The Value of LinkedIn for Design Jobs
August 28, 2014
•Graphic & Comm. Design, General
• 0 Comments
Having a thoroughly filled-out LinkedIn profile is now practically mandatory for anyone seeking work in a professional field. Using LinkedIn for design jobs is extremely common, but does it actually help?
How LinkedIn Works
In theory, the site allows you to "Connect" with acquaintances far and wide who may then help you find work. However, the site discourages you from reaching out to people you don't already know. LinkedIn is supposedly a networking site, but in that capacity, it mostly just helps show your networks. That alone can be important; perhaps a potential employer scanning your profile will see that you are connected to a trusted mutual acquaintance. Any link, no matter how slim, is better than nothing if the connection will recommend you.
The main problem with starting your job search on LinkedIn is that nearly everyone who spends a significant amount of time on the site is in the exact same position as you. Those who are trying to hire employees are probably not seeking applicants through LinkedIn. The first time you interact with a potential employer on LinkedIn, you have likely already found an opening since many employers will check out an applicant's profile before an interview. You should do the same; knowing more about your interviewer shows serious interest and initiative and allows you to ask better questions and generally be more prepared.
Designers on LinkedIn
The design industry and related fields have one significant advantage in this regard. Designers often work as freelancers or independent contractors rather than full-time employees. Someone seeking freelance work in an area they are unfamiliar with is more likely to turn to LinkedIn than standard employers. LinkedIn can also be a great tool to generate freelance customers or clients for your business. As a freelancer, LinkedIn can be a significant source of projects, though it is unlikely to generate all the work you would like. Either way, it is a great way to showcase your work to potential freelance clients.
The Rise of Influencers
In recent years, LinkedIn has also started to provide career advice and other content from so-called "influencers," accomplished individuals who are supposed to be leaders in their fields. In a scathing criticism of LinkedIn in The Baffler, Ann Friedman compares the writers to the keynote speakers at old-fashioned networking conferences.
"Those who are at the top of the field are at this event only to entice paying attendees, soak up the speaking fees and slip out the back door," she writes. "They're not standing around on garish hotel ballroom carpet with a plastic cup of cheap chardonnay in one hand and a stack of business cards in the other."
Their advice, she goes on to say, tends to be generic and unhelpful, designed to gain followers — or encourage people to use LinkedIn — more than to help readers. While there are undoubtedly some useful bits of advice mixed in, there is no clear reason why seeking that advice on LinkedIn is a better idea than going directly to sources more related to design or another specific field.
Ultimately, you probably don't need LinkedIn for design jobs for a full-time position, but it can only help to have a profile that highlights your accomplishments. Who knows? Your next potential employer may turn out to be your college roommate's aunt. Just don't pin all your career hopes on that possibility.
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