hire as students do trying to get hired.

According to The Balanced Careers, over 100,000 recruiters are using LinkedIn as a recruitment tool, meaning over 100,000 companies are looking for good employees just as there are over 450 million LinkedIn users looking for jobs.

LinkedIn itself boasts that over 75% of people who have recently switched jobs have used LinkedIn to inform their decision, and that social professional networks like LinkedIn are the #1 source of quality hires. LinkedIn has a plethora of statistics and blog posts for recruiters to improve their recruitment processes just like students might receive tips about how to construct their profiles for a higher likelihood that theirs will be looked at by recruiters.

This relationship between recruiter and potential hire appears to be one that lacks any kind of understanding from one side to the other. The language in these blog posts for recruiters carry a tone that lacks regard for the people these recruiters would intend to hire, but instead, carries a somewhat corporate-insider tone. It’s almost as if finding good recruits isn’t the issue to recruiters, but comparing recruitment processes is.

For example, a post on the LinkedIn Talent Blog by Ed Nathanson: “No matter how good you are, how many great placements you have made or how great a sourcer you may be, most of our customers think that they can do our job (or at the very least, have opinions on how they would do it better).”

Ultimately, I found that, for students, LinkedIn has the potential to be a very valuable resource for finding jobs and internships. As long as you tailor your profile correctly, it may be clicked on by recruiters. But I believe that recruiters on LinkedIn have very little of a concern for the humans behind the profiles. It seems to me as if they utilize LinkedIn as a tool to sift through candidates to find the ones that are most qualified, but have little concern for anything other than the items on their hiring checklist that are checked off by certain LinkedIn profiles. In that sense, I think that colleges and their students should rethink the way they treat LinkedIn and try to use it with this relationship between potential hires and recruiters in mind and to their advantage.

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