Why Isn’t LinkedIn Helping My Job Search?

WorkCoachCafeIn the LinkedIn Group I run, I asked members to share any LinkedIn success stories they had, and many job seekers made comments that were fairly negative.  I was surprised and not surprised at the same time, particularly when I looked at the Profiles of the members who were very negative.  

If you look at LinkedIn’s annual report, it shows that the greatest source of revenue for LinkedIn (54% in Q 1 of 2012) is from “LinkedIn Hiring Solutions.”   When you talk with employers and recruiters, they usually tell you that they love LinkedIn.  Using LinkedIn, they can find good candidates, get to know them a bit, and approach them with job opportunities when the right opportunity develops rather than posting a job and being inundated with applications from unqualified applicants.

So, why aren’t job seekers happier with LinkedIn?  I see 2 basic misunderstandings.

1.  A LinkedIn Profile is not a resume.

We have many decades of experience using resumes for job search, and, in the past, a resume has been largely a sales brochure summarizing the “features and benefits” of the job seeker, a list of the job seekers skills, experience, and education.  That vision of a resume is out-of-date, and unfortunately, that experience and that mindset doesn’t work effectively for LinkedIn, the main “talent market” in use today.

What is good marketing on LinkedIn?  

  • A nice photo, preferably a headshot with a plain background – no other things or people visible in the photo.  A LinkedIn Profile without a photo looks somewhat suspect (people wonder – what is this person hiding? Is this profile real?).
  • A keyword-rich Professional Headline that describes the job seeker as “Senior Administrative Assistant experienced in running multiple-location real estate offices in greater Los Angeles” rather than ”Unemployed” or “Administrative Assistant.”
  • A Summary which describes the person and what they do in keyword-rich conversational paragraphs rather than a bulleted list of responsible-for items regurgitated from the resume.
  • A list of your Skills – great sources of keywords!
  • Applications – pull in your blog RSS feed, add your portfolio via Box.net, and link to your public presentations via SlideShare.  Plus more…
See Job-Hunt.org’s section on LinkedIn for Job Search for more information.

2.  LinkedIn requires active participation to be most effective.

It is definitely NOT a set-it-and-forget-it venue.  It is a “social network” which requires daily attention and participation to be most effective.  Posting a minimal Profile and walking away waiting for the offers to roll in doesn’t work with LinkedIn (does it work anywhere these days?).  LinkedIn offers many opportunities for job seekers to demonstrate their skills and knowledge:

  • Connections – the more connections a member has, the greater their visibility into the whole LinkedIn community.  And vice versa.  Try to add two or more new connections every week. 
  • Groups – Groups are developed for locations, professions, industries, hobbies, employers, and countless other ideas and things that people share.  These Groups are excellent places to “meet” – and communicate privately – with other members, to demonstrate knowledge, and to interact with other members.  LinkedIn members may join up to 50 Groups, and it’s easy for most people to find at least 20 which are interesting.  Try to participate in a Group at least once a week, and, in an active job search, spend more time in more Groups, particularly Groups associated with your job search goals (location, industry, profession).
  • Status Updates – post something intelligent and relevant at least once a week.  It will be seen by all of your connections.

Don’t underestimate LinkedIn, and don’t blow it off.  If your profession or industry doesn’t seem to be using it now, participate anyway to lay the groundwork for your future career, where ever and whatever it may be.

For more information, check out these sources provided by LinkedIn:

© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.


About the author…

Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .



  1. Wonderful post, Susan. It may sound like a lot of work to be active on LinkedIn, but once you find the groups and activities you enjoy, it’s not that hard. And the benefit accumulates quite nicely.

    Thanks for this resource!

  2. You are correct on all counts Susan. You have to be active on your profile in order to be noticed. You cannot be a wall flower and expect everyone to come to you. Groups are an excellent way to to expand your presence.

    Thank You!

