Is LinkedIn Worth It or a Waste of Time?

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How important is LinkedIn? Is the professional networking site worth using, or is it a waste of time? If you don't use LinkedIn effectively, your searches, messages, and other activity on the site can easily be wasted time.  

Both recruiters and employers use LinkedIn to source candidates for employment. And for job searchers, it can be a helpful tool for job hunting, career networking, and professional development. But that's only true if you properly make use of LinkedIn's tools to reap the benefits. 

Read on to find out how you might be wasting your time — and money — on LinkedIn, along with the most effective ways to use the site for your job search. 

Do You Need a LinkedIn Profile? 

Yes. Even if you choose not to spend a lot of time on LinkedIn — or any time at all — it does make sense to take about 30 minutes and set up your complete LinkedIn profile. Then, make an appointment on your calendar to check in on it every six months or so, and update with any big new accomplishments. (As well as those scheduled check-ins with your profile, update it any time you switch jobs.) 

Why should you have a LinkedIn account? 

Aside from your time, it's free (although there is a paid option). And, for many recruiters or hiring managers, their first step after receiving a resume or job application is to look up the candidate on LinkedIn. 

Recruiters and hiring managers also use LinkedIn to search for candidates — so if you do not have a presence on the site, you won't come up during searches. 

Finally, LinkedIn is an easy, modern way to maintain a rolodex of connections who may be helpful in your career. That person you met at a conference five years ago may wind up working at your dream company. Or, that colleague from your very first job may know a hiring manager you're eager to connect with. 

Having a LinkedIn account also means that you can use the site to research companies, interviewers, recruiters, and hiring managers — this is helpful before submitting applications and showing up to interviewers. 

In short, having a profile is a good idea for any job searcher. Use LinkedIn to connect with current and former colleagues, and add people you meet at networking events, conferences, etc. To engage even more with the site, join LinkedIn Groups. 

Why LinkedIn Could Waste Your Time

While creating a profile on LinkedIn is highly recommended, there are definitely ways the site can waste your time. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for: 

It could be pricey — and doesn't necessarily deliver: One of the features LinkedIn offers is "Job Seeker Premium." You can get a month free, and then there is a monthly fee. (That can add up!) With Job Seeker Premium, you can see who's viewed your profile, how you compare to other applicants, get access to video courses and salary insights, and direct message recruiters. 

Some of these features are very cool — but will they actually help you land a job? The ability to direct message recruiters is practical and could really have an impact. Seeing how you compare to other applicants and who has viewed your profile may take up time, but not necessarily get you closer to a new job. 

Premium also allows you to move your application to the top of the list as a "featured applicant." However, the recruiter sees a badge next to your name indicating you paid to be in that position. What does he think of you now? 

Keep in mind that LinkedIn charges recruiters a fee to post listings. That means they derive revenue from both employers and applicants. For LinkedIn, it may be a higher priority to keep people searching (so they can continue to collect fees) than to match your talents and qualifications to job opportunities. 

Could you be using your time more effectively?: Like any social media platform — Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, etc. — LinkedIn wants engaged users who interact with the site frequently. But, using LinkedIn isn't necessarily the most effective use of your time, if your goal is to get a job. Just as putting in hundreds of applications to jobs that are not a good fit for your experience isn't productive, so too is spending hours scrolling deep down into a hiring manager's profile. 

At a certain point, you have to ask yourself: What have I accomplished as a result of my LinkedIn browsing? Does it matter that someone in a state halfway across the country viewed my profile? Will this time spent tweaking my profile endlessly and looking up recruiters result in an interview or job offer?

How to Make LinkedIn Work for You

Start with the basics. LinkedIn is not going to work for you if you don’t identify yourself. Setting up a LinkedIn profile with “Private Profile” or “Human Resources Manager” (if you're seeking applicants) instead of your name and asking someone to connect isn't going to be effective.

People won't have any clue who you are and they won't try to figure it out. LinkedIn is for “real” people to connect which each other – that’s what makes it so successful and such a terrific networking tool.

If confidentiality is a concern, simply be careful. Connect only with people you know well. Be strategic if you’re job searching while employed and don’t announce it to your connections. There are ways you can job search confidentially without jeopardizing your current position.

How to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn

Start by creating or updating your profile. That's what you use to connect with people in your network. Your profile is also how you get found on LinkedIn, because it contains information about your skills and experience. Include a photo on your page — here's more information on how to take and choose a professional photo for LinkedIn

Once you have your profile in place, you'll want to invite people to join your network. Here's how to get started growing your network and writing messages — you can send LinkedIn messages to request recommendations and job search and career assistance and advice.