Why not more students on LinkedIn

Doomed to die? How Xing and LinkedIn could lose a new generation of workers

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Xing and LinkedIn could soon no longer play a role in working life. The reason for this is a new generation that is fundamentally changing the way in which jobs are sought and found: the smartphone generation, also known as “Generation Z”. While the career networks have become an important job search tool for previous generations, Generation Z has shown little interest so far.

If you ask young career starters today whether they have accounts with the best-known professional networks, the answer is usually: “No, why should I?”, Provided that they know the site at all.

Young people do not feel that they are being taken seriously

9 million people in Germany belong to Generation Z, that's what researchers call those born after 1995. The life of the so-called Zettler takes place on the Internet - friends, family, trends, longings. For comparison: 47 million Germans are 47 or older, the so-called baby boomers are currently shaping society, economy and politics. And the younger generation often accuses them of not taking their concerns seriously - the most recent examples: The dispute over the new EU copyright reform through Article 13 or the FridayforFuture.

At the worldwide demonstrations by thousands of schoolchildren for more climate protection, many teachers, politicians or parents order young people to go back to school - instead of taking care of their concerns. And also with the disputes about the upload filters for various Internet sites there was great resistance from the Zettlers - without success.

An important reality of life for Generation Z, like that of Generation Y, is the Internet. Of course, people are also looking for professional opportunities and jobs there - and they are happy to be found. So far, career networks like Xing or LinkedIn have taken on the role of intermediaries between interested parties and companies. So far and no further?

5 percent of users are under 26 years of age

At least the own figures that Xing publishes speak for this. With 15 million users, 7 percent are students and young professionals. The age structure also confirms this: only 5 percent are under 26 years old.

Things are looking a little better with the US competitor Linkedin. With over 600 million users, including 13 million in Germany, around 8 percent are students, the statistics do not even show young professionals, and nothing is known about the age of the users.

Xing sees potential in the age group: “It is in the nature of things that a network for which you must be at least 18 years old and which is designed for white-collar workers is primarily of interest to experienced professionals. However, we have noticed that the services such as aptitude tests, finding entry-level, internship and working student positions as well as information on entry-level salaries, which we offer specifically for students, are being used extensively, "explains the company at the request of Business Insider.

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Generation Z: the realistic ones

In order to understand why this generation has apparently been little convinced of career networks so far, one should first look at what expectations those born after 1995 have of the world of work. Professor Christian Scholz is one of the best-known generation researchers who deal with Generation Z and the associated social change: “There are three basic criteria: The Zettlers want a clear structure, want security and the opportunity to realize themselves. But all of these things happen under the central requirement of absolutely separating professional and private life, ”he says in an interview with Business Insider.

The Millennials, as the members of Generation Y are called, were the ones who made Xing and Linkedin their success. In contrast to what some HR managers do, according to Christian Scholz the Zettler should not be viewed as a modified version of this, but rather as an independent, new generation. If you keep that in mind, it quickly becomes clear that different generations have different approaches to job hunting. In contrast to the previous generation, for whom career and networking were much more important, the Zettler company promises would have been less trusted because they would have seen that their predecessors would often not have kept them.

One of the reasons why Scholz describes it in his book “Generation Z: How it ticks, what changes it and why it infects us all” as “more realistic”. Someone who deals with such things cannot be blinded by the résumés in career networks.

"It's just too much of a good thing."

Scholz emphasizes that the potential for success naturally depends on the career portal and the user. However, it is important to fundamentally assume that the community that romps about on career networks is not the one in which the Zettlers feel comfortable, because the big, fast career leaps are often not in the foreground for them.

In general, according to Scholz, the platform looks outdated and the profiles are set. While young people try to express their personality on Instagram and Snapchat by showing photos and videos of things that are important to them, they see little individualism in career portals. Patrice, 16, is of a similar opinion. She still has a year until her Abitur exams, so planning her professional career is becoming more and more important for her: “I have the feeling that the users are marketing themselves more positively than they actually are. Of course, I recognize the character of a business card, after all, you advertise yourself, but it looks pretty artificial. It's just too much of a good thing. "

Added value strongly dependent on the industry

Chiara, 16, and Hendrik, 17, see a certain added value in career portals, but are not sure whether they would use it as soon as they are 18 and how much they could benefit from it. For Hendrik, the added value of career portals is also heavily dependent on the industry: “Unfortunately, getting information via career portals is of little use to me, because I want to study to become a teacher and the job search or career path through civil servants is a little different. But I know that my father is active on both portals and has had positive experiences there. "

He sees the profile design as positive: “The profiles are often well structured. I think it can be very helpful for employers to see at a glance whether the potential candidate is a good fit for the company. Of course, all relevant information must then be provided for this. "


No added value through career networks

According to Scholz, another reason for the currently weak usage figures could also be the structures on the labor market, because these are constantly changing: “Unlike their previous generation, well-trained workers quickly find a satisfactory job. At the moment, career portals like Xing or LinkedIn are not (yet) anything from which this generation can derive added value. "

This generation draws added value from its social media presence, because Generation Z does not link social media with outdated portals such as Xing or LinkedIn, even Facebook is hardly used by "Gen Z" - Instagram and Snapchat play the central role here : 71 percent of 14 to 29 year olds use the Instagram photo network, 62 percent use Snapchat. Facebook is only in fourth place here, the career networks do not even appear in the statistics.

