LinkedIn Review

Want to give LinkedIn an interview before you put it to work?  Read on to see which of its features get passing grades and which ones get pink slips.

Pros

  • Build your links for free — Most of LinkedIn's services are free to use.

  • You're your own job application –You don't need to post a resume or cover letter on LinkedIn, because your profile basically IS these things.

  • Find the job that's right for you — You can search for jobs not only by salary, skills required, industry sector, etc., but also by how they're related to the people you're connected to on LinkedIn. It's easier to get your foot in the door somewhere if you have someone working in a certain field or at a specific job who can put in a good word for you.

  • Get on the inside track by talking with hiring staff — Many people who use LinkedIn are actual human resources professionals working for companies looking to hire, so it's a good way to directly connect with these people.

  • Put in a good word — You can connect with people you've worked with professionally before, and you can give each other recommendations and endorsements.  This helps potential recruiters see that your skill set is credible, and this increases your chances of them responding to an application.

Cons

  • Connections only get you so far — LinkedIn is, at heart, a social network.  This means that while it can help you find jobs to apply for or prospective employees to fill gaps in your organization, and offer advice on these fronts, it won't do all the work for you.  You'll usually have to get out in the real world and do interviews and fill out applications to get better at job hunting.

  • Be careful not to let your inbox get flooded — LinkedIn sends people a lot of email, and this sometimes makes it easy to accidentally connect with someone who you don't know very well through these emails and your other social network links.  As with any social networking website, be careful when dealing with giving out your personal information to anyone.

  • Business class comes with a business-level cost — LinkedIn's premium services are expensive, and some people complain that they don't work all that well.  Be sure that you're going to use this website a lot before you decide to get them.

The Bottom Line: 8/10

Almost like dating websites, whether LinkedIn is good or bad for you is really determined by how much work you put into it.  While it has employment-related advice and services, its main focus is on helping professionals connect with each other and put themselves out on the job market to strut their stuff.  In that sense, it can help you find jobs and contacts that you wouldn't have otherwise.  So, if you're a professional, the more complete your profile is, the greater the chance that you'll be getting some support in that regard.

With that said, when it comes to sharpening your employability skills, like how to write the perfect resume or nail your interview, you just have to go out and do it, and learn from your experiences.

In the meantime, if you're ready to give LinkedIn a shot, we'll start by teaching you how to create a LinkedIn account in our next tutorial!


Is LinkedIn Safe?

You may know what LinkedIn is and how it works, but you’re probably wondering if LinkedIn.com is a safe and secure website to use for business networking purposes. All social networking websites have some risks associated with them, but there are some measures you can take to ensure you never have a safety or privacy issue while using LinkedIn.

How safe is LinkedIn?

You shouldn’t have any safety issues with LinkedIn if you take reasonable precautions. One of the biggest safety concerns to be aware of on LinkedIn revolves around user profiles. Almost anyone can sign up, and identities and qualifications are not verified, so users can sometimes misrepresent themselves.

Luckily, LinkedIn is offered as a free service. This means that you are never obligated to pay anyone for any service they offer on the website, and you are never required to enter your financial information on the website. You also have a level of control over how much personal information you choose to share on the website, so determine beforehand the level of transparency you are comfortable with, and go from there.

How to maintain privacy on LinkedIn

When you sign up for LinkedIn, you may be tempted to overshare on the website. That is, you may add a lot of extra information about yourself to your profile, thinking it may increase your chances of getting a job. But remember, LinkedIn is a social network that almost anyone can sign up for, so think carefully about what you share on the website.

Once you create your account, access your privacy settings and set them to a level you are comfortable with. Simply click on your profile picture in the top-right corner of any page, and select Privacy & Settings from the drop-down menu.

LinkedIn privacy settings

From there, click Privacy at the top of the page, and scroll through each category. Click Change to the right of any setting to change it from the default. Some things you may want to consider changing include:

  • How your profile appears in search engines
  • Whether you view profiles in public or private mode
  • Who can see you as a suggested connection
  • If your information (profile, data, etc.) is shared with third parties by LinkedIn
  • How the website can advertise to you

Be sure to read our safety tips below to ensure that you are doing everything you can to protect yourself while using LinkedIn.

7 safety tips for using LinkedIn

1. Never give financial information or money to another LinkedIn user.

LinkedIn is a free service, and unless you want to sign up for LinkedIn Premium, there is no reason for you to input your financial information anywhere on the website. If you are offered a job, your employer will have their own method of collecting payroll information for you; they should not ask you to give this information out on the website. If they do, request that they collect your financial information in a more secure way.

In addition, you should never have to send money to another  user for any reason, including securing a potential job prospect. LinkedIn is merely intended to connect you to people in your business field, and help you find job opportunities you may not otherwise find. You should not be required to send money to any of its users, for any reason. 

