Why do people use LinkedIn regularly?

Career networks: do I really need a profile on Xing and LinkedIn?

Presenting yourself in social networks is (felt) becoming more and more important: We share our vacation photos on Instagram, comment on political events on Twitter and follow on Facebook what old school friends are up to today. This trend was introduced a few years ago not only in the private sector, but also in working life.

Millions of people maintain their profiles on platforms such as LinkedIn or Xing. The latter describes itself with 16 million members as the leading social network for professional contacts in German-speaking countries. According to the company, 13 million people in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and more than 610 million members worldwide, network via the internationally oriented LinkedIn.

We asked three experts how important profiles really are in career networks.

Why do we need online networks like Xing and LinkedIn at all?

In the past, as today's generation of grandparents says, you could only find a job through an advertisement in the Saturday edition of the newspaper. Nowadays things look different: You regularly hear that your former colleague, neighbor or friend of your aunt has received a great job offer on Xing or LinkedIn. But does it really happen that often?

Professor Michael Heister heads the Initiatives for Vocational Training Department at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and is responsible for the federal government's continuing education strategy, among other things. He says: "Profiles in networks like Xing or LinkedIn are overrated. In our evaluations, we see relatively well which channels are used in companies. These are still more the classic channels such as online portals or job advertisements on the company homepage, and career networks like LinkedIn or Xing are less common. " Only one to three percent of all settings have their origin on one of these channels.

A profile on Xing or LinkedIn can still be worthwhile

Nevertheless, Heister is of the opinion that appearing in a career network is worthwhile: "In theory, you can also do without a smartphone. But the opportunity to network via these portals is incredibly enriching the million members meanwhile around a quarter of all working people is represented there. " And he predicts: "Xing and LinkedIn simply do not yet play a central role in filling vacancies. In recent years, however, there has been a slow increase and the importance will continue to increase."

Claudia Lange-Hetmann, who heads the Career Service of the University of Augsburg and advises students there on all aspects of career entry, names two aspects why one should use career networks such as Xing or LinkedIn: "One is to build a good profile yourself online to to be found by companies and HR professionals. " She compares that to an electronic application folder. A second aspect is the possibility of research: "On other profiles you will often find suggestions, such as which competencies you have in addition to your specialist knowledge and which tools you should be familiar with."

Which professional groups should Xing, LinkedIn and Co. use?

Xing and LinkedIn make it easy to keep in touch with fellow students from your studies, former colleagues or acquaintances from your internship. On both platforms, users can create a profile and fill it with both professional and private data. Studies, training and professional career are tabulated as in the curriculum vitae. In addition, users can save a profile photo, their interests and skills. Other users can be found using the search function in order to network with them.

The self-employed in particular benefit from this, explains Jörg Hohlfeld. He works as a career coach in Augsburg and Munich and says: "The self-employed can use the networks to address customers. I can write to people there directly. Or I can advertise and draw attention to myself." However, Hohlfeld has the impression that the platforms are more interesting for people who work in the private sector than for those in social professions or the health sector.

Michael Heister from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training sees it in a very similar way: "It's almost a must for freelancers. For trainers and coaches, LinkedIn in particular has become a real sales channel. And for people who have completed a degree and are now in the field of vocational training, for example or are active in science, these networks are more important than in the craft sector. " The Researchgate platform is also of great relevance for scientists.

Claudia Lange-Hetmann puts it into perspective: "It is always a question of what goal you are pursuing," she says. "If you want to stay in the region professionally, you can of course just as easily appear in person at specialist events or network events."

Online career networks: what is the perfect profile?

The three experts agree on one thing: A complete résumé and a professional photo are particularly important when appearing on Xing or LinkedIn. As Michael Heister knows from his own experience, many HR managers also look at the digital appearances of their applicants. "Instead of having huge gaps in your résumé, write what you have done during that time. Times have changed: You should definitely include a year sabbatical or for work and travel, HR professionals think that is a good thing."

Claudia Lange-Hetmann adds: "If your profile is too flippant or too poor, does not contain any information about what you are offering and looking for, then you can leave it."

In addition, there were no platitudes when making contact, says career coach Hohlfeld: "An example: 'I saw that we have the same interests. For future synergy effects, I ask you to contact us.' You should avoid such empty phrases and only look for contacts. that you really care. "

Is a premium account on Xing or LinkedIn worthwhile?

On both Xing and LinkedIn, private individuals have the option of activating additional functions for their accounts using premium models that are subject to a fee. The cheapest option on Xing costs € 7.95 per month, and on LinkedIn € 29.49 per month. Is it worth it?

Jörg Hohlfeld says: "A premium account is worthwhile if, for example, I consciously want to use the search functions professionally. Or if I want to use certain additional services, such as discounted rates for hotels or rental cars." And Michael Heister also says: "If you are serious about looking for a job, a premium membership is worthwhile. Otherwise you don't need it."

We want to know what you think: The Augsburger Allgemeine therefore works with the opinion research institute Civey. Read here what the representative surveys are all about and why you should register.