The Best Way to Search for a Job on LinkedIn

young man taking notes

LinkedIn has had a substantial impact on the way that both individuals and organizations engage in the job search process. As many as 75% of job searchers use the social media platform to find a job, and 85% of employers report using LinkedIn in the selection process. However, little is known about the benefits or drawbacks of using LinkedIn as a means to search for employment.


New research (Johnson & Leo, 2020) investigated how LinkedIn use over time affects success at obtaining a job. The researchers proposed that LinkedIn use over time could either help or hurt individuals looking to find a job on the platform. On the one hand, LinkedIn use could potentially help job seekers by increasing their job search self-efficacy. Job search self-efficacy, defined as confidence in one’s own ability to conduct a successful job search, could be improved because LinkedIn provides users with instructions on how to build a profile, allows users to network with other professionals, and allows users to develop and highlight their skills to set themselves apart from other candidates. This increase in job seekers’ confidence could be helpful for job search success.

On the other hand, the job search process is generally tiring, with job applicants devoting time and resources to the process. LinkedIn may accentuate how tiring the job search process is over time. LinkedIn provides job seekers with greater access to jobs, professionals, and resources. While these resources may be helpful to some, the large amount of information provided by LinkedIn may be exhausting for some job seekers and potentially contribute to an inability to effectively manage thoughts, emotions, and behavior. This depletion could contribute to poorer job search success.


To test their ideas, the researchers surveyed 1,887 job applicants in the United States over a five-week period. In line with their predictions, results suggest that the more job seekers use LinkedIn, the more likely they will become depleted and tired in their job search efforts. This depletion could contribute negatively to job search success. To confirm their results, the authors surveyed an additional 851 job applicants and found similar results.

However, counter to their expectations, results suggest that more LinkedIn usage was associated with less confidence in the job search process. This finding was perplexing, and the authors offered an alternate explanation for these results. The researchers hypothesized that some LinkedIn users may be comparing themselves to others on the social media platform. The authors argue that when LinkedIn users make an upward comparison (comparing themselves to more successful users) compared to making a downward comparison (comparing themselves to less successful users) job seekers would have greater negative emotions associated with their job search efforts. These negative emotions could contribute to job seekers feeling depleted in their job search efforts.

To test this alternate explanation, 209 participants were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. In two conditions, the researchers created a LinkedIn social media simulation where participants created a profile and used the platform in a way that mirrored the job search process on LinkedIn. In one condition, participants were exposed to an upward comparison in which they saw a fictional student’s profile that was made to be stronger than the average person’s profile. In the downward comparison condition, participants saw a fictional student’s profile that was made to be weaker than the average person’s profile. In the third condition, participants made no comparisons (control condition). Results suggest that when individuals make upward comparisons, they form lower levels of confidence in their job search. However, the authors could not attribute this effect to job seekers feeling depleted.


In all, results from this study suggest that LinkedIn use is associated with greater depletion and lower confidence in job search efforts. To counter these effects, the authors suggest that people using LinkedIn for job searching also participate in programs or activities that help improve their self-views, self-control, willpower, and levels of energy.


Johnson, M. A., & Leo, C. (2020). The inefficacy of LinkedIn? A latent change model and experimental test of using LinkedIn for job search. Journal of Applied Psychology, advance online publication.