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Welcome to the Study!

There are hundreds of social networking sites to which the world has access to use. The most common are Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. LinkedIn is another social network that, unlike the other three I just mentioned, focuses on professional networking. 

Designed to help users create professional pages to make connections, share resumes, and find jobs, there are over 225 million members on LinkedIn (LinkedIn About Us, 2020). LinkedIn helps users professionally present themselves and allows companies to post job openings and share who they are. LinkedIn is used in multiple ways. Users have the opportunity to create a professional network, write articles on topics that interest them, and keep up with what companies and colleagues are doing. 

This study will explore how public relation professionals use LinkedIn in their careers, focusing on senior-level and mid-level employees. Professionals, entry-level employees, and recent graduates need to know how to use the many benefits of LinkedIn. For this project, I will examine the ways public relations professionals use the networking site and ask them to explain why they created the profile and how they use it.

Please leave comments and questions or reach out to me via email to discuss this project!

Purpose of Making an Account

There are many reasons why someone can choose to create a LinkedIn account. It gives employers the option to see your professional brand and personality, allows you to find jobs in your area, and keep up to date with worldly news on the same social networking site.

The reasons behind creating a LinkedIn account are very similar. It revolves around knowing LinkedIn is an excellent way to network professionally, make a way to present themselves and their skills, or was told by other professionals that it was a now needed requirement for the workplace.

All respondents agreed that they created LinkedIn to network and showcase their skills. Senior-level director of strategic communications at Sunrise Hospital created their account to “elevate his visibility with peers and leaders in the business community.” Most mid-level employees created their accounts due to it being for a class assignment or highly suggested by college professors and professionals.

“When I started enrolling in classes specifically for my public relations major and marketing minor, professors strongly advised us to create a LinkedIn account and spruce it up to the best of our abilities, so we could get ahead on applying to internships.”

Senior Account Coordinator at Merkle

There are many reasons behind creating a LinkedIn account. Sarah Rycraft, a personal career coach at Renovo, wrote an article about the 7 Benefits of using LinkedIn. She says that LinkedIn “gives you the ability to showcase your profile, expertise, recommendations, and connections, not only is your profile the first professional impression of you when recruiters and employers use LinkedIn to search for candidates…”

Why did you create a LinkedIn profile? If you haven’t made one, what may be holding you back? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me!

What do you do on LinkedIn?

A LinkedIn member can use the networking site to find the right job or internship, create professional relationships, and learn the skills you need to begin, succeed, and advance in your career. Members can use LinkedIn to join groups, write and share articles, and post photos and videos. Users can use LinkedIn to stay connected with past classmates and colleagues.

Mid-level employees said they log onto LinkedIn to keep up with past classmates and colleagues and create their digital profiles. Senior-level employees log on to share and read articles. All respondents agreed they use LinkedIn to connect and network with people in their work and community. The senior-level associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas posts articles that she thinks students and alumni would appreciate. A former student, now the senior account coordinator at Merkle, is one of those students who enjoy reading those posts. See graph below. 

Graph 1. Uses on LinkedIn

Senior-level employees log on almost daily to check content and connections, while mid-level employees will log on 2-4 times per week. Senior-level employees also interact more often than mid-level. Mid-level employees do not share, like, or comment as often on LinkedIn. However, they are more likely to do this on their social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. 

None of the respondents believe they use LinkedIn for all of its benefits, even though two respondents have a premium membership. Senior-level communication advisor at Midcontinent Independent System Operator uses his company’s LinkedIn account services but has yet to use them for his personal account.

You can pay for a premium membership for $29.99 a month, which gives users access to see who viewed their profiles, interview preparation, and learning courses. To learn more about what LinkedIn can offer a user, read The Benefits of Using LinkedIn For Your Career.

How do you use your LinkedIn account? Do you think a premium membership is worth the extra money? If you have the premium membership, how does it help you in your career or find a job? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me!

LinkedIn vs. Others

With over 766 million users worldwide, LinkedIn has always been one of the most popular social media/networking sites. Most participants only use it to search for jobs in their area, and when they aren’t job hunting, they will spend less time on the site. However, LinkedIn is a way to make professional connections and build relationships with individuals and businesses.

LinkedIn isn’t as “social” as other sites because it is a business and job-oriented site. The senior-level associate professor at UCA says she “definitely [uses LinkedIn] less because of the professional nature of it.” She enjoys using Twitter to keep up with breaking news. “I use Twitter way more than I do LinkedIn, but I get equal value from both since they feed each other information on who I should network with and what companies/jobs I should look into.” One mid-level employee uses LinkedIn to network with potential workplaces and bosses. He also uses Twitter to connect with others. “To find the right people to network with on Twitter, I’ll use LinkedIn as the resource to crosscheck their company/job role,” says the (former) digital marketing specialist for The Communications Group. 

