When I was in college I received a lot of emails saying a friend (or not at all a friend) wants to connect with you on LinkedIn. Those were the most bothersome emails for me as I knew nothing about LinkedIn, and neither did I want to. All I did was to mark those (unread) emails and press “Delete All”. Unlike my other college fellows, I was totally uninterested in making an online professional profile, and never even felt the need to do so.

After graduation, I saw that all the people who used to send me those “annoying” emails are now successfully employed. And here I am, clueless about where to go for the right job? This, ladies and gentlemen, was the moment of realization for me. I felt like a person who forgets his house keys at a friend’s place only to realize that he has forgotten them when he is standing at his doorstep, locked outside.

My next goal was to make an account on LinkedIn and connect with as many people as possible. I started out with a basic profile and decorated it with all my achievements and the little work experience I gained during my brief part-time job in college. There is no denying the fact that I did develop a fairly strong connection with my friends on LinkedIn, which helped me in landing my first job. Though, I’ll not call it to be the job of my dreams but still it was better than nothing.

Sri Lanka has its own sets of problems when it comes to providing job opportunities to its youth. There is not enough awareness, with certain job types being undesirable or stigmatized. Living in such a country requires you to be very vigilant and determined while looking for a job. LinkedIn has never been very popular in Sri Lanka but gradually the trend of online job hunting is growing. Keeping my own experience in mind I highlight a few points on why LinkedIn is totally worth it:

Rich in Content:
You need to provide your detailed professional information on the website. From your past experience to interests, it requires you to mention everything. Even if you worked as a door to door salesperson for just about 2 weeks, mention it. Who knows if a marketing executive might end up hiring you as his next manager?

Economical:
Pay for your internet connection only, and you are good to go. Obviously, this is only applicable if you use the basic profile. The other premium profile will actually be quite heavy on your pocket.

Interactivity:
LinkedIn provides an opportunity to its users to communicate with each other. They can exchange information or viewpoints in groups, forums, question and answer sections. This communication is essential in keeping up with all the most up-to-date information.

Market Situation:
The increased interaction among users gives a better know how of the market situation. Be familiar with the latest market trends and demands, and keep yourself and your profile updated accordingly. If you can’t keep up with the latest market requirements then the only career option left for you will be watering the plants at grandma’s place (which you already have to do every Saturday).

Network Building
Know people from your field. Build a network. Make strong connections that may help you in future. Look for all the best employers and keep a track on their activities. Just staring at your computer screen will not get you a job. Stay connected, even with those annoying college fellows, like I did.

Although I found LinkedIn to be very useful but that doesn’t mean that it has no drawbacks to offer. Basically, it offers two different types of profiles; premium and non-premium. Non-premium is the basic profile that everybody makes when they sign up on LinkedIn. It’s the premium profile that has actual benefits to offer. Unfortunately, like all the other goods things in life, this is also not for free. Having a premium profile means you will not find LinkedIn economical anymore.

You need to invest a lot of time on LinkedIn to keep your profile updated. There are a lot of people on LinkedIn who are ready to hold on to any job opportunity that comes across their way. No employer will hire you for having a stagnant profile. Along with this unnecessary time consumption, LinkedIn comes with some other faults which are as follows:

Advertising is not Highly-Targeted:
LinkedIn provides the opportunity to advertise at a very convenient cost but this is not utilized to the best possible extent. All it does is to encourage you to make more connections, and get a paid account. Instead, they can make money through advertisements and make the premium account free of cost. If you think this is too much to ask for then at least they should make it cheaper.

Integrated for Business-to-Business Use:
It only makes an effort to connect employers and employees with each other. If you are a retailer or run a customer oriented business then LinkedIn is just not for you. Unfortunately, you would need to find other online sources for your business like Facebook or Instagram.

The newsfeed is similar to that of Facebook:
There is simply no need to try to make LinkedIn Facebook part II. What’s the point of sharing random photos and inspirational quotes (that you don’t even believe in) on your profile? The news feed should be more about trending job opportunities instead of pictures saying “Let’s see how many likes for this baby’s cute smile.”

LinkedIn is not Facebook. People should not be in a race to make more connections. The website is in a strong need of some serious staff that will ensure that it stays true to its goals and purposes. It will be unfortunate if such a great idea is lost in the race of being the most popular social networking website.