LinkedIn Is Not a Job Board

In the recent months, LinkedIn has made deliberate efforts to move more toward a recruitment direction as part of their IPO strategy. Last month, LinkedIn announced that it had just reached a big milestone of crossing over 100 million members worldwide. On the eve of this occasion, I thought of putting my thoughts around my all-time favorite topic.

The phenomenon called LinkedIn started in way back 2003 with aim of becoming a networking platform for professional purposes. It provided a great place for professionals to register, find themselves, connect, share, discuss, and form a community based on their professional interests. It started with a basic principle of degrees of connection. You would only get access through the 3rd level of connection through referral forwarding OR if you share similar interest group. The idea was to keep networking clean! These professionals’ bios/profiles became an important tool with which to connect and know one another. This utility provided recruiters/sourcers to search and target these professionals as passive candidates.

This was all okay until LinkedIn realized a great business value in this proposition. In March 2008 they introduced LinkedIn Recruiter, which allowed corporate recruiting professionals access to their entire database with a paid login. This was a natural step for LinkedIn to grow and establish a sustainable business model for itself. Additionally the preceding five or so years gave them good visibility with which to create an enhanced, unique, and powerful database of professionals at their disposal. In all these years it was relatively difficult to contact people found on LinkedIn unless you had contact information OR help from your own network. This helped recruiters gain a competitive advantage by getting additional candidates whom not many recruiters would have access to.

Today, the story is different. Many companies have either purchased one of LinkedIn’s recruiting solutions or have figured out other ways to contact people. We have started to hear LinkedIn’s name in a same league of Monster, Dice, and CareerBuilder. That means we are considering it as a JOB BOARD.

WAKE UP – LINKEDIN IS NOT A JOB BOARD

Within recruiting circles, LinkedIn is becoming more widely accepted and viewed as a job portal to post ads, search ALL candidates, and so forth. With a paid account you can now connect to anyone on LinkedIn regardless of degrees of connection. Principally speaking, it defeats the purpose of LinkedIn usage. People register and use LinkedIn to connect with others who share same business, technology, interest areas, innovation, and so forth. Yes, I do hear glorious stories about how people get jobs by getting a LinkedIn account. Newsflash: If you want to get a job, use job portals. Why would you not get attention from the same company by putting your profile on a job board? Is not that a logical choice? Is that a reason for which people and companies are using LinkedIn?

Please don’t get me wrong – I love LinkedIn. It is one of the best tools in a recruiter’s/sourcer’s armory. However I do have a problem with the mindset in which recruiters are using it (I call it the Job Board Syndrome). Beware! Your audience is here for a very different purpose.

Here are a few thoughts on why I believe LinkedIn should not be use as a job board:

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  • People use LinkedIn to add more value in their own professional experience. If you start InMailing (mass mailing) them as you might on a job board, slowly but surely they will shy away from this medium. We will kill this great tool by ourselves.
  • Recruiters have lost their competitive advantage with using LinkedIn in recent years. I do not know a good recruiter who does not have a big network in LinkedIn. And with a paid account, it is super-easy to contact anyone on LinkedIn. Well, your competitors are doing exactly same.
  • Not everyone on LinkedIn wants your job opportunity. If you practice “post-and-pray Inbox recruiting,” that is, posting loads of jobs in groups, discussion forums, status and mailing them to your network hoping for fantastic results, wake up! This is not a job board. Your audience is not all looking for people to hire them. Many are there for very different reasons.
  • Remember once again – people are not necessarily here to showcase their prior employers, job skills, and total number of years they have worked. In short, many simply do not have their listed. If your search strings are similar to your job board searches, you are most likely getting just a fraction (less than 10%) of the results you would get on a job board. Most of the profiles in LinkedIn are Dark Matter. With your “job board recruiter” mindset you will not touch these people. In short you are losing competitive advantage.
  • The way you approach LinkedIn people should be very different. It is not, “Hi, I have a great opening in Mumbai for a Java Developer, would you be interested?” Do not think that people will respond with, “Yes, this is my resume. Tell me when I can appear for an interview,” with that kind of an approach. You have to have a good reason for your target to be interested in your message. It’s give and take! Do you have a great story or something unique to giveaway? You have to convert your target from passive to active by using good content and communication.
  • Mass InMailing, posting, and advertising without any strategy will not give a good brand to your company on LinkedIn. Would you like to consider yourself as a job-spammer?

Just because LinkedIn is becoming more widely viewed as a job board does not mean we have to use it as such. It is our diligent and smart thinking as recruiters and sourcers that will make a difference.

