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LinkedIn’s professional environment causes large generation gap

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Courtesy of Creative Commons at

Since its creation in 2003, LinkedIn has helped business personnel connect with over 230 million employers and employees around the world, according to Digital Marketing Ramblings.

One of the few social networks not dominated by teenagers, the average LinkedIn user is 41 years old, according to Linked Strategies.

Why is that?

“The way I like to describe it is Facebook with a suit on,” said Cindy Parnell, the director of Career Services at Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus. “It’s a professional site, not a ‘connect with friends’ site.”

Business Insider found that the largest demographic of LinkedIn users are those aged 35-54, who make up 39.8 percent of LinkedIn users in the Unites States. The 18-24 demographic makes up just 18.1 percent of the LinkedIn population.

That percentage suggests that about eight out of 10 individuals in the 18-24 age group do not have a LinkedIn — in fact, some have no idea what the website is.

Chris Lott is a 17-year-old from Riverside, Calif. When asked how he uses LinkedIn, he responded with a laugh:

“What if I don’t know what LinkedIn is?” he said. “I don’t know what LinkedIn is.”

Alec Cardenas is a 19-year-old student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He does not have a LinkedIn either, but believes that teenagers should wait until they develop more professional experience before creating a LinkedIn account.

“I feel like teenagers don’t really have any business having a LinkedIn account at their age, given their schooling and lifestyle at the time,” said Cardenas.

“I think…generally 35 to 45 year olds have already participated in higher education institutions,” he continued. “[They have] had much more time to build up their resumes and work experience, which are all great criteria to include on your LinkedIn profile.”

Many professionals in various industries are using LinkedIn to connect with potential employees, especially those in a younger demographic, according to Parnell.

“Professionals use it as a recruiting tool,” she said. “They’ll source LinkedIn for people that have put resume details, work history, [and] their education on LinkedIn and if it’s a good match for their company, the company will reach out to people, based on their profile, to apply for positions within their organization.”

As a result, the older demographic will continue to create accounts while the younger demographic waits to put their foot in the game.

Should that be improved so that their are more young people on LinkedIn?

“I don’t know if I want it to be improved until students understand how to best utilize [the website],” said Parnell.

Parnell also said that she is actually more comfortable with students waiting until they are ready to make an account, rather than making one just to say they have one.

“The student philosophy we hear is ‘Facebook is my social outlet, I don’t want employers dabbling in that [and] LinkedIn is my professional image’, and that’s what I want to establish,” she said.

“If students can’t bridge that and understand that difference, I don’t want them attempting LinkedIn with all that their doing with Facebook because they’re completely separate.”

The generation gap is very apparent on LinkedIn, but experts, like Parnell, are saying that it is a good thing.

On next week’s edition of Generation Update, we will tackle Pinterest and focus on the generation gap of the popular website.