By Emily Gurchiek—Starting Sept. 12, LinkedIn Corp. will allow U.S. high school students, as young as 14, to create a professional-networking profile. This change has brought into question whether the function of the site will still be beneficial for college students and professionals who seek to connect for professional reasons.
To be a go-to resource for colleges and their potential students, LinkedIn will also offer a new feature, “University Pages.” This feature is designed to encourage colleges to build profiles on LinkedIn in the same way that companies already do. The hope behind the new feature and audience is to connect the college-bound teenagers to universities, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
With these new LinkedIn members, however, the question of whether or not the site will continue to be a widely-used hiring tool is raised.
Lisa Burke, professor of management, said she thinks the site will either not change because of the lack of interest of the young age group or it would cause businesses to use LinkedIn less as a recruiting tool. If the students did express interest, from the hiring perspective, there may some issues to be concerned about, she said.
“Assuming 14-year-olds would have an interest in making a LinkedIn profile, do they have the savvy and maturity to use it appropriately?” Burke said. “Over time, the concern would be that employers would view the site as too social and less professional than it is now and wouldn’t use it to the extent that they are now. It will be interesting to see how it evolves.”
“I see how the information on LinkedIn for both high school students and universities could be useful to both parties, but I’m confused why LinkedIn is the site that decided to host this new activity,” Burke said. “I would think a whole new website would be created or an addition would be added to an existing one.”
Joel Coles, a Nolensville, Tenn. junior, said he uses his LinkedIn site to allow employers to get a better understanding of who he is and how he can be an asset to their business, eventually leading to employment. He said he thinks there is a possibility of the site becoming less effective, but he does not think it is very likely.
“I could see it becoming an unprofessional site if the younger people take it as a joke and aren’t serious,” Coles said. “But, I never underestimate people’s inexperience. It just depends on how serious they feel like the site is.”