Young people hate LinkedIn

Child in man's suitThere are just no young people on LinkedIn. Young people complain that there are no jobs when they get out of college, but the fact that they aren’t on LinkedIn makes me think they aren’t trying very hard to look. They certainly aren’t doing what they can. Who failed to give young people the memo on this one?

I was recently investigating my LinkedIn followers, as well as the “People You May Know” section and I learned two things, 1) LinkedIn has absolutely no idea who I know, and, 2) young people just aren’t on there. Other than the few of my generation who work at the same company as me, I simply cannot find them.

World’s Largest Professional Network of Older People

There’s a fundamental problem with LinkedIn being a place for professionals if it does not attract the youngest professionals like recent college grads. This isn’t a great mystery and I can see a few reasons for this.

Social networking – The first problem is that there are no young people on LinkedIn. This sounds circular to say that the reason why there are no young people on the site is because there are no young people on the site, but it is probably the biggest issue LinkedIn faces. If my Facebook friends of my age are not there, and these are some of the closest people I know, then there is really no reason for me to be there, either. I will just talk to them on Facebook.

If all I see are a bunch of grey hairs that I don’t know, despite LinkedIn thinking I do, then I lose interest fairly fast. LinkedIn’s version of social is not social to a digital native. Sorry, older folks.

Ruling the roost – The second problem the site faces is that it is a realm where young, social people cannot reign supreme. Forget that there are no videos of cats, or funny memes. Young people just don’t want to fill out the sections with that one internship they hated for three months and their high school GPA because it just looks embarrassing. On Facebook, we can share our best moments and look like superstars, but there really is no hiding the shame when all you have to brag about is you were once a pencil pusher over the summer. It is not a superiority issue we have here, it is that if our future employers are actually lurking these sites, it is almost damaging to our careers to put such a skimpy resume up there.

People make a big deal about LinkedIn users not being secure enough to use a picture of themselves, but imagine not having anything to fill out in the experience section.

The Weakest Linked-Ins

I hear the arguments now. “Young people should start networking early and people will understand that they are just beginning their futures.” I agree with that, but since it is such a public site, then employers are inevitably going to keep searching around until they find someone with more experience. The Internet really isn’t as forgiving as it should be and we youngsters know that.

So what’s it going to take to get young people on LinkedIn? Short of calling it Facebook, you are really going to have to wait until they get a job they are proud of and feel settled in. Until that point, they simply aren’t “professionals” in anything. LinkedIn totes that it is the largest network of professionals because of course they want to be the biggest and best in their market. However, if LinkedIn was a 20 year old college student who wasn’t the best in anything, it wouldn’t want to join itself either.


Categories: Featured, Future of work

Author:Kevin Jordan

Kevin graduated from Stanford in three years and is a contributing writer for The TIBCO Blog. Graduating from a engineering-focused university, Kevin quickly developed a passion for technology and its role in business. Still continuing some of his other creative ventures as well, he enjoys doing stand-up comedy and professional acting. Appearing on the Disney Channel and performing on stages from Las Vegas to the Bahamas inspires him to continue entertaining through written word, on comedy club stages, and on television screens. Bridging his creative ambitions and technical curiosity creates the balance he strives for.

Subscribe to the blog

Subscribe and receive an email when new articles are published

43 Comments on “Young people hate LinkedIn”

  1. March 31, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    OK, so here’s the challenge…what can LinkedIn do to better attract the younger crowd without alienating the people who spend the time and money on LinkedIn? Should they divide somehow and create a ‘younger’ space?

    Second question…what should young people do to make best use of LinkedIn so that they don’t lose in the equation?

    • March 31, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

      Great questions! And tough questions! I think you may have thought of the next social network site 🙂 With a site designed for the young professional, but integrated with LinkedIn it could give recruiters a bucket of talent that is easy to find and give young people just starting out a place to feel like they can grow a network with people they know. LinkedIn is a great equalizer, which is good and bad. Everyone is an equal when they first make a profile, until you have to fill it out. And that is where Facebook has an edge. There is no hierarchy.

