Does LinkedIn Really Matter for a Job Search in 2020?

LinkedIn matters more than ever for most people's job searches. But, it is not in the way that you think. Here is what you need to know about LinkedIn and the mistakes that most people are making right now in their post-COVID search.

This is the first part of a two part series about whether LinkedIn actually matters for a job search in 2020. LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for any professional in applying to a job, building a professional image, and engaging their network. This is because of the strength in the size system and its the view that it is the social networking site for professionals. However, most people are using LinkedIn incorrectly when applying to jobs.


It is important to know who is on LinkedIn before you can effectively use the system in your job search. Overall, LinkedIn has over 680 million users. The United States represents over 40% of those users and is followed by the United Kingdom (25%), Brazil (17%), China (14%), and India (11%) with all other countries in the world representing the remaining 40%.

In the United States, over 51% of all college graduates use LinkedIn even though they represent only 25% of all people in the United States internet users. Millennials reflect 24% of all LinkedIn users. Men represent over 57% of all LinkedIn users. Four out of 5 LinkedIn members drive the business decisions at their companies – directly or indirectly. (LinkedIn)

LinkedIn reports that its use has increased by 22% in the first quarter of 2020 over the same period in 2019. This is a key statistic to know for a couple of reasons as a job seeker. More than anything it tells you that more people than ever are on LinkedIn.

But, most importantly, there are over 20 Million jobs posted on LinkedIn. You must be a member to apply to these jobs on LinkedIn. And, each month, there is an average of 100 Million applications to those 20 million jobs. Yet, only 4 million people are hired through LinkedIn jobs each month.

How do those people land in the 4.1% of all job applicants that land the job on LinkedIn? Keep reading to find the practices to avoid and the best practices in using LinkedIn in your job search.


People use LinkedIn for various reasons throughout their careers. There is definitely value to the system beyond looking for a job. However, you must think of LinkedIn differently when using the system for your job search. Ultimately, this is because of the technology used by the recruiters and hiring managers in the hiring process which is integrated directly with LinkedIn in many different ways. So, here are the things to avoid when using LinkedIn for your job search:


The tables turned quickly from a candidate market to an employer market with unprecedented unemployment and underemployment of 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19. On average, employers are now seeing as much as a 300% increase in applications to their open positions (on and off of LinkedIn). They are also taking longer to sort through those applications because they can and in many cases have to because of the economic uncertainty. As a result, they are being more selective in who they interview and who is ultimately hired.

To stand out in this current landscape, jobseekers not only need a strong profile, but one that is current and aligns with the types of jobs they are now pursuing. It is easy to let the updates to your LinkedIn profile sit on the backburner while juggling the new normal. But, if you haven’t updated your profile in the past 6 months then it is likely that your profile is out of date. And, if you haven’t updated the profile to complete every field in your profile or to capture all of the keywords that are relevant to your current search, then you are completely invisible.


Recruiters use LinkedIn like a resume database to find people that fit their open positions. The talent acquisition technology that they use, like applicant tracking systems (ATS), is also typically integrated with LinkedIn to pull the data from your profile directly into fields in their database. So, if you have the wrong information or the information in the wrong place on your profile, the recruiter will not be able to find you. Worse, you will be caught in the proverbial blackhole of the ATS never to be seen by a person after applying to a job.


People with a referral to a job are FOUR TIMES more likely to get hired than other candidates. Let that sink in. In fact, in many companies, you will automatically get short-listed for an interview if you have a referral before submitting your application. Most people randomly connect with people on LinkedIn with no real strategy. In that case, you will find yourself with a network filled with gaps of the people you know and the people you want to know.

Failing to build a network also creates some negative perceptions about your profile. For example, fake profiles on LinkedIn are a real thing. If you have minimal connections this could signal a potential fake profile/phishing attempt. Worse, at certain levels and in certain professions, this can be a sign that the person is simply not good at what they do. Recruiters and hiring managers use LinkedIn to establish credibility for a candidate. So, they expect someone will be connected with a certain number of people in their industry or with certain people in order to take them seriously for the open role.


Failing to engage your network beyond the initial connection invitation is one of the most common mistakes of people on LinkedIn. To get and give value with your professional network, you must put energy into it regularly. You cannot expect people to help you reach your career goals if you do not maintain a proactive dialogue with them.

In the time of COVID, this has become easier than ever as more people are on LinkedIn and open to calls or video chats. So, you no longer have to go on a series of time-consuming coffee meetings or happy hours. Instead, you can have focused conversations using all types of technology to create effective dialogue that enables you to create a mutually beneficial relationship without having to post a lot of content or becoming overly caffeinated.


The easy apply function on LinkedIn certainly makes it easy to apply to a high volume of jobs on the system. This is a common pitfall and probably the most unproductive thing to do when applying to jobs on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn receives many of its job postings from the job board aggregator sites (i.e. ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Glassdoor). Meaning that employers will post a job on one of those jobboard aggregators and those sites push the postings out to 100s of other job boards – including LinkedIn. The problem is that most of those sites do not pull those jobs down when they have been closed on their sites. Thus, there are a number of jobs that become stale or outdated on LinkedIn because they simply have been filled elsewhere.

Plus, the Easy Apply function dramatically changes the information that the employer sees when you apply. For a long time, this information was a severely limited version of your profile that forced the person to look at your LinkedIn profile to get the real information (and most didn’t). Although that has gotten better, the information that an employer now sees is simply not your resume. It is still pulled from your LinkedIn profile and if you have an incomplete profile or one that is not built for the jobs you are now pursuing then you will be immediately rejected (or completely ignored).


Finally, the worst thing you can do on LinkedIn is to ignore recruiters and talent acquisition people who reach out to you through the system. There really are people who use LinkedIn to find candidates and they have jobs to fill. If you ignore their message, they will not contact you again. So, in the very least, respond to the person to say thank you, but no thank you and please keep me in mind.

Beyond common courtesy, this is important because the LinkedIn Recruiter portal gives recruiters access to see who is responsive or not on the system so that they can focus their efforts. So, if you do not respond to those inquiries, chances are pretty good that you will fall into that category of people who are not active on LinkedIn and will not be contacted.

Click here to continue reading to discover the right ways to use LinkedIn in your job search that, on average, cut the time of a job search by 50%.