How I Feel about LinkedIn

I finally have time for a new blog post. So classes finished up this Monday and it’s time to procrastinate on studying for finals (just kidding, I spent the whole day studying since it was a rainy day). Many many things have happened in the past 4 months and I guess I finally had time to sit around and reminisce. I met a ton of amazing people this term outside of my program. I went out a lot, building on the work-hard play-hard philosophy. No regrets for sure.

Despite the rumours that 3A is the toughest term for Software Engineers at Waterloo, I found it quite manageable. I guess this was affected by our exceptional round of professors this term (with the exception of one..) It was tough in the sense that we never got a break; it was 1 assignment after another. But this term was a lot of fun in terms of the stuff I got to learn and do. User Interfaces (CS 349) being a favourite. Fun assignments (although tedious) with a fun prof. Take a look over at my Github if you’re interested (I just pushed the repos today).

So I actually have a topic to talk about today: LinkedIn.

The whole concept of LinkedIn is kind of iffy to me. I was recently surprised to learn that not a lot of university students know of it (since their peers don’t use it, or they have never had a professional job before). It’s quite interesting from a UW student perspective because once you are immersed into the co-op program, you are obliged to have a LinkedIn profile and connect with all your friends and coworkers … and people you might not even know who happen to go to your school.

So what exactly is it in comparison to Facebook? It’s like social networking, except you get notified when someone stalks you. Oh, and there’s a newsfeed for updates on your Connections and the Companies and Groups you’re following. Does it really matter if you never update your LinkedIn though? For full-time people, you probably update once a year or whenever you switch jobs. You connect with people so you can have access to their network, to expand the possibility of recruiters coming to your profile. For students, it’s a nice replacement for a “website” or “portfolio” (but you should probably move away from that once you get your own blog or website).

So is LinkedIn just a recruiting tool then? Yes. In many senses it is, because recruiters/HR people need to find talented people suited for the job. LinkedIn is a nice way to do it without having to flip through resumes. Usually you have a 1-liner under each job instead of the long detailed descriptions you see in resumes (..at least based on the Canadian resumes I’ve seen).

What does this imply?  That you should have a beautified profile, with maxed out endorsements on your Skills (more on this later). No matter, HR will still want to do a phone screen of some sort before transferring you to the manager or engineer or whoever you’d be working under. So it’s not like the hiring happens through LinkedIn messaging.

So back to maxing out your skillz.. The act of endorsing. I find this very silly. I discovered it one day when I received an email notification saying my friend has “endorsed” me for Git and Java and perhaps some other skills I had on my profile. This person is a classmate of mine so we take similar courses and everything.. but how could he know if I was proficient in Java or Git? We never worked together.

Fast forward a couple of months, and I’m starting to get Endorsement requests from my friends. It’s amusing, it really is, this strange feature.

Other strange features: Introductions. Quoted from the Help Center page: “An introduction lets you contact members who are in your 2nd degree network or 3rd degree network. If a member is within your extended network, you can contact them through connections you have in common.” So basically you message your connection in common to request to be connected to their connection. It’s very silly and kind of a foreign concept to those who have used group messaging on any IM client or simply, Facebook. What if your common connection never checks LinkedIn? Then you just wasted an Invitation, because you only get 5. After that, you need to pay.

I guess I just don’t see LinkedIn as a company that will grow properly. They have a very strong foundation, but there are many unnecessary and complex features that normal users won’t bother figuring out.

There are other cool recruiting tools out there that are more engineering focused. For example, StackOverflow Careers, which is of course directly connected to all of StackExchange. They have a really cool resume builder, and you can append your top answers to StackOverflow questions. Yes, I think this is cool. Although, I don’t know many people who use it, and I’ve never been contacted through it. The concept of having your profile and being contacted by technical people because they actually look at your contributions is cool – but who really has time to read through your contributions?

That’s the issue with writing paragraphs on your LinkedIn or resume. It can all be a load of crap on paper, and you can even bullshit through your interview. In the end, it’s all about how you work with others and handle conflicts and stress at work. I guess that’s what LinkedIn recommendations are for. Now THOSE are pretty legit. Having the references there are prepared, rather than the generic “References upon request” (which, btw, you really shouldn’t put on your resume… seems like such a 90s thing to do thinking about it now).

I just wanted to get that off my chest, the topic is probably really irrelevant to most of the people reading my blog.

So anyways, good luck to those with final exams, and good luck to prospective students that are still in high school. Feel free to email me or comment below at any time… I am pretty quick at responding.

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5 thoughts on “How I Feel about LinkedIn

  1. I understand where you’re coming from by saying who has time to read through one’s StackOverflow contributions but I’ve actually heard people being contacted (once being offered a job) based on their SO answers.

    • I was referring to contributions in general – i.e. your personal projects. SO answers are a lot easier to read through since they are just short bits of code, so I am not surprised people have been contacted from their well-written SO answers (great to hear, actually). It’s just not a common thing to see happen.

      This leads back to the purpose of LinkedIn – and something I forgot to mention in my blog post – does it seem like only those in the tech industry use LinkedIn? I have a couple classmates throughout various faculties that use it, but I barely see them update their profile or add new friends (meaning they stop using LinkedIn after the first time they set it up). Maybe it’s just my network, I really don’t know.

      This then leads to whether or not you “need” a LinkedIn in the first place. Everyone has one now but it’s not an “essential” to your professional life.

      Sorry for the rambling, just some lingering thoughts I had :P

  2. Yea it’s definitely not common to get outstanding recognition based on those types of contributions. And as for LinkedIn accounts, it seems as though they could be helpful depending on how they’re used so it’s more of a what-you-make-of-it kinda thing and how active you are in networking.

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