"LinkedIn is for old people."

March 18th, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

jesse_stayI was reading the blog of my Facebook coauthor recently.  I was surprised to see that he wrote about the Brazen Careerist network because he tends to write about a lot of technology stuff, not career or job search stuff.

He starts out his 5th paragraph talking about LinkedIn… I’ll quote him and add my own comments:

>> Let’s face it. LinkedIn is for old people.

I totally disagree.  LinkedIn is for “professionals,” regardless of your age (or any other discriminatory thing: race, religion, etc.).  If you are just finishing school and want to network with professionals in your industry, I think you are hard-pressed to find another network where you can find those people.  If you are GenY and think you are too fresh and cool to be there, well, good luck in your career.  There is a reason college career centers are making a major push to get their students on LinkedIn.

>> It has hardly innovated over the years.

I regularly say that LinkedIn is old, boring and stale, compared to all of the sexy social networks likes Facebook and Twitter.  It *is* slow to add new stuff at the crazy rate those other sites do… but who says which way is better?

Facebook adds to the point where you can’t keep up with it, and they regularly get themselves in trouble because they violate user privacy, or they have major controversy in what Groups they have on their, and we routinely read about users who do something career-ending.

LinkedIn has taken a cautious, slow approach to many things (it took forever before they let you put your profile picture up), but realize that people are there to get a job done, not play and share videos with their BFFs.

So if this statement is true (“it has hardly innovated over the years”), I’m not sure if that is a a good thing or a bad thing… what do you think?

There is a difference between “we really need to make some changes to the product because it will make it better for our users” and “we need to make changes because everyone else is doing it and we better keep up with the joneses.”

>> it is just too hard for a new employee entering into the workforce to get the most out of such a site

Sorry GenY, you are going to have to figure this one out.  At least for now, LinkedIn is the 800lb guerrilla and ya gotta be in it to win it.  I always heard that GenY was good at technology – can you not at least figure out how to participate a little in this “find and be found” environment?  It’s not that hard, and I think this statement discredits your ability to get with it.

>> In a much more open workforce it seems suitable a new entrant into the networking marketplace came forward

Perhaps. “Inevitable” is probably a better word than “suitable.”   There are hundreds of thousands of social environments.  Some have better features than others, some have more utility, value or traffic than others.  We’ll see who is around in a few years, and who continues to add value.  I know some of the people at Brazen and hope they do well.  Innovation and competition is a good thing for everyone, right?

Here’s a traffic chart from compete.com.  LinkedIn is the green line with around 15 million visitors a month.  Brazen Careerist is the blue line on the bottom.  If you were looking for talent (hiring), partners, funding sources, customers, prospects, etc., where would you spend your time?

linkedin_traffic_brazen__careerist

  1. 10 Responses to “"LinkedIn is for old people."”

  2. By Janet Thaeler on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    Jesse, I’m with you – I like that LinkedIn doesn’t change everything around every day like Facebook.

    I’d say LinkedIn is for leads. I’ve recently sent 2 clients to a LinkedIn coach and both are really happy with the results. So I signed up.

    I found a new partnership, a book review opp, and have learned a lot from LinkedIn in the past few weeks. People tend to be transparent and engaged unlike a lot of social sites where the attention span is about 2 seconds.

    - Janet

  3. By Anthony Russo on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t care if every big shot on the Internet claims that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google or whatever social entity is dead, dying or irrelevant. If you are in business, you should have a presences on these sites.

    Brazen Careerist looks like a fine site and I’ll make a profile there as well, but to think that anyone would make that their only profile and not utilize a site such as LinkedIn is very short sighted.

    You get on as much as you can. you put effort into the important ones. LinkedIn is definitely one of the important ones and no matter what age, you network with ‘older people’ so you want to be there.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Anthony Russo
    Conferencing Specialist
    Infinity Conference Call
    arusso@infinityconferencecall.com
    Skype: anth.russo
    Twitter: @AnthonyRusso

  4. By Penelope Trunk on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    You could say that it’s just factual — the LInkedIn for old people thing. The average age on LinkedIn is 44 and the average salary is over $100,000. TechCrunch writes about these demographics all the time.

    Also, I challenge you to think of a generation that uses the same job hunt tools as the generation before them. Baby boomers used newspapers. Generation Jones used Monster. Gen X uses LinkedIn. Gen Y is not going to use what the generation before them used. And, all research i have ever read shows that Gen Z will do their job hunt almost completely via their phones.

    Penelope

  5. By Jason Alba on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    @Janet – I’m assuming you mean you agree with me (Jason)?

    Anyway, what I really like about what you say is that for you LinkedIn is not about job search… that’s one of the amazingly powerful things about LinkedIn – it’s not just a job board. If it were the population there would be quite transient… instead there is value if you are a professional – whether you are in transition or not, big company, small company or self-employed.

    This brings significant value to the job seeker, as well as others who are not interested in a job search.

    @Anthony – good points. The only part I don’t entirely agree with is “getting on as many [social networks] as you can.”

    I say this because there are hundreds of thousands of social networks – some might be for you, some might not. You have to have some kind of criteria to determine whether you will get on and participate…

    @Penelope – nice to see a comment from you on the blog :)

    Factual statistics put out by LinkedIn’s marketing team? I don’t buy it one bit. Check out my post titled Fake Metrics.

    The average salary is over 100k for their 60M users? No way, especially not with all the international users. Actually, if I remember correctly that is not a personal salary, it’s a household salary, which skews it quite a bit.

    Let’s say, though, that the avg age on LI really is 44. Does that mean it’s a bad place for GenY? Are they wasting their time there? Or would networking with people older than them, who are likely business owners, managers, decision-makers, funders, etc. be a good career move? Perhaps it’s better for GenY to network with this audience than it is to network with one another?