2. Question and research all job offers received through LinkedIn.

Unfortunately, some users will sometimes run scams through LinkedIn, hoping to take advantage of people desperately looking for work. Question all job opportunities that are presented to you, especially those that seem “too good to be true” – they often are.

Beware messages sent to you that seem to be generic, or that offer you things that aren’t realistic (e.g. “Make $2000 a week working from home” or “We’ve reviewed your profile and you’re exactly what we’re looking for”). In addition, try not to click on any links in messages before researching the ‘alleged’ company or employer more; these links could be viruses.

3. Be careful about putting your phone number, street address, or other contact information in your LinkedIn profile.

Though only your connections can see any contact information that you put on the site (besides your email address, which everyone can see), this information should usually be kept private and only given out upon request. A potential employer does not need to know your phone number or Internet messaging criteria unless they want to contact you, and they don’t need to know your street address unless they want to hire you. A user who demands this information from you without giving you genuine reason to believe they are considering you for hire may have ulterior motives.

4. Don’t accept every invitation to connect with other LinkedIn users.

Though you may be tempted to expand your network on LinkedIn as much as possible (perhaps on the advice of a friend), you should be careful about doing this. Though it may be okay to accept connections to professionals in your (intended) business field, you should generally avoid accepting connection requests from users whom you don’t know at all, especially if they aren’t directly related to a potential job prospect.

If you accept every user as a connection without viewing their profile first, you’re much more likely to receive trivial messages on your account, or even become the victim of a scam. Always do some basic research before requesting or accepting a LinkedIn connection; a complete stranger in another country who doesn’t work in your field is not going to help you get a job.

5. Verify the identities of LinkedIn users whom you deal with.

Remember that almost anyone can sign up for LinkedIn, and that identities, personal information, or qualifications of the users cannot be identified. Whether you’re recruiting or looking for a job yourself, it is okay to ask another LinkedIn user for verification of their identity or qualifications.

If you’ve been corresponding with someone and you want to ensure they are who they say they are, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them for more information about themselves, and/or for proof of their identity. Any reasonable user who has genuine intentions will oblige you this request.

6. Report LinkedIn users who post scams or other inappropriate content.

If you come into contact with a user who is sending you unsolicited messages, running a scam, or otherwise using the website inappropriately, be sure to report them to LinkedIn. To do this, simply contact LinkedIn with information about what you have seen on the website, and they may remove the offending content or suspend/disable the account that posted it. LinkedIn also sometimes reports scams to the authorities, so be sure not to leave these issues unreported if you experience them. Remember that by reporting abuses of the website, you’re helping other LinkedIn users not fall victim to them, too!

7. Protect your LinkedIn account with a secure password… or two!

Always securely protect your account with a strong password, and don’t give your password to any other user. Even just a few minutes of control over your LinkedIn profile would give someone the opportunity to ruin your potential job prospects, and even your professional reputation (at least on LinkedIn). To learn more about creating secure passwords, check out our TechBoomers tutorial on how to make a strong password.

You can also turn on two-step verification for your account, which requires you to enter two forms of verification for your account when an unfamiliar device attempts to sign into your account. If this happens, LinkedIn will send a numeric code to your mobile device, which you will be required to enter to sign into your account. If it wasn’t you trying to sign in, you’ll know someone is trying to access your account; this may be a good time to change your LinkedIn password.

 

 

Well, that’s our rundown on LinkedIn safety! If you’re thinking of using LinkedIn, you should definitely check out our next article; we review LinkedIn to help you decide if it’s right for you. If you’re already sold, check out the next step-by-step tutorial on how to create a LinkedIn account.


What LinkedIn is and How To Get Started

The Internet is now the place where job searches are most frequently completed if you're looking to get into (or back into) the workforce – and there are now many great websites that help facilitate this. By the same token, it also helps companies put their job openings in front of people from far and wide who are looking to fill a position. But regular job search websites are rather impersonal: a job gets posted, a person applies, and a decision is made on whether to give the applicant further consideration. LinkedIn.com does things a bit differently.

So what exactly is LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a social network designed for businesses and work professionals. Individuals can create profiles that act as CVs, and connect with contacts who can endorse their skills. Companies can create their own pages to advertise to potential partners, and post job openings that users can apply for.

How does LinkedIn work?

When you sign up for LinkedIn, you create an online profile with relevant information about your professional life.  This can include your work, volunteer, or other worthwhile experiences; your skills, and your interests. Acting like a virtual resume, your profile helps you connect with colleagues and professionals in your field. The idea is that by presenting yourself on LinkedIn, you will have more opportunities to connect with people who can help you with advancing your career.

LinkedIn profile

You can also apply for jobs on LinkedIn, or post them if you want to use LinkedIn for recruiting for your own company. You can search for jobs within various business fields, and often apply for a job you want directly through LinkedIn. You can also contact professionals in your field directly, as long as they also have profiles. This gives you an edge over traditional job applications, as you don't have to play phone tag or set up a time and place to meet for an interview.

LinkedIn posted jobs

Why use LinkedIn? 7 ways LinkedIn will help you professionally

1. Put your work experience in front of people looking for it.

At its most basic, having a profile on LinkedIn is like having an online version of your resume. This gets you exposure to many more potential employers than distributing resumes by hand. Some of the most influential businesspeople in the world, such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, have profiles.

LinkedIn profile of Bill Gates

2. Advertise your company to potential partners.

By the same token, many famous companies around the world have company pages on LinkedIn. They are eager to show themselves off and maybe even hire some new employees. For example, here's the LinkedIn page for electronics giant Apple:

LinkedIn Company Page of Apple Consumer Electronics

3. Establish and expand your professional network.

Connect with people you know, either professionally or personally. They might point you towards a job you'd like, or ‘introduce’ you to professionals in your field of work.  You can do the same for them, too!

LinkedIn added connection

4. Show off your credentials.

You can be as detailed as you want about your qualifications and skills. Your connections can also endorse your listed skills, and you can do the same for them. Your abilities look a lot more impressive to potential employers if you have people to vouch for them!

LinkedIn Skills and Endorsements

5. Hiring happens here.

Companies both big and small post job listings on LinkedIn, so there are plenty to choose from if you're looking to get into the workforce. Or, if you're already running a business and are looking for fresh talent, you can post a job yourself!

Apply for jobs on LinkedIn

6. Get advice from industry veterans.

Join groups of people with similar jobs or skills, and have discussions with them about professional matters that you care about. You might get advice on how to take your career to the next level, or find a new job that's perfect for you!

Groups on LinkedIn

7. News from the working world, at your fingertips.

The website has a feature called “LinkedIn Pulse,” which has thousands of articles from industry professionals and successful figures such as Bill Gates, Barack Obama, and Dr. Deepak Chopra. Keep up to date with the latest business and workforce news, either from your contacts or from LinkedIn itself through LinkedIn Pulse.

LinkedIn Pulse article

The history of LinkedIn, and why it’s so popular

LinkedIn was founded in Mountain View, California at the end of 2002 in California by Reid Hoffman, along with professionals from technology companies such as PayPal. The website itself was launched in May of 2003, and reached one million users by mid-2004. They have also made many impressive acquisitions during its existence, including popular websites like Lynda.com. In a $26 billion dollar deal, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn at the end of 2016, a year in which LinkedIn made $960 million in revenue.

LinkedIn is currently the world’s largest network of professionals, with over 467 million members worldwide. It is so popular simply because it works. Millions of people use the site every day to search for work, and many of them do actually land jobs. By directly connecting you to professionals in your field, the platform gives you an edge over those still utilizing traditional job searching methods.

In 2008, LinkedIn launched a mobile app for their service.  This means that you can take it with you on the go, and always keep up to date on job opportunities and make connections!

Is LinkedIn safe to use for professional networking?

LinkedIn is a fairly safe social networking website, as long as you're careful about how much personal info you reveal while using it. It can't verify the identities and qualifications of its users, so always research new users you come into contact with, and never give out your financial information.

There are some safety concerns on that users should be aware of, including the potential for fraud and misrepresentation on profiles or company pages. There are also some users who attempt to run financial scams, preying on the desperation of those seeking immediate work.

To learn more about potential safety issues, and to read up on our tips for staying safe while using LinkedIn, check out our article on LinkedIn safety.

How much does LinkedIn cost?

LinkedIn is free to sign up for and use (and the app is free to download). You can use it to set up a professional profile, search for jobs, and make connections, all without spending any money. LinkedIn offers optional premium plans with additional features and tools that can enhance your experience.

If you want to learn more about premium plans, what they offer, and how much they will cost you, consider reading our LinkedIn Premium article in the rest of our course. We break down the plans and help you choose one based on your needs.

LinkedIn competitors

There are a few alternatives out there, each with its own unique spin on professional networking. Beyond.com has an expansive job listing portal, and allows you to join a “Community” with other professionals in your field. Opportunity (formerly Opprtunity) allows you to enter information about your qualifications, and then matches you with companies who are looking for those skills in potential new employees. Zerply, another alternative, focuses on giving professionals in the entertainment industry a place to display their work portfolios and look for job contracts.

 

That’s our introduction to LinkedIn! If you want to learn more, we’ve got an entire LinkedIn course on our website. We can help you with things like how to make connections, how to find a job, how to post a job if you want to use LinkedIn for recruiting, or how to contact LinkedIn customer service if you’re having issues.