5 Reasons Why Millennials Aren’t Using LinkedIn (Updated: 2020)
By Allen M. Q. Communications Associate for the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University.
Update: May 8, 2020
In the 4 years since writing this piece, surprisingly this article remains very relevant. I haven’t seen any real evolution in LinkedIn besides LinkedIn Learning that would draw the Millennial crowd and younger to using the service on a regular basis. The same reasons I presented back in 2016 remain the same reasons why Millennials still aren’t using LinkedIn in 2020.
I’ve been on LinkedIn for a few years, and been an active user on and off during that period. It took me quite some time to really get into it, but I now find myself using it everyday and I see the benefits and potential from investing time and energy into the platform. Unfortunately, my opinion is not shared with most other Millennials I come across.
When I go to ask my friends and colleagues about LinkedIn, the majority of them are either not on it or have an account but never use it. In fact, most of them had rather negative things to say. I decided to examine this further, see if it’s just my social circle, or if this was a general Millennial feeling.
In an official study done by LinkedIn in May 2016 (as reported in Adweek), it was revealed that:
- There are some 2 billion millennials globally, and 87 million of them are on LinkedIn, accounting for 38 percent of its user base.
- More than 11 million global millennial decision makers are on LinkedIn, accounting for 12 percent of total millennials.
I was surprised at these findings. Social media is dominated by Millennials everywhere else, but on LinkedIn, the main demographic is 35+. You would think LinkedIn would also feature a large percentage, but in the official study, less than half of young people aren’t using LinkedIn. That’s troublesome.
Based on my conversations with my friends and colleagues and my own personal frustrations and issues when first using LinkedIn personally, here’s a couple reasons why LinkedIn may not be attracting Millennials.
1. Too many “rules”/ Too structured: While it’s not necessarily set in stone, LinkedIn has its own netiquette and rules that aren’t on any other platform, and it’s not always obvious what those are.
For many Millennials, they often aren’t sure what is and isn’t suitable for LinkedIn. And people on here can be brutal if you mess up or do something they perceive as “unsuitable for LinkedIn”. I have witnessed someone’s update getting slammed by professionals publicly shaming that person for it. I could see why Millennials may find this intimidating and get scared off.
In addition, creating a profile on here can be a bit overwhelming. There’s a lot of questions, and sections to fill out to make your profile complete. For a student or recent graduate just starting out and lacking in experience and skills, this is too much.
For me, I stuck with LinkedIn. It took me a few months to play around with my LinkedIn profile until I was content with it. Most Millennials don’t want to invest that amount of time perfecting their profiles the way I and other LinkedIn users have done.
2. It’s not a “Fun” Social Media: Social media is used by Millennials to express themselves and be entertained and amused. They don’t see LinkedIn as being “fun”, and not something they want to use on their free time, especially after a long day of work and school. Millennials aren’t “wowed” by LinkedIn, and therefore see the need to use it.
3. It’s neither private nor exclusive. EVERYONE can see your stuff: Millennials don’t like the fact that people are notified when they’re visiting profiles, and vice versa. It can be incredibly intimidating knowing that a CEO or major player you were researching saw you were doing so and is now looking at your profile in return.
In addition, many millennials I’ve spoken with are just not comfortable having their entire employment and academic history, along with their contact information (email, social media handles, phone number), displayed so publicly for everyone to see and access.
While you can go private, it defeats the purpose of being on LinkedIn and not a lot of people are aware this option even exists.
4. No one to connect with: This links to #3 with respect to privacy and intimidation. My friends and colleagues have said to me that connecting with random strangers on LinkedIn is “weird” and the idea of reaching out in such a way makes them uncomfortable.
For me, I don’t see it that way. I see connections as people who I have shared interests with and are like-minded. I don’t find connecting with anyone on LinkedIn scary or intimidating. In fact, I’m all about expanding my network and connecting with leaders and colleagues around the world.
But many Millennials don’t share my view and to a degree I can understand. They find the idea of reaching out and attempting to connect with people (especially influential, higher-up leaders) daunting. Not everyone has that confidence.
5. Premium is way too expensive: I kind of agree with this. The job seeker premium subscription per month is a bit too expensive for most Millennials and it’s very unlikely, especially with the increased rental prices and cost of student debts, they will add LinkedIn to their regular monthly bill when trying to find work.
To Sum It Up: I truly believe the major reason for this disconnect between LinkedIn and Millennials is that the majority of them just don’t “get it” and that’s too bad. It took me time to stray away from this line of thinking as well. Nowadays, I’ve come to love LinkedIn and I think it’s a very beneficial and necessary platform if you put the time and effort into it. If you’re a Millennial who does see the advantages of LinkedIn and uses it effectively, it can be very beneficial and advantageous, especially knowing most of your contemporaries aren’t using it.
However, could LinkedIn (and now Microsoft) also be to blame? Yes, to a degree. They need to find a way to improve their marketing and show Millennials the importance of networking and the benefits they achieve from investing their time and energy into LinkedIn.
We shall see with this recent study, how (or if) LinkedIn does anything about it.
What do you think LinkedIn can do to reverse the disconnect and appeal to Youth?