HR managers google future employees

Gone are the days when young people shared everything on the Internet without reflecting on them. Their social media presence is very important to all three interlocutors, even if their main focus is on networking with friends. Hendrik explains: "My social media presence is relatively important to me, also because I know that someone could look at my profiles to get a first impression."

Social media now plays a major role in the selection of applicants. HR professionals google their applicants and take a close look at public profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Co., compare them and advise on how applicants present themselves.

This was also confirmed by a survey by the digital association Bitkom among HR managers in companies. Two out of three companies would click their way through social media profiles to find out more about potential employees. However, the HR staff set priorities here, because professional issues should be rated higher than private ones. 81 percent would pay particular attention to professional qualifications, one in three to hobbies and private activities, and one in six to political views.

1.2 million vacancies in Germany

On the other hand, companies are only now starting to use social networks to advertise themselves as employers. While many companies have managed to kick off a new, target-oriented advertising age in social networks by letting influencers and YouTube stars hold their products in front of the camera, career opportunities have often not played a major role so far.

This is a wasted opportunity: According to the Institute for Employment Research, almost 1.2 million positions were vacant in Germany in the first quarter of 2018, around 50 percent more than five years ago. For a long time this was due to the applicants' inadequate qualifications, but now there is simply a lack of people who are even looking for work. Small and medium-sized companies in particular suffer from this because they are often less well known.

"It just looks more modern"

Patrice sees a major competitive advantage for employers who present themselves in an appealing way on social networks: “I do believe that job offers on Instagram are also worthwhile. Everyone knows the Bundeswehr campaign and an ice cream parlor in our town has recruited people so quickly. Companies in smaller towns in particular, which you may have seen while driving past or are newly opening, can address you specifically with a good Instagram page. "

She would also find it positive if you can quickly get a good impression of the company, even if she finds an exaggerated social media presence "embarrassing". Instagram is a good way to find out about the premises and the team. In general, her basic attitude towards a potential employer is more positive if he has a good social media profile: "It just looks more modern, as if it were part of it."

Clear job profiles must be created

This is where we should start, because social media, apart from career portals, offers good opportunities here to address digital natives. Nevertheless, companies should proceed in a differentiated manner here. Scholz does not find it sensible to rush to all social media offers at random and then use all possible channels, because that is where the future junior employees romp about. It would be more important to create clear job profiles: “This generation wants solid and secure information. That's what they look for when they sound out their job opportunities. "

Chiara sees it that way too, because when choosing a career, she relies on job fairs and the respective company website: “Personal exchange is important to me. I want clear information and no pictures. "

Christian Scholz would also put a clear focus on the company homepage and provide short, dedicated YouTube videos there: “Zettler would like to have a clear structure and address here as well: These will be my colleagues, this is what my desk will look like and my working hours be." In this way, the young employees could get a good picture of their future activities without getting the feeling that they are being compulsorily recruited with artificial photos.

A large-scale social media strategy is not necessary

Nevertheless, the expert does not completely rule out Instagram: "Our experience also shows that it is well received when employees from the respective companies provide information about entrepreneurial projects on their private profiles, for example post a photo from a conference." That looks more real.

Such a strategy would also be easier to implement for medium-sized and small companies, because a large-scale social media campaign costs time and resources that these companies in particular often do not have.

Greater focus on online applications

Another digital focus should be placed on optimizing the application processes. More and more companies are already using online applications, but more can be done. This was also confirmed by the study “Recruiting Trends 2018” by the Universities of Bamberg and Erlangen together with the Monster career portal, which Business Insider has already reported on.

The scientists questioned the 1,000 largest German companies, which generate more than 50 million euros in sales and employ more than 250 people, on the topics of application and application procedures.

Online applications are trendy: every third new employee is hired via an Internet job portal, and another 30 percent of new employees apply via the company website. This is not only faster, it is also more sustainable, because it saves the paper consumption that is often incurred with conventional applications.

Patrice sees it very positively: “I think online applications are good. However, I hope that as an applicant I will have the choice of whether I prefer to apply online or in person. "

Xing and Co. have to create added value

For German companies, Xing is still the most important career network: In all areas, Xing is way ahead of Instagram, but generally only just under one percent of vacancies are filled with the help of social media. However, a change must take place here in the future, because otherwise the offspring may no longer be recruited in the long term.

Career networks should not be written off completely, because according to Scholz, with an awareness of innovation and by accepting the ideas of the Zettler, they can see a similar added value as in their social media presences.

Xing is trying to do this with new, target group-oriented offers: “In order to continue to be relevant for students and young professionals in the future, we have relaunched our entry to Xing for students - Xing Campus. Users will find improved recommendations for new potential contacts in the network as well as details and information on relevant professional groups, which is now even more intuitive for students to find and use. "

Scholz recommends Xing and LinkedIn to readjust even more intensively by trying to create a space that addresses Generation Z and their needs even more directly: “If you consider that this generation separates work and profession so strictly, it makes sense to just to concentrate on the 50 percent that make up the work. " He suggests structures where the young people can find information and assistance for their daily work reality: "Here questions like" How do I manage to strictly separate work and life? "Can be discussed." Without the self-portrayal aspect.