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform for professionals to come together and explore vast information, share ideas, and build relationships. As recruiting professionals, we should follow the same protocol. Just because you have paid extra money does not mean you should completely abuse a great information resource. Information has great power only when you use it in an appropriate way.

Hence, next time when you use LinkedIn – whether you have a free account or a premium one – remember, not everyone is on LinkedIn to find a job. Though on the outset, people may view LinkedIn as a job board, it is your call to use it in the best interest of your audience and yourself.

Think!

Sarang Brahme has been in sourcing for the last seven years. He began with job board sourcing and networking and gradually found his way into the magical world of sourcing. He has enjoyed wearing different hats, including sourcer, recruiter, team lead, client servicing manager, pre-sales, executive hiring and social media / training – but beneath all that, sourcing is what makes him happy. Currently, Brahme is part of Sourcing COE at Capgemini India and leads Social Media and Sourcing Training. He is a firm believer in the recruitment sourcing concept and always thinks that sourcing as a function has immense power to change the way recruiters recruit.

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24 Comments on “LinkedIn Is Not a Job Board

  1. Sarang, you can advise against it not being used as a job board but the fact of the matter – it IS being used as a job board and that is what will contribute to its eventual demise.

    I laugh when I look back at all the high-minded blow about LinkedIn being a connection network for professionals.

    Even Reid Hoffman recently admitted to early plans to direct its course towards recruitment. It was in some article recently where he was talking about the early days and I’ve tried to find it for you but don’t feel like contributing anymore of my time to their cause.

    They’ll do an IPO, take the cash and get out before the thing tanks.

    You can’t push a river.

    You’ll wear yourself out trying.

  2. Sarang,

    I agree with you – it isn’t a job board, and doesn’t work well as one. Honestly, to do what a big job board does – create a searchable database of candidates and a platform for publishing job postings – LinkedIn is not built properly for that. It is wrong in most every way for that type of usage.

    What it IS good for is what it is said to be – networking and sharing knowledge in your peer groups, and to reach out into and learn about others. I have primarily used it to learn about and from other recruiters, for instance.

    However, I have also used it to great effect as a source of information about companies, professions, and even individual people. Perhaps not to recruit candidates directly, but to see who knows who, to see the interests and focus of groups of people similar to those I am trying to recruit, etc. For that purpose it is a very useful tool.

    -Dave

  3. My personal thoughts on this are that it is what you make of it. Having spoken a couple days ago with a recent job hunter, it would seem that a great deal of recruiters only have simple profiles on LinkedIn and do not readily advertise jobs here. He told me that of all his recruiting connections, he only noticed three that were regularly updating their status with job opportunities — and by regularly, he meant maybe once a month. Though based on some of the strategic moves that LinkedIn has been making lately, it would seem that this is direction in which they are quickly moving.

  4. I’ve been using LinkedIn Recruiter (the non-free version) as a job board for the past year and it has performed exceptionally well, even surpassing Monster. I don’t spam. When I search I don’t toss in a few search terms and sort through random results. I write very tight and specific Boolean search strings that regularly exceed 500 characters. The result is that I am sending Inmails to candidates who are qualified for the positions for which I’m recruiting. Obviously not all respond, but at the same time, because I’m not sending Inmails to candidates who are not even remotely qualified, I have consistently maintained a five star response rating from those who receive my Inmails. Ten years ago I wrote a Boolean Tutorial that although now very dated, it provides some good tips that are still valid today. You can easily find it by Googling ‘john childs boolean’. Happy hunting! John Childs

    1.  John,

      Great post!  I have a question.  Assuming that you Inmail 100 candidates
      that are qualified based on your boolean search strings for a
      particular position,  and assume that 20 respond, how can you
      differentiate between the quality of these 20 candidates? 

      I guess that the simple answer is that you base it on your experience
      and judgment, but only 10% of the bad hires happen because of the lack
      of technical/functional skills – the rest of the 90% happen because of
      other items that are hard to define and practically and reliable measure – soft skills, personality, and abilities.

      We are building a tool that measures each passive/active candidate that is qualified for a position on these hard to define/measure items that are the cause of 90% of bad hires

      How useful would such a tool be for you as a recruiter if it able to differentiate between the quality of these 20 candidates that are qualified for the job?

      Sunil

  5. You said this: “Newsflash: If you want to get a job, use job portals. Why would you not get attention from the same company by putting your profile on a job board? Is not that a logical choice?”

    From talking to job-seekers, two reasons they would be reluctant to use the job boards.

    One: they use LinkedIn and not the boards because they feel uncomfortable risking their employer finding out they’re looking for a job. While LinkedIn indeed is used similarly, it doesn’t have the same risk, I guess, in some people’s minds.

