LinkedIn: From Social Media to Work Marketplace

May 22, 2024

In 2003, Reid Hoffman launched something that would change the lives of millions of people and companies. LinkedIn was created in his living room,[1] but would go on to reach offices, boardrooms, and workplaces in over 200 countries.[2]

Today, the networking platform LinkedIn has over a billion users and 67 million businesses listed.2  The purpose of LinkedIn is to create and maintain professional connections for recruiting, networking, career development, and B2B sales, among other uses.[3]

LinkedIn has the technical features of a social media site, for instance, user generated content, profiles, and connections.[4] It differs from the traditional concept of social media in two ways. The first is the strong emphasis on professionalism and career development. The second is that site members typically connect with people they already know or have been introduced to by someone in their network.3 Connections are grouped into first, second and third level connections, offering a level of gatekeeping and professionalism not found on other sites.


Gatekeeping, trust, and interaction

Because of this gatekeeping, users generally have a higher level of trust on the platform, as well as a higher level of interaction with posts and pages (40% of visitors engage on a regular basis.[5]) 59% of brands that advertise on LinkedIn are seen as higher quality, and 70% of brands say they trust LinkedIn.[6]

Some changes in the site have made it more appealing to those in the market for jobs. In 2016, LinkedIn was purchased by Microsoft.3 In 2017, it stopped encouraging mainly real life connections, improving professional networking opportunities.[7] And recently, it’s been seen as a good place to grow a personal brand.[8]


Professional networking opportunities on LinkedIn

  • Users are able to upload CVs (resumes,) build a profile, and add skills in order to better connect with the right employer. LinkedIn has a whopping 41K skills listed that users can add to their profile,2 and since 50% of hiring managers use this information when considering candidates, it would behoove the jobseeker to use this feature.[9]


  • LinkedIn is a resource for jobseekers researching companies and organizations, via company pages and profiles of current employees. Jobseekers can follow companies to get company news and notifications when companies they want to work for are hiring.3


  • LinkedIn allows users to find available jobs or opportunities via search or recommendation. They can save jobs that they would like to apply for later.[10]


Personal branding on LinkedIn

Personal branding is more and more important in an Internet age where communication has become less and less personal.


  • Personal branding is how one presents themselves professionally, especially online. It’s about giving people the right impression in an interaction. It means considering how one’s words and actions will reflect one’s character, especially when it comes to recruiters and companies on LinkedIn.


  • It all starts with the profile. It’s vital to have a high quality profile picture that’s formal, yet approachable.[11] Other areas of a LinkedIn profile should be filled out with care and class; personable, yet also professional.


  • A good profile on LinkedIn is beneficial for personal branding, even if the jobseeker is on other sites as well, because it’s easy for people interested in hiring or doing business to find you on LinkedIn.


Freelancing opportunities

Personal branding is even more important for freelancers, who often depend on connections and images when looking for gigs. LinkedIn Profinder is a service for freelancers that caters to this growing sector of the workforce, with programs like Open For Business, started in 2019.[12]


In conclusion, don’t be fooled by LinkedIn fitting the technical definition of social media. LinkedIn’s many features, most importantly networking and profile features, have created an enormous, effective social media site for professionals looking to hire or be hired alike. In the end, it’s a marketplace for jobs, where connections are currency and a well crafted profile is the user’s biggest asset.














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