      Young people really have an opportunity in front of them to use social networking to their advantage, and that just sounds odd to say. Talking with people, I often hear that “networking” officially makes them feel like the glory days are over and they have to start settling down. It is really up to them to decide when they want to start their career. I know really proactive young people who use LinkedIn, but this doesn’t seem to be the norm.

      I sympathize with the not wanting to join until you feel “worthy” of doing so, as I was victim of the same problem. Having joined it now and using it makes me realize that this insecurity just shouldn’t be a barrier. If LinkedIn is not going to integrate with Facebook, then young people should do it themselves – bring their friends over to LinkedIn with them. Have people who know you, can endorse you, and you trust help bolster you LinkedIn page – that goes for anyone of any age.

    • March 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

      What I also found troubling is that trying to link my profile to find fellow colleagues that went to my university with my .edu email address would not work. This could be another area of improvement so that young college professionals can stay connected outside of Facebook.

    • August 8, 2013 at 6:23 am #

      I left LinkedIn because of the sheer amount of spam they sent me. I’d signed up, they didn’t need to “sell” me anymore. I didn’t feel the need to bombard my friends with invitations to LinkedIn, and the constant reminders to do so were annoying.

      • August 8, 2013 at 10:12 am #

        Mael, do you feel at some point that your decision not to be on LinkedIn will hold you back from job opportunities? What field of work are you in?

  2. Max
    March 31, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    Follow what the legal profession has done for ages… create para professional groups.

    • March 31, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

      Thank you Max! That is definitely one approach to consider! 🙂

  3. Lidia U.
    March 31, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    I disagree that there aren’t any young people on Linkedin, majority of my connections are younger professionals such as myself. I went to school with some eager beavers.

    It’s actually harder for me to find mature professional connections that are on Linkedin and if they are members, they aren’t very active.

    I do agree that Linkedin is not forgiving. This issue goes so deep I wouldn’t even know where to start…

    • March 31, 2013 at 9:16 pm #

      Thank you for your comment! It has been my experience that the vast majority are older than me, or have “enough” experience that they feel comfortable creating a profile. I guess everyone’s “enough” is different. And I find it interesting that you have experienced the opposite. But when you match the “professional” with the “public,” and the fact that everyone has a different idea of professionalism, there is a lot of grey area for what is forgivable.

  4. March 31, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    This is a great article, and one which I as a relatively young (23 years old) person can strongly identify with.

    I joined LinkedIn to connect with some industry professionals in the US, who I knew I wouldn’t see very often, as I am UK based, and out of curiosity, and to expand my network, I started searching for some colleagues I had studied with, most of whom are the same age as me. I was amazed at how many were already on LinkedIn, and I started encouraging more of my friends to join.

    Starting out on LinkedIn with a blank slate can be quite daunting, but I maintain that it is possible to have a good looking profile, with minimal work experience. Filling in any relevant sections, even if it’s just education, as well as a strong personal statement, and the powerful customisability of a person’s profile means a profile can look good with minimal content. LinkedIn also encourages users to improve their profile by rating it, I personally loved developing my profile to an ‘all star’ rating, and LinkedIn makes it so easy to make these little changes.

    Your assessment of the problem is accurate, and I think a better way to communicate the importance of LinkedIn is that it’s a ‘social resumé,’ a place where graduates and young professionals can showcase their best work to potential contacts. I found that once I got a couple of friends on LinkedIn, and showed them around, they realised its value, and are promoting it to others in our peer group, all the time strengthening each others’ profiles through connections and groups. It’s a small start, but I think, on LinkedIn, that’s often all people need.

    • March 31, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

      Thank you very much David! You are absolutely right and small starts can lead to big improvements. I have found LinkedIn to be such a rewarding and valuable tool, but I cannot always convince others of that. I do understand the hesitation a bit as I did not take to LinkedIn early on, but I think once people realize that it gives you the chance to network with people with like-minded business/professional interests, it can really be beneficial.

