There are just no young people on LinkedIn. Young people complain that there are no jobs when they get out of college, but the fact that they aren’t on LinkedIn makes me think they aren’t trying very hard to look. They certainly aren’t doing what they can. Who failed to give young people the memo on this one?
I was recently investigating my LinkedIn followers, as well as the “People You May Know” section and I learned two things, 1) LinkedIn has absolutely no idea who I know, and, 2) young people just aren’t on there. Other than the few of my generation who work at the same company as me, I simply cannot find them.
World’s Largest Professional Network of Older People
There’s a fundamental problem with LinkedIn being a place for professionals if it does not attract the youngest professionals like recent college grads. This isn’t a great mystery and I can see a few reasons for this.
Social networking - The first problem is that there are no young people on LinkedIn. This sounds circular to say that the reason why there are no young people on the site is because there are no young people on the site, but it is probably the biggest issue LinkedIn faces. If my Facebook friends of my age are not there, and these are some of the closest people I know, then there is really no reason for me to be there, either. I will just talk to them on Facebook.
If all I see are a bunch of grey hairs that I don’t know, despite LinkedIn thinking I do, then I lose interest fairly fast. LinkedIn’s version of social is not social to a digital native. Sorry, older folks.
Ruling the roost - The second problem the site faces is that it is a realm where young, social people cannot reign supreme. Forget that there are no videos of cats, or funny memes. Young people just don’t want to fill out the sections with that one internship they hated for three months and their high school GPA because it just looks embarrassing. On Facebook, we can share our best moments and look like superstars, but there really is no hiding the shame when all you have to brag about is you were once a pencil pusher over the summer. It is not a superiority issue we have here, it is that if our future employers are actually lurking these sites, it is almost damaging to our careers to put such a skimpy resume up there.
People make a big deal about LinkedIn users not being secure enough to use a picture of themselves, but imagine not having anything to fill out in the experience section.
The Weakest Linked-Ins
I hear the arguments now. “Young people should start networking early and people will understand that they are just beginning their futures.” I agree with that, but since it is such a public site, then employers are inevitably going to keep searching around until they find someone with more experience. The Internet really isn’t as forgiving as it should be and we youngsters know that.
So what’s it going to take to get young people on LinkedIn? Short of calling it Facebook, you are really going to have to wait until they get a job they are proud of and feel settled in. Until that point, they simply aren’t “professionals” in anything. LinkedIn totes that it is the largest network of professionals because of course they want to be the biggest and best in their market. However, if LinkedIn was a 20 year old college student who wasn’t the best in anything, it wouldn’t want to join itself either.