The purpose of this paper is to identify the elements of a LinkedIn profile that hiring professionals focus on most, and then examine LinkedIn profiles in terms of these identified elements across different industries.
The methodology was comprised of two phases. In the first phase, researchers interviewed hiring professionals to determine their usage of LinkedIn. In the second phase, LinkedIn group member profiles from three industries – HR, sales/marketing and industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology – were compared on the 21 variables identified in Phase 1 (n=288).
χ2 and ANOVA tests showed significant differences with respect to ten of the LinkedIn variables in how people presented themselves across the three groups. There were also several gender differences found.
A general limitation was the use of a qualitative research approach. A limitation of Phase 1 was that only a small sample of New York City-based hiring professionals was interviewed. Perhaps a wider, more diverse sample would have yielded different variables. In terms of Phase 2, it is possible that just utilizing the second connections of the researchers limited the generalizability of findings.
User unwillingness to fully complete the LinkedIn profile suggests that it may not have replaced the traditional resume yet. Sales/marketing professionals were more likely than HR and I/O psychology professionals to complete multiple aspects of a LinkedIn profile. Women were also less likely than men to provide personal information on their profiles.
Most of the empirical research on social networking sites has focussed on Facebook, a non-professional site. This is, from the knowledge, the first study that systematically examined the manner in which people present themselves on LinkedIn – the most popular professional site used by applicants and recruiters worldwide.
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