      • April 1, 2013 at 10:14 am #

        One very important thing to note, is that the young crowd in the age group you mention is making a pretty significant shift into a new phase of life – that of a working professional. Moving into this totally new mindset – they are going to don a new hat that they’ve never worn before. It involves adjusting to many patterns of new behavior and interaction with peers. To some this comes naturally. Others take time to settle in – and all this also reflects in the way they deal with their online personas, which I guess might lag what happens in the real world, and begins to take shape once they have found a sort of a comfort in the new environment/way of life.

        This is a great discussion thread!

  5. April 1, 2013 at 9:48 am #

    Kevin, I’m a bit surprised by your premise as I know several young professionals on LinkedIn. It was also suggested by JV (@bouncingthots) that I share with you that both my sons, currently college sophomores, are already on LinkedIn.

    • April 1, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Thanks Faun. I was quite interested in hearing Kevin’s take on that.

      • April 1, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

        Hi Faun and Jaisundar! Thank you both for your comments. You have very ambitious sons!

        I was not as surprised when I looked at the demographics for who uses the site. 79% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older. Also in the report it says that LinkedIn is the oldest networking site with the average age being 44.2 (

        I think it’s great when young people are on LinkedIn, I just think it is a disproportionate amount. This could be a sign of a larger issue where it is actually true that young college students are finding it harder to get jobs, but this still doesn’t account for sons like yours Faun, who are very proactive and using the tool while still in college. Even at schools like Stanford where I went to school, this is not always the case. I love what Jaisundar said in a previous comment, and that professional networking is a very new skill for young people going into the workforce. It is not Facebook by any means. To some, like your sons, it will come naturally. For others, it will be something that they will have to learn to like. I just don’t think they are all doing it yet.

  6. Sandrageordie
    April 1, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

    Are young people still on Facebook? I thought they had moved on from that (roughly around the time they started getting friend requests from their grandparents?).

    • April 1, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      I think maybe only the ‘old school’ young people

  7. April 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm #

    Not sure if I’m still classed as a young user of LinkedIn at 33 but have been using it for quite a while now. Whereas I understand having a relatively blank profile may seem daunting isn’t the idea of LinkedIn to build up a network and get yourself recognised in your relevant professional groups? The article is good but gas totally overlooked the use of discussion groups which I find one of LinkedIns strongest points. Over the years of using the site yes my profile has built up as I have done different jobs and has become like a virtual cv but I feel my interaction in the many discussion groups has actually been most beneficial to me. Through the groups, where at first you listen, read and think, you become more confident, meet like minded people and eventually have the courage to take part. From this your network grows, your professional views grow and hopefully you start to get recognised for your professionalism in your chosen career area.
    For me this has been the most valuable and supported a move geographically from the UK to Australia as I had built up peer connections via LinkedIn and also managed to talk with potential colleagues before I moved. On arriving in Australia I had a virtual network of people who I am now starting to meet and work with.
    I can now attend conferences and through discussions I have commented on or started people I’m introduced to will often say that they have heard my name etc.
    so even though your profile may start blank there is so much more value in exploring LinkedIns options/opportunities not just a cv.

    The last thing id say is that for LinkedIn to work you do have to put in a little effort for for it to really work. It’s not Facebook where you can just hit Like.

    • May 2, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

      You’re only as old as you feel, but with the average user on LinkedIn (79%) being 35 or older, you have a few years before you are in the majority. I agree with you and have recently found the groups very productive for thought provoking conversations. Once someone takes initiative like you said and puts a little effort into their networking, I think they start to see the benefits.

  8. April 5, 2013 at 8:06 pm #

    Perhaps this is just my observation. Perhaps this is only the case in Australia. But it doesn’t appear that LinkedIn is doing much to encourage young people. My people-on-the-street surveys overwhelmingly point to young people not even knowing what LinkedIn is. If LinkedIn–and its users–want to see more young people using it, they need to attract them. Perhaps that can’t be done under the present format.

    • May 2, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      I definitely agree with you and I don’t know if it is something they are trying to fix. It just seems they are waiting the young people out until they are ready to join, instead of attracting them from the beginning.

