By Charles Javelona
Shift happens. A few years ago, LinkedIn launched an app meant for students and recent grads. It didn’t stay around for long, much in correlation to the fact that students and recent grads don’t find LinkedIn useful. LinkedIn then decided to shut down the app last year.
It’s interesting that LinkedIn shut down their app for students because in an analysis done by AdWeek, LinkedIn has 87 million millennial users, accounting for 38% of their user base. Contrary to these numbers, very few students leverage its purpose.
This is alarming for employers who need to hire young talent to help grow their company.
Based on our own research at UnivJobs where we are a few users away from hitting 2000 student and employer signups, I'd like to share with you a list of the main reasons why students don't use LinkedIn.
Students and recent grads are accruing student debt and paying bills. The job seeker premium features may have a 1-month trial, but after that expires, a $34.99/month subscription fee sets in.
Students aren’t even willing to pay for their own Netflix account, let alone pay $34.99 for a subscription fee on a professional network.
A feature like this might be of great use to someone who already has a decent portfolio of professional experience, funds, and time to shop around for new career opportunities.
I'm sure you'd agree that looking for a job is pretty much a full-time job. For students who are already balancing school and part-time jobs, LinkedIn can't expect students to make that investment. They need help, not more bills.
For students, social media usage generally began in high school or college. If you look at the "cool" social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, you'll notice that their early adopters were predominantly high school and college students.
Facebook, despite being viewed as "uncool" by young people, does have some of the highest engagement rates among other popular social media platforms in thanks to the instant gratification that it awards its users.
Likes, shares, follows, reactions, etc. All of these features delight users. They're these little dopamine hits that students expect among any social networking platform.
But that's the problem.
Student's see LinkedIn as a social networking platform- not a professional platform. A professional platform has a completely different purpose.
Creating a LinkedIn profile as a college student does not yield the same instant gratification as creating an Instagram account, seeing your friends' content and getting followers.
College students who start using the platform early on only start to see the benefits of the platform a couple of years after they graduate. For a large number of students we've spoken to, their early use of the platform had them discouraged and they'd never returned. This is likely in part due to their expectation of the dopamine hits they've been trained to expect that never came.
LinkedIn has a feature to showcase yourself professionally through your work history and professional experience. Unfortunately, early career talent generally has little, if any, professional experience to showcase.
It's often hard for students to find experience right away or during school. Most often, the most they can do is show off their class projects or personal projects.
Let's not forget that we live in a very competitive society today. With the next best candidate available immediately through digital channels, feelings of inadequacy are common among recent-grads.
Just one look at a modern job posting asking for a myriad of required skills with "minimum x number of years experience with x skill / technology", it's not hard to realize students are tasked with the chicken and the egg problem.
"How do I get experience, in order to demonstrate my experience, without experience?"
Combined with the increased commonality of anxiety in young adults, you can't blame students for getting discouraged in competing on LinkedIn.
Based on our own research at Univjobs, we've come to realize that students and recent grads do not know the right and wrong ways to communicate with other members on professional platforms.
Social media and business had always been separated. Work and play. Many students and early career professionals find it difficult to reach out and maintain relations on a professional platform.
Early career talent, in particular, were unsure of whom to reach out to, what types of relationships they should try to start, and how to maintain those professional relationships. There is a huge learning curve for most students when it comes to the language of LinkedIn. This shows that LinkedIn wasn't designed with students in mind.
Last, but certainly not least: most of the content shown on LinkedIn's newsfeed is of great use to LinkedIn's primary demographic, but not so much to someone who is just starting out professionally.
It's expected that LinkedIn should be at the point now where they are able to show relevant content to their users based on their career experience and interests, but it doesn't seem to be the case.
We can see that LinkedIn doesn't pay too much attention to students, and as a result- students don't pay too much attention to LinkedIn either; even despite many schools' career centers advocating for the use of the platform.
While the numbers confirm that there is quite a sizable amount of early career talent on LinkedIn, it's evident that because of these obstacles, there's a low retention rate.
LinkedIn may be at risk of being outpaced or becoming obsolete for the younger generation.
If you'd like me to write more stuff about Gen-Z and millennials please let me know. I’d be happy to share with you all the things we’ve learned so far. We’ve managed to organically gather a sizable amount of students on our platform at UnivJobs where we help employers connect students from any post-secondary school in Canada through part-time work, internships, and entry-level jobs (co-ops as well)!