LinkedIn: Totally Awesome or Totally Absent for College Students?

Peter Weddle

By Steven Rothberg on the College Recruiter blog

LinkedIn recently published a summary of the demographics of its users. The results were quite interesting.

I think that we can all agree that thousands of college career service offices and leaders have invested massively over the past decade in advocating and, in some cases, requiring their students to become members of LinkedIn. Quite frankly, I’m a fan and very active user of LinkedIn, as is the job search site company that I founded some 28 years ago. So I’m not writing this to denigrate LinkedIn nor the career service offices and leaders who have invested so much of their time, energy, and resources in promoting it to their students. What I’m wondering is whether all of that advocacy has been worthwhile and if, in hindsight, different decisions should have been made.

A few numbers that jumped out at me and which surely will provoke some thought and, hopefully, discussion amongst readers of this blog article:
• 13 percent of young adults are members.
• 44 percent of LinkedIn users are active on a monthly basis, from which I infer that about 5.7 percent of young adults use LinkedIn on a monthly basis.
• 26.1 percent of LinkedIn users are in the U.S., from which I infer that about 1.5 percent of U.S., young adults use LinkedIn on a monthly basis.

There are approximately 20-million students who are currently enrolled in U.S. one-, two-, and four-year colleges and universities plus another 20-million recent graduates for a total of 40-million students and recent graduates. If 1.5 percent of them are active LinkedIn users, that’s about 600,000 users.

Now, I understand that some of my inferences may be off and I would be happy to be corrected as to the actual number of active users who are U.S. students and recent graduates, but if my numbers are correct, then they indicate to me that the tactics and strategies employed by thousands of colleges for years have not born the fruit they should have. So, I ask, should colleges continue to promote LinkedIn to their students — sometimes even to the point of requiring the students to register in order to graduate — and, if so, how should that promotion be different tomorrow than it was yesterday?

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