  9. Fred
    April 21, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    LinkedIn is really all we have but it’s awful. The “recommendations” are largely a complete joke and the entire site is a giant boon to gasbags, self-promoters and mainly, the site itself. The spam is relentless and numerous people have made the mistake of opening up their address books to Linkedin only to find that EVERYONE has received a request to join, including a whole bunch of random people who happened to pop up in CCs and chain emails they long ago forgot about. They could be felons, weirdos, your boss’s personal friends…so embarrassing.

    Until something comes along, we’re stuck with it. But the fact that younger people are turned off by it isn’t surprising. I am 50 and find it drab, boring and hate the discussions, phony news and fake networks it promotes. Like I’m told every time I log in that I have something like 30,000 people in my network. What a joke.

    As for “grayhairs”, any younger person who views experienced workers like that isn’t worth networking with in the first place, whether it’s on Facebook or anywhere else. My friends in college never treated older people or experienced individuals that way, so if you know people with that attitude I would drop kick them immediately. I was always cordial and friendly with people of all ages if for no other reason then they were associates of my parents, my employer or my friend’s parents and co workers.

    LinkedIn still stinks but that’s because its emphasis is clearly not on helping people network in any genuine way but on marketing and selling ads to people who ALREADY have a huge network.

    • May 2, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

      Thank you Fred. I understand your grievances with the site and can sympathize with many of them. I think, like everything else though, it has its ups and downs. Does LinkedIn cater to all people? No, and they seem okay with that. Using the mantra “World’s Largest Professional Network” means they are perfectly fine not including “non-professionals.” The elitist tone is in effort to tout being the “World’s Largest” in my opinion, but that definitely comes with sacrifice in terms of isolating many people.

  10. May 1, 2013 at 8:02 am #

    I think it is a misnomer to call Linkedin a “social network”, all I see is great deal of promotional posts and spam. I do use the platform and have something like 700 connections (very few of them are under the age of 25); for me it is a useful way to keep track of ex-colleagues and old contacts – something which is perhaps not terribly useful to younger users?

    • May 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm #

      I think it is useful to younger users, but not really until they graduate from college or become settled in a job. Otherwise young people really just use Facebook. The only real “social” part about LinkedIn are just the groups. So I think you are right. It seems Twitter and Facebook really have the market on “social” networking, whereas LinkedIn just seems to be about the latter half.

  11. Holly
    May 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    “Young people” aren’t on LinkedIn because it is a complete waste of time.

    • May 21, 2013 at 10:29 pm #

      Interesting response. What part do you think is a waste of time…using LinkedIn to post your skills and experience, using LinkedIn to share and learn interesting things, or both?

    • May 22, 2013 at 12:27 am #

      I would also be interested to know what you think. I think LinkedIn demands a little more from its users than Facebook as it does not benefit you as much to passively partake in conversations happening there. I find the value you get out of it has a lot to do with what you put into it. I would love to hear your thoughts!

  12. May 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    I love this article particularly because of my young age. I am 15 and have been contacted by technology recruiters for my skills. I have been featured in a magazine article, but I feel that employers aren’t looking for part-time talent that will be available for a while. By the same token, I feel that the modern school system is not preparing young people to be appealing to employers.

    • May 24, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

      Hi Keith! Thank you for the comment! I am sure some company will acknowledge your ambition very soon. You sound like a smart and driven person, which a lot of people twice your age are not. This market is even tough for college grads to get internships, but I have a feeling with recruiters already contacting you, you will be just fine! The education system is a whole other beast 🙂

  13. Chris
    May 31, 2013 at 8:38 am #

    Just start small. Think of LinkedIn as your personal CRM and just add people as you meet them. It will and it should take a few years to build up your network to be of any use, but then that is normal for anything. LinkedIn is just a reflection of the career path you chose and you should maximise it in a professional way. If LinkedIn could perform miracles from day one then you are probably lying about your work life and it will not take long for people to notice something wrong. Used properly over the next decade (assuming they are still in business) it will give you an advantage over others (not using it). Think of it as a long term investment strategy based on experience, networking and reputation.

  14. John
    June 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    Hate is a strong, attention grabbing word and in this case probably a bit of an overstatement. I don’t think that young people hate LinkedIn as much as they just don’t find it interesting. You listed 3 good reasons why they would not want to join and they seem reasonable to me.
    I am 47 and just recently began to find interest in it. I love the articles and topics I find in my relevant groups. I like being able to speak with others in my industry to see what problems and solutions they are experiencing. I like being able to contribute feedback and or opinions and I have no prejudice against people of any age who offer their experience or insights to the group. I don’t know how anyone from any age use LinkedIn to earn income.

  15. July 11, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    I have a lot of young people in my LinkedIn network actually. Many of the people I went to college with have a profile. Through them, I’ve connected with hundreds of young professionals.

    I’m not one to always think “what can ____ do for me?,” so when I signed on to LinkedIn, I wasn’t thinking that there wouldn’t be other young people for me to talk to. There’s enough of that on the other social websites.

    If a young adult isn’t willing to reach out of the comfort zone to network with older professionals, is (s)he really ready to be at that level in the workforce? I don’t think so. But that’s just my opinion.

    You don’t need a fancy profile- just a complete one. And you don’t have to be the best at anything. Networking doesn’t mean you’ll come away with a job. It just means getting your name and face out there in the professional community of your choice.

    LinkedIn is an excellent venue for that.

    I’m 23 by the way.

  16. BillCastellano
    August 30, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    I think they are listening to you, Kevin. Now LinkedIn has lowered their youngest age requirement and they are targeting students to “build your resume” throughout your student career so that you can have better visibility to college recruiters.

    • September 4, 2013 at 1:02 am #

      Hi Bill! I saw that recently and think LinkedIn is a great place for anyone (of any age) to engage in conversations that are not being had elsewhere. Everyone stands to benefit from their recent updates.

  17. YoungPerson
    September 3, 2013 at 6:42 am #

    You wrote: “The first problem is that there are no young people on LinkedIn.”

    Either you are clueless or you are lying; either way, you shouldn’t be writing an article like this (clearly you’re not OLD enough). You demonstrate an excellent example of terrible writing, and even better example of poor thinking. LinkedIn may have fewer young people than older people (true), but it does not have “NO young people”, as only one person like me (18) (or my sister – 16) refutes your entire argument.

    When writing, I’d suggest you avoid using the words “no”, “never”, “all”, as you can’t possibly assert that because it only takes ONE person for you to be wrong.

    • September 4, 2013 at 1:00 am #

      Hi “YoungPerson.” I am sorry you take issue with my choice of words and your passion/ambition should be shared by many more young people like you and your sister. However, as a fellow young person (being 22 myself and having graduated from Stanford) I would like to impart a bit of wisdom I have learned (if young people are allowed to do that) and suggest that young people should err on the side of caution and avoid criticisms that are framed as attacks more than they are critiques. Arguments can often become devalued or clouded by personal judgments in otherwise healthy debates.

      79% of LinkedIn users are 35 or older, so you are correct. There clearly is a 21% minority of young people on LinkedIn thereby suggesting that there are in fact young people using it. Just remember that rhetorical devices as hyperbole are common practice when trying to make a point and are not always meant literally.


  1. Knode attempts to compete with LinkedIn in biotech networking | Tim - March 31, 2013

    […] Young people hate LinkedIn ( […]

  2. Work Really REALLY Sucks - April 15, 2013

    […] This blog originally appeared on Successful Workplace. […]

  3. LinkedIn Doesn’t Matter To The People Who Need It Most | DaLuxLife - April 23, 2013

    […] like recent Stanford graduate Kevin Jordan, have been vocal about the issue. In a recent post titled “Young People Hate LinkedIn,” Jordan writes that, for the non-professional […]

  4. LinkedIn Doesn’t Matter To The People Who Need It Most | シ最愛遲到.! - April 23, 2013

    […] like recent Stanford graduate Kevin Jordan, have been vocal about the issue. In a recent post titled “Young People Hate LinkedIn," Jordan writes that, for the non-professional crowd, […]

  5. 7 Tips To Help Job Recruiters Find You Wherever You Are [Infographic] - June 21, 2013

    […] analyzed the reasons why young professionals don’t like LinkedIn. In a recent article called Young People Hate LinkedIn, the author even goes so far as to call LinkedIn the “world’s largest professional […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: