Frankly, I don't quite grok what LinkedIn is for, especially given I'm already in Facebook, SO Careers, and Google+. I'm told it's much more about the job market than the other social media websites.

  • How do I use it to maximize my hireability? Is it just another place to copy all the information out of my resume and let it sit there?
  • Should I be joining groups -- does that actually help or just spam my email? And if so, which groups should I be joining?
  • Should I friend only people I know or try to friend complete strangers?
  • LinkedIn is a social networking experiment like Facebook and Tweeter. It distinguished itself as a network for professionals. Your third point is kind of funny. Map it onto real life and it does not make much sense. Humans form and are conformable in social circles of about 150 (see Dunbar's number). Increasing the number and calling unknown strangers friends or followers is perfectly acceptable in the experiments.
    – user25792
    Commented Oct 13, 2018 at 10:12

4 Answers 4


I use - Facebook, Tribe, LiveJournal, LinkedIn all for different purposes. I notice that with LinkedIn the userinterface design focuses the communication on resume items, shared connections, recommendations and very very lightweight updates. When looking at the real estate used in Facebook, by comparison, the focus seemes to be on current activities, coordination of individuals or groups, shared or interesting experiences, and sharing of media - all stuff that focuses my use of it on a more social, sharing agenda.

My primary focus on LinkedIn is the network. I use it primarily for:

  • Answering "who is this guy?" - when making a professional connection. For example - interview candidates or interviewers I'll be meeting, vendor representatives, or other potential collaborators. My goal is mostly finding a shared point of experience or understanding that I can use to speed up the in person conversation. Also - if the person fits into my web of connections, I may be able to dredge up a personal reference from a trusted source - the best of all worlds.

  • Finding people who suit my agenda - I'm not an HR recruiter, but I do a lot of work in hiring people. I may want to find names who can help me (I'm looking for a trust worthy consultant for X, is there anyone in my network that I know...?) Often even my friends and close collegues have so much going on, that I'll find more on a search with Linked In than in personal connections.

  • Finding and tracking people I might otherwise have "lost" - every positive connection in my professional career is a potential opportunity for more good stuff to come my way. It can be as simple as a friend thinking of me and sending me a cool journal article that turns my next project into something outstanding, or a big thing like getting a great job from an old boss. LinkedIn helped me find old college and first job friends I lost touch with, particularly in cases where the contact should stay professional and fairly abstract and be guaranteed to be free of the "dude, anyone want a beer?" daily flak that I have on Facebook.

  • "What's everyone else doing?" - I just got a new qualification, how do other people describe it on their bios? Also - what's the typical skill set at a given level of expertise in a given domain? If I'm hiring a self-described "Principal Engineer" - is he as experienced as other Principal Engineers?

The downside, for me, is that it's used by a lot of recruiters. I find my contact with recruiters is about as deep and satifying as being sneezed on in a subway car. Sorry recruiters, but the last job hunt proved that recruiters were 100% useless for me, but with an expensive "cost" in terms of the time an energy they consumed.

To answer specific questions:

How do I use it to maximize my hireability? Is it just another place to copy all the information out of my resume and let it sit there?

First - nothing short of doing great work will REALLY improve hireability. When it comes down the hard choice between two candidates, it will always be experience and demonstration of skills/qualities based on the interview.

LinkedIn can improve your exposure - so if you are an awesome candidate who isn't getting seen by many people LinkedIn may help. It may also help in verifying your identity - giving you common ground with hiring people who are trying to see if you are who you say you are and if you and they have any common points of connection that can give a sense of certainty.

I disrecommend just sticking your data out there and ignoring it... that almost never helps, and from a networking perspective you might as well skip it. I recommend:

  • post your data
  • keep it up date (quarterly is fine)
  • keep building your contacts (I usually do this monthly and/or after a big networking thing as a way of making closure on the event).

Should I be joining groups -- does that actually help or just spam my email? And if so, which groups should I be joining?

My personal experience is that groups are useless. I'd love to see one take off, but they are either no volume/no value or high volume/no value as far as I can tell. Too many people who are mostly out to push an agenda and not really much about collaboration...

Should I friend only people I know or try to friend complete strangers?

People you know. Given how I use it, I would be unimpressed to ask a candidate "so, I see we both know John Smith" and hear "nope, I just made a connection to him".

I've done this to my detriment a few times - recruiters seem to always want to connect to me, and I used to let them. Given my sneeze on the subway experience with most of them, I've found that I now have a network with a number of little "recruiter viral connections" as they have connected to so many disparate people that now any connection through a recruiter is unlikely to be of any value to me... so as I perambulate through the LinkedIn pages, I have to mentally weed out these recruiters... fortunately, that's not impossible - they are the people in my connection list that I don't know...

I've also had to wrestle with whether to connect to purely personal friends. I generally will connect with them but I do set the bar a bit higher. While I may connect with a coworker I've only met a handful of times, I WON'T connect with a social-only contact until I know what they do for a living, what their job goals might be, and maybe a bit more about them... However, I may very well friend that person on Facebook, as they fit well into the "dude you want a beer?" conversation I want to have there.


Facebook, IMHO, is strictly for social, non-work related activities. I rarely accept coworkers into my Facebook network, although sometimes if we have a lot of out-of-work interactions or were friends long before we were coworkers I'll make exceptions. I imagine it's pretty rare for job offers to be made and accepted, and job positions to be found, on Facebook. It might happen, but I've never seen it or heard of it.

SO Careers, from what I can tell, seems to be invitation-only. I don't know anyone who's on it, or anyone who has had positive experiences from it. From what I can see, it looks like a pretty minimalistic job-board that lets employers post their Joel Test score. Also, it's pretty limited to IT-related careers. If you were looking for a job in nursing, law, construction, ...ANYthing outside IT, I don't think SO Careers would be a good place to start.

Google+: I know a whole bunch of people who got very excited about it at first, but I don't know anyone who's continued using it. I created a profile there too, but nothing ever seemed to happen. No one talks about it anymore. Do people still use it?

In my experiences, I get more emails for job offers (mostly from recruiters) from LinkedIn than any other type of networking website or job board site. I've noticed HR people scanning my profile before I go in for interviews (and from what I hear this is pretty common), I guess they're just checking me out, and I check them out too. I do know people who have gotten and accepted offers via LinkedIn. It also allows you to apply directly to jobs that are set up for it, using the resume on the profile you've already created. If anything, it's like a hybrid of Workopolis or Monster (or whatever job-board site you like) with Facebook.

It might be best to create a minimal profile and see what the site offers, and if you like it, fill in more details and happy networking!

  • That's just it though -- I'm not seeing much that jumps out at me. Am I missing something I should have done or is it just overhyped? Commented May 2, 2012 at 18:40
  • 1
    @Yamikuronue: At the very least, it's one more place to learn about new job opportunities that doesn't cost you anything (ok, there are super-duper paid-account features that I don't bother with), and that could lead to new jobs. You don't have to be particularly active if you don't want to be. It's all up to you. Commented May 2, 2012 at 19:02
  • 3
    Data point: I have a Careers 2.0 account, and a G+ account, and I use both heavily as appropriate to my work or personal life. So, there's one! And yes, the scanning of the LinkedIn profile is quite common, and it does say something to that scanner if there isn't a LinkedIn profile to go with a resume (in certain industries).
    – jcmeloni
    Commented May 2, 2012 at 19:44
  • 2
    Additional data point - I not only have an SO Career account, but I got a job offer from it and another good contact. On useful contacts, the hit rate is small but the quality rate is high. Commented May 2, 2012 at 20:36
  • I know a few folks with SO careers who also see interesting jobs. I went for the sign-up "request", then noticed that if you have some things like a github account with activity, you can instantly qualify! I do so I did and now I have it. y'know. Commented May 2, 2012 at 20:37

I think @FrustratedWithForms answered the question well.

I'll just add that LinkedIn is only as good as the number and quality of connections you make on it. If nobody that you know professionally is on it, it won't help you that much. It is a good tool for navigating possible career moves and getting introductions to 2nd order contacts via your own contacts. Potential employers and recruiters can also get a subjective gauge of your professional acumen based on who you are connected to and how you come up in searches.

One other nice thing about LinkedIn that people don't always mention is that it is the best way to keep up on news about your past colleagues without having to put them in your personal email addressbook. When somebody updates their status (changes jobs, gets promotion, etc), the connections see it and that's a nice easy opportunity to say "Hi" and stay in touch. For professionals who tend to be introverts (most of them), a tool that performs such passive notification is really valuable.

As for linkedIn "groups" they are useless for actual discussions. These groups simply don't have authentic communication (like on stackexchange) because everybody has their "resume-face" on. The groups function more as badges, basically just an opportunity for someone to display affiliations.

  • +1 for mentioning LinkedIn as "best way to keep up on news about your past colleagues without having to put them in your personal email addressbook." Commented Apr 21, 2014 at 23:46

How do I use it to maximize my hireability? Is it just another place to copy all the information out of my resumé and let it sit there ?

I'd stay off it, if I was you. The beneficiaries of LinkedIn and other work-related networks (I don't entirely exclude Facebook from this set) are seldom the people listed on it : they are the owners of the company running the network. I found myself informed by LinkedIn that a translator I'd been dealing with in Iceland had put me on it by her allowing all her email contacts to be forwarded to LinkedIn. It took a lawyer's letter to sort it out.

Should I be joining groups -- does that actually help or just spam my email? And if so, which groups should I be joining ?

Dunno about groups at all.

  • 3
    -1 Although it is sad that you had negative experiences with LinkedIn, you're not actually answering the big picture question on how it can maximize employment prospects.
    – Spoike
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 10:58
  • @Deek: Although I think it can be valid to answer "How do I ..." questions with "Don't do it - it's a bad idea", I think you need to give more detail as to why it's a bad idea.
    – user145
    Commented Jul 18, 2012 at 11:50

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