    Two: there’s the unfortunate bias many employers have against “active” candidates; so, some job-seekers feel that using using LinkedIn makes them look more passive, and thus more desirable.

  6. This sounds like a bit of a rant to me. LinkedIn is whatever you want it to be. If you’re a job seeker it’s a job board, if you’re a recruiter, it’s a candidate database, if you’re someone who wants to network with others in your industry then it’s a great tool for that. Trying to tell other people what LinkedIn should or shouldn’t be used for is awfully pompous and arrogant.

  7. Hi Sarang,

    Nice article. My only problem with it is that I hear the problem but not the solution. So, what other tools do you advise recruiters/resourcers to use? What is your method for attracting the talents that you want?

  8. You make some great points and I use LI in many ways.
    I don’t have the same fears you do about it shying people away. LI has a reputation as a recruiting tool already, so some people choose not to participate.

    Any forum needs balance and LI is the same. Thanks for giving us all a good reminder.

  9. I mostly agree with your post, however you are addressing the wrong people… In this world you can not expect all users to play fair when they have such a huge database at hand. They will use it to sell, promote, recruit and even spam other users of interest. I also get annoyed when I see fake profiles, and unknown people ask me to recommend them, so I do understand. Your spammers and unprofessional recruiters will probably be too busy to read your post however.
    It is LI’s job to keep that fine balance and not turn the whole thing into a job board, and of course there are some challenges. If you look at it, they are constantly developing the interface to make sure it preserves it’s value.

  10. Thanks for all positive, negative reactions. My intention to write this is to see how we are looking at LinkedIn for recruitment. LinkedIn is definitely a very good tool for recruitment (one of the best).. we just need to see out our approach and mindset. I know best of recruiters use it very diligently and not like job boards.

    I know very well that I can’t dictate how people should use LinkedIn and how LI should propose their business plans… these views represent how a recruiter thinks of LinkedIn from long term.

    It’s a golden nugget and needs a right approach to get best out of it.

    I’m glad recruiters spoken out…

  11. Great points about the shrinking competitive advantage of LinkedIn. Separating yourself with a well established network mean little anymore. In my daily banter with sourcing and recruiting pros, LinkedIn is often discussed. I encourage its use but caution throwing all eggs into one basket. LinkedIn is a tool and should a part of a much larger belt.

  12. You can post a job on LinkedIn and candidates can search jobs on LinkedIn. But it’s not a job board? That’s marketing double-talk and some people fall for it. Of course, LinkedIn is other things besides a job board and Facebook is more than a social network. But LinkedIn IS, absolutely, among other things, a job board. Still, the real issue (in the recruiting world) is: does it make recruitment better? In some ways, yes it does since it collects a lot of great candidates in one place. But since it doesn’t give us anything more than the resume we still haven’t got what we need: better predictors of performance. Any job is about performance. Solutions that get that right get by far better recruiting results. By far. LinkedIn isn’t among them. At least not yet.

  13. There is an even faster and almost free way to source exceptional passive talent. Identify a company first. Next, use a tool that is so powerful it can actually change your career and your life: the telephone.

  14. Linkedin is a job board. point. If you have 100 million profiles and the option to post jobs there (and get the new referral engine for jobs) there is no denying it is a job board.

    I do agree that recruiters need to understand that not everybody is interested in a job. Some are there to purely network and we as recruiters need to be careful in how we communicate with them. If we start annoying people too much with irrelevant jobs they will shy away from LI

  15. hmmmmm.

    LinkedIn offer recruiter solution accounts for profile searching and job posting, so it’s easy to see why recruiters therefore consider LinkedIn to be much like a job board / recruitment tool. It’s not necessarily the fault of recruiters who are new to LinkedIn, but poor education on behalf of LinkedIn to its business customers (recruiters) and for providing recruitment solutions to mine their database. It’s not recruiters that are changing the original networking model of LinkedIn they are just doing their job. Its LinkedIn who had the power to change how its platform is used.

  16. Linkedin is widely accepted as a way to passively network with colleagues, peers, and people of influence. Your boss won’t be suspicious if you create or update a profile. There is no doubt about its effectiveness across many circles.

    However, you have to call a fact a fact. Linkedin charges companies to post jobs on their site. In addition, you will see something interesting if you search for a job title under the people section. The top of the results page will say: “Looking for a Systems Engineer. Post Your Job on Linkedin”. That sounds like a job board to me.

    I know that Linkedin does not want to be considered a job board. I called them one in my blog, and got quite the negative reaction. I think they are more than a job board for sure. Just know that every recruiter around downloads your Linkedin profile into their database. Also know that Linkedