I love LinkedIn. It’s the only social media platform I use. As you might guess, it’s the database of choice for recruiters.
Pause for appreciation: Thank you, all of you, for sharing your career path on LinkedIn, so I can find you when I have cool opportunities for you.
What I appreciate most about LinkedIn are the Profiles and the Feed. On the other hand, I really quite despise LinkedIn’s Jobs feature. I always encourage my clients not to bother paying to post there, and instead I recommend posting job opportunities to the organization’s feed.
To be fair, I feel the same way about LinkedIn’s competitor-imitators such as Indeed.
The job boards I lean towards are simple posting sites, designed to list jobs and send job seekers directly to the organization’s website for details. You’ll find a list of my favorite impact sector job-posting sites on my webpage For Job Seekers.
I could rant for hours, but here are my top four reasons to avoid the Jobs feature on LinkedIn:
1. It is not designed for the social sector
Many times I have heard from nonprofit and philanthropy job seekers that it is really confusing to find jobs in our sector on LinkedIn. Let’s start with the way the “Company Industry” field is misused in the platform to describe our sector. “Nonprofit Organization Management” is not an industry—sorry. And how is “Fund-Raising” a separate industry? And unfortunately, I notice that organizations with a more specific focus find themselves wedged awkwardly into a different Industry category – for example, climate and clean energy advocacy organizations having to select the label “Oil & Energy”.
Job titles and skills are also frequently mis-matched. Typical impact sector phrases like “program manager” and “fund development” have radically different meanings in other sectors. There are entire career tracks that aren’t well represented on LinkedIn. Two that come immediately to mind: 1) community organizers and 2) grants management professionals within grantmaking organizations.
This problem equally causes confusion for the hiring team. Using LinkedIn’s “Skills” field to select requirements for nonprofit or philanthropic roles is an exercise in futility at least half of the time.
2. It’s not that sophisticated
We expect LinkedIn, like other social media platforms, to personalize and present content that matches our prior activity on the site. However, because poor back-end design causes LinkedIn to misunderstand the phrases we use in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector to describe job duties, it does a terrible job of serving us appropriate content.
A platform like this one is expected to present a satisfyingly narrow set of search results, or an email with “jobs you might like” that actually align with our LinkedIn profile and search activity. Instead, for those seeking impact jobs, searches produce a hodgepodge of job listings from corporate or academia, with the occasional listing in nonprofit or philanthropy.
Frankly, when looking for a new job, you don’t have time for this “throw spaghetti at the wall” approach, especially from an established platform such as LinkedIn.
3. It’s not clear how much the post actually costs
This point is salient primarily for the hiring organization. LinkedIn has changed its pricing for job posts so many times over the years, I can’t keep track. The basic job boards I favor are easy: pay a flat fee for a 30- or 60-day posting. LinkedIn’s job board once followed that pricing model – it was on the pricier side, but similar to other large cross-industry job boards.
At some point, LinkedIn changed from a flat fee to pay-per-click, following the model of internet-wide ad revenue. Now it’s possible to post for free – maybe? – but LinkedIn encourages the hiring team to promote the job post with its “flexible pricing model” (i.e., pay-per-click). But given what I’ve described above, the post is almost guaranteed to be promoted to the wrong people. The hiring organization ends up paying for page views by individuals whose qualifications aren’t aligned.
This impacts job seekers in that the hiring team will shut down a posting after a few days of these low-ROI, high-cost charges. Often I’ve clicked on a LinkedIn job – posted only a few days before, and just getting traction in terms of circulation – that is marked as “No longer accepting applications”. In most cases, it was closed not because the organization filled the position, but because the LinkedIn job listing was overwhelmingly expensive.
4. It’s too easy to apply for jobs
With very few clicks, the “Apply” button on a LinkedIn job post allows you to submit your LinkedIn profile to any job.
Maybe this sounds like a good thing, but I promise you: it is just as bad for job seekers as it is for the hiring team.
Making it easy for anyone to apply means that, well, anyone can apply. The volume of applicants is unmanageable, requiring the recruiter or hiring team to sift through a large number of unqualified applicants to discover a small handful of highly aligned candidates. As an applicant, the free-for-all makes it much harder to stand out and get noticed. (It’s another reason why job posts are closed quickly.)
With 1-Click apply, LinkedIn skips a critically important step: Explaining why you want the job. I explained the importance of cover letters in a previous blog post. In the impact sector, a LinkedIn profile only tells a small portion of the story of “why this role, why this organization”.
A LinkedIn profile tells a linear career path story, but it’s not flexible enough for impact sector applicants to adequately convey different facets of their fit for a job. Much more effective is a tailored resume that highlights alignment with the job description – which may include specific interests, volunteer experience, or a personal circumstance that isn’t necessarily part of your work history.
If not LinkedIn Jobs, then what?
Fortunately, there are many ways to find interesting job opportunities in the impact sector. For best results, I recommend job boards that focus generally on the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, or on specific sub-sectors such as fundraising or impact investing. Check out a few of my favorites on my For Job Seekers webpage.