    Regarding job hunting tools, I am not looking at LinkedIn as only a job hunting tool. I consider it a career management tool – a place to find new relationships, nurture relationships, share brand, etc. Comparing LI to newspapers or Monster is crazy… if you (I say that generically, not YOU/Penelope) only think of LI as a job hunting tool then you don’t get the value of LinkedIn.

  6. By Ed Callahan on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    LinkedIn is the most powerful business development tool right now – bar none. I base this on personal experience and the on the fact that no other data base of “leads” is self maintained by the very people you are trying to sell to or consult for. I use Twitter as well and I have a social presence on Facebook, but LinkedIn is for business. In the spirit of helping first I offer “LinkedIn for Selling & Consulting”, which is available for download as an encrypted PDF from my blog site in exchange for a donation to the Southeastern Pennsylvania Autism Resource Center (SPARC), a 501(C)3 non-profit organization I support. Go to http://www.edcallahan.info and click on the “LinkedIn Resources” tab to find it.

  7. By Jesse Stay on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    Let’s just get things straight first – I never said LinkedIn was “dead”, nor did I say it couldn’t benefit the younger generation. I just think BrazenCareerist is a better site for the less-experienced and more open Gen-Y generation. Let’s face it – if you don’t have any experience, your best way of sharing with an employer is through your ideas, your thoughts, and your knowledge. Sure, you can do this on LinkedIn, but I think BrazenCareerist is better set up for this type of relationship. BrazenCareerist is a place for old people to meet the young. LinkedIn is for the already experienced to meet the more experienced, which is usually an older crowd. It is far from Gen-Y friendly. Telling them to “figure it out” is far from a solution, and a student just out of college or in college is not a “professional”.

    Saying what is factual does not mean I’m declaring anything dead. I’m just recognizing an opportunity that has quite simply not been met yet. If you can find factual data contrary to my point, I will stand corrected.

    As for why I covered it, I write about technology startups and emerging technology that I believe in, especially social technologies. BrazenCareerist fit that mark. (is it not a technology?) I think this one has potential. I’m curious why you’re so upset about this.

  8. By Jason Alba on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    @Jesse – where do you get “dead” from? I just reread my post and didn’t find the word “dead” anywhere.

    I’m not upset with you, I’m simply challenging your argument. I think it’s flawed.

    I’m also not necessarily knocking BrazenCareerist. It’s a good idea and hopefully they succeed/last.

    My argument is about some stuff in your post about LinkedIn – specifically my four points in bold in my post.

    As to your comment:

    >> I think BrazenCareerist is better set up for this type of relationship

    Perhaps, and so is VisualCV (which is for all ages :p). But the issue I have is… are the employers and decision-makers going to those sites? If they aren’t then who are you sharing all this stuff with? (I know, BC has the job of getting the employers to those sites… )

    >> LinkedIn is for the already experienced to meet the more experienced

    I don’t agree with that,

    >> Saying what is factual does not mean I’m declaring anything dead

    what exactly is this factual stuff you are talking about? Is it a fact that LI is for old people, and not for GenY? I only brought in the 4 statements above, and offer a different perspective… not sure what the factual stuff is that you are talking about.

    >> Telling them to “figure it out” is far from a solution (and) If you can find factual data contrary to my point

    What are you saying that is factual?

    I didn’t offer it as a solution… there are “solutions” to help them figure it out, but just because they don’t get it doesn’t mean they should ignore it. If that is where the fish are, doesn’t it make sense for them to be there?

    >> a student just out of college or in college is not a “professional”

    I hope Penelope would disagree with you on this one – from what I’ve seen on the BrazenCareerist website I think many of those freshly minted graduates are professionals. If they aren’t professionals what are they? Moving back in with their parents, working at Taco Bell and playing video games in their spare time? I guess the question is “what is a professional,” I argue that it’s time to own it… and that can even happen before they graduate.

    >> I’m curious why you’re so upset about this.

    I’m not upset Jesse, I’m just offering a different perspective on your perspective of LinkedIn being for old people.

  9. By Jason Alba on Mar 18, 2010 | Reply

    Ah, I just read through the comments again, looks like Jesse’s comment about “dead” was in response to Ed’s comment:

    >> I don’t care if every big shot on the Internet claims that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google or whatever social entity is dead, dying or irrelevant.

    I’m guessing that Ed meant “every big shot” in general, not necessarily pointed at Jesse…

  10. By Marlene Oliveira on Mar 23, 2010 | Reply

    Love it or hate it, I’m simply finding that as time goes by, everyone is on LinkedIn. Perhaps it’s reflective of my network, but lately I can assume that if I want to look up *any* work-related contact, I’ll find them on LinkedIn. Of course, the sophistication of their profiles and level of activity may vary, but they’re there (recent grads, executives, mid-level managers, fellow freelancers). Which tells me that I should be too.

    Plus, despite its shortcomings, I’ve really benefited greatly from LinkedIn: getting great information from Answers and Groups, promoting events, staying in touch/nurturing relationships, researching prospects. I’m not a raving fan, but I can’t deny the value of this site.

  11. By Scott Allen on Mar 26, 2010 | Reply

    a) Since when is 44 “old”? Shit.

    b) It is an average. That means that for every 64-year-old on there, there’s a 24-year-old (or two 34-year-olds).

    I think it would be fair to say that LinkedIn is more representative of the age-diverse workforce than Brazen Careerist, which is clearly targeted more at Gen-Y. As a result, I think it’s a fair speculation that there are more hiring managers on LinkedIn than just about anywhere else.

    That said, whether you’re a job-seeker or a hiring manager, why would you choose only one? Use any tool/site that’s achieved “critical mass”.

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