Respondents found Facebook and Instagram as a place to connect with family, friends, and pop culture. Twitter is used for both making professional connections as well as friends and family. The senior-level marketing director at FTN Associates says they use LinkedIn the same amount as Facebook, but more often than Twitter. She believes that LinkedIn and Facebook get the best views, impressions, and comments. The senior-level CEO of Ghidotti Communications rarely uses her personal Twitter but is continuously pushing out content on all social media platforms. “LinkedIn is considered a professional social media platform. It doesn’t contain a lot of the silliness that other platforms do. I feel confident that our posts on LinkedIn reach the people we want to reach.” says the senior-level marketing director at FTN Associates. 

The respondents who use LinkedIn more often like to use that platform to find articles specified to their interests and learn or use it for their workplace. Facebook and Instagram are used to socialize, while LinkedIn is used to network and learn.

“LinkedIn is like a professional version of Facebook, so it’s also interesting to read what other people are saying about trending topics such as politics, which I get amusement out of because some people do show their true colors on LinkedIn – just like Facebook.”

Senior Account Coordinator at Merkle

In the United States, there are (roughly) 190 million Facebook users, 170 million LinkedIn users, 130 million Instagram users, and 68 million Twitter users. However, it seems that most LinkedIn users choose to spend more time on other social networking sites than LinkedIn.

How do you use your LinkedIn account versus using your other social media accounts? Do you use LinkedIn for social use or only professional? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me!

Using LinkedIn to Secure a Job

One of the main reasons why people create a LinkedIn is to find a job or internship. With more than 20 million companies listed on the site and 20 million open jobs, it’s no surprise to find out that 87% of recruiters regularly use LinkedIn worldwide. There are over 14 million active job openings worldwide on LinkedIn. All but one participant has found a job by using LinkedIn’s benefits.

While LinkedIn has a job search page, two mid-level employees received a job through the app differently. The digital content producer at THV11 Williams found her job at THV11 in Little Rock by reaching out to the assistant news director on LinkedIn. She sent a list of her experiences and her portfolio. The digital content producer at THV11 was messaged back and had an interview within two weeks. At the interview, her LinkedIn profile was mentioned twice with how impressive it was. Three years later, she is still at THV11. 

The senior account coordinator at Merkle had a similar experience. He had received a rejection email for a job he interviewed for. He wanted to grow and learn how to improve himself for future job interviews and connected with the team members who interviewed him and sent each of them a private message asking if they could advise and explain his strengths and weaknesses. From there, they decided to offer him the job he applied for because he was the only candidate they’ve ever had to do this. The mid-level (former) digital marketing specialist for The Communications Group and mid-level marketing coordinator at the Saline County Public Library got their first jobs from LinkedIn’s job search and still go there periodically to save jobs in their area.

When searching for jobs on LinkedIn, there are multiple ways to do it. You can search by job titles, skills, companies, or specific areas. You can sign up for job alerts that will send you a notification if a job you may be interested in becomes available. You can even find jobs based on salary. LinkedIn also gives its user’s interview preparation, resume builder, and skill assessments so they can go into job hunting fully prepared.

Have you ever secured a job using LinkedIn? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me!

Participants

Out of the mid-level employees: One employee is a digital content producer at THV11. Four employees have marketing titles. These people work for a public library, a law firm, Rock Region Metro, and a public relations firm. Four have public relations in their titles. These people work for two different public relations firms. One is both marketing and public relations coordinator for their job. One is a graduate assistant for UA Little Rock. One is an administrative assistant for a construction company and has a helping hand in their marketing department. One is a community and government relations manager at Central Arkansas Water. 

Out of the senior-level employees: Two work at hospitals. One of these hospitals is in Las Vegas, but he has a permanent residence in Little Rock and worked at Children’s Hospital for thirteen years. Five employees have communication titles. These people work for Entergy, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, a hospital, and at Midcontinent Independent System Operator. One owns a major communications firm. Two have marketing titles, who work for Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield and FTN Associates. Two are Vice Presidents, one over marketing and one over public relations for their companies. One is a senior account coordinator at a major marketing firm. One is an associate professor at the University of Central Arkansas.

I choose this group of employees to participate in my study because of the vast differences in current and past jobs. It is a mixture of employees who have been working for ten plus years or a couple of months. Some are recently graduated or have been in the workforce for years. Not everyone I reached out to chose to participate in the study, saying they did not get on LinkedIn enough to participate in my research. Employee titles and years are listed below.