  3. Michael says:

    I am experiencing some trouble with my profile because I am not positive about what job I want. I have some experience working in archives, editing, and teaching and I am not sure which field to stay in. Is there a way to market myself to all three groups or would that be counterproductive?

    • chandlee says:

      Yes, create a LinkedIn profile summary which includes a summary of all of your areas of interest and how they relate to one another — example: being able to work in archives helps inform your teaching.

      One of the best ways to get potential ideas for writing your LinkedIn profile is to watch how others are marketing themselves. Study up on other people’s profiles — and then take some leads from theirs on how to write your own.

      Good luck,

  4. While you want to promote your LinkedIn profile, you may want to isolate online identities that you don’t wan’t potential employers to see. On my blog, for example, I don’t give my name, my primary e-mail address, and links to my LinkedIn and Flickr sites. On these sites, conversely, I don’t link to my blog. When I leave comments on other blogs, I usually don’t give my real name, my primary e-mail address, and links to my websites. Finally, if I had a Facebook site, which I would have strictly for personal use, I would not use my real name and primary e-mail address.

    Last week I heard one of the best talks about the use of social media for career advancement, presented by Laura Labovich.

  5. Cafe Patron says:

    I did something to my LinkedIn profile that may be considered radical: I listed my work-related values in my profile summary. I did so because I want to work with like-minded people.

    As Michael has, I have had difficulty composing a sharply focused profile because I have worked a variety of jobs in the past and have pursued diverse interests. I won’t enter my work history because it is erratic. As Howard Figler says in his book, The Complete Job-Search Handbook, “hide your résumé”.

  6. Excellent advice. I am planning to launch a LinkedIn development product in 2013 and this information will definitely help me to document my process and differentiate my resume writing from that of the LinkedIn profile so that they work together. Thank you.

  7. vivienne dawkins says:

    Hi Susan,

    On the subject of LinkedIn I connected with an ex-colleague. I recently saw that she had changed jobs and global head of a department in large Investment Bank. I emailed her and congratulated her on her new post, etc. She replied back to my email the next day and asked if I were looking for a new opportunity as she had a global mandate that she’s working on and looking for good people. I went back immediately, expressed my interest and thanked her for considering me and looking forward to hearing more details. I also advised her that I had recently completed a contract role and would be available mid September. The exchange of emails happened on 5th August. I didn’t receive a response from her, so I followed up on 10th September and still no response?

    I’m not sure what to make of it and whether I should follow up again, directly to her personal email rather than LinkedIn.

    Any suggestions on what to do in this situation?

    Please advise

    • Susan P. Joyce says:

      Hi Vivienne,

      If you have a phone number, you might giver her a call. It is possible that your email is not making it through corporate spam filters. If she doesn’t reply to your phone call, I would give up for now.

      I hope that’s what’s happening!

      Good luck with your job search!

      • vivienne d says:

        Hi Susan,

        Many thanks for your response and advice.

        I did have her mobile number and followed up with a phone call, it went very well and her offer of an opportunity still stands. She has been travelling and not had chance to respond to her personal emails. I’m meeting up with them this week.

        This is an awesome, site one of the best :) Thank you.

        Kind regards

        • Susan P. Joyce says:

          Excellent, Vivienne! Good to know what you did and what happened.

          Hope that everything turns out very well for you! This is one of the reasons it is such a good idea to stay in touch with former colleagues. She may well be rewarded by the employer for referring you, if you are hired.

          Good luck with your job search!

  8. Venita Crasta says:

    Hi Susan,

    That was an awesome post. Actually, until a few months I was doing exactly the very things that you mentioned in your posts though unknowingly. Unfortunately, for me, nothing came up for me. On the contrary I had Linkedin issues crop up like connection visibility problems, unwanted pests who would try to comment on posts et al. I had a tough time whereupon I decided to limit my visibility on LinkedIn. I would really like to increase it if there is really a chance of jobs, which I don’t seem to get much. I tried connecting with much of my connection but nothing seem to happen. Wish something could really open up for me.



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