Mid LevelSenior Level
(Former) Digital Marketing Specialist for The Communications GroupDirector of Strategic Communications at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas for two years. Former Director of Marketing, Communications, and Branding at Arkansas Children’s Hospital for 13 years.
Digital Content Producer at THV11 for two years.Marketing Director at FTN Associates for 13 years.
Marketing Coordinator at the Saline County Public Library for three years.Director of Business Development at The BridgeWay Hospital for 13 years.
Graduate Assistant at UA Little Rock in Communications at the College of Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences, and Education.Owner of Ghidotti Communications for 14 years.
Director of Marketing and Business Development at Rose Law Firm for three years.Vice President of Corporate Marketing at Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield for two years, former Vice President of Communications and Marketing at CARTI for 15 years.
Administrative Assistant for Paramount Metal Systems for three years.Vice President of Public Relations at MHP/Team SI for nine years, VP for two years.
Public Relations Specialist at MHP/Team SI for one year.Director of Communications at Conway Area Chamber of Commerce for ten years.
Marketing Communications Associate at Rock Region Metro for three years.Associate Professor at the University of Central Arkansas for eight years.
Public Relations Manager at MHP/Team SI for one year.Senior Account Coordinator at Merkle for two years.
Community and Government Relations Manager at Central Arkansas Water for one month, former Media Specialist for two years.Communications Specialist at Entergy Arkansas INC for one year, former Adjunct Instructor at Arkansas State University-Beebe for nine years.
PR Specialist at The Communications Group.
Public Relations Director at The Communications Group.
Communication Advisor at Midcontinent Independent System Operator for two years.
Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator at Today’s Power, Inc. for five years. 

What is LinkedIn?

Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, LinkedIn is used for professional networking. “LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network on the internet” (LinkedIn, 2020). A person can use LinkedIn to find a job or internship, create a professional relationship, and learn the needed skills to succeed in a career. On LinkedIn, users can share their professional backgrounds such as past work experience, education, skills, and even recommendations on their online profile. A user can also write articles and post pictures and videos. Like other social networking sites, people look at a profile to see who the user is. Users can share their resume, accomplishments, articles they are interested in or wrote themselves, and more. 

“LinkedIn is a platform for anyone looking to navigate their professional life” (LinkedIn, 2020). Anyone is allowed to create a LinkedIn account, from small-town business owners to students. “LinkedIn members can harness the power of LinkedIn to tap into a network of professionals, companies, and groups in their industry and beyond” (LinkedIn, 2020). 

According to LinkedIn, there are over 704 million users worldwide, with 189 million being from North America. More than 46 million students and recent graduates on LinkedIn (Brett, 2018.) 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, and 63 million are in decision-making positions (LinkedIn, 2020.) 

LinkedIn has five main pages: Home, My Network, Jobs, Messaging, and Me. 

  • Like other social sites, the Home Page is where users can see their network’s posts and choose to like, share, or comment on them.
  • My Network is where users can make connections. People can add each other as connections, but both parties must approve the request before making that connection. 
  • Jobs is where users can search and apply for jobs. They can search for jobs based on location or other keywords. A user can choose to get notifications when new jobs are posted. 
  • On Messaging, users can chat with people in their network or outside of their network if they allow it. 
  • Me is the user’s profile. It closely resembles his or her resume. Users can summarize themselves and show their past and current work history, accomplishments, volunteering history, education, where they live, and more. Users can decide what they choose to share, but they are encouraged to keep it professional. 

To create a LinkedIn account, all one needs to do is create an online profile that summarizes their professional experience. The more detailed the page, the more a potential employer or recruiter can understand the user. “Your profile represents your professional life and milestones, where people can find you and stay updated on your professional activity” (LinkedIn, 2020). Once the profile is created, users can build their network. They can search for people, add them to their network, and see what they share on their page. They can also search and follow major companies, athletes, and celebrities such as Microsoft and even LeBron James. Users can easily interact in conversations throughout LinkedIn. 

Users can also find a job on LinkedIn. They can search for companies and begin interacting with them and seeing if they have any job openings. On the “Jobs” page, users can search for jobs based on location or keywords. If a user chooses to apply, it can be as simple as clicking a button and attaching his or her resume. “Many people use the site to grow their contacts and find career opportunities, and the Jobs section of the site is a powerful tool for finding and applying for jobs. There are settings on LinkedIn that lets a user alert recruiters that they are actively job searching as well” (Johnson, 2019).

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Brett, J. (2018, September 4). The World Cup Discussion, What Students Are Reading, and More Learnings from LinkedIn’s Content Insights Quarterly. Retrieved from                https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/blog/linkedin-news/2018/the-world-cup-discussion–what-students-are-reading–and-more-le

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Johnson, D. (2019, September 6). ‘What is LinkedIn?’: A beginner’s guide to the popular professional networking and career development site. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/what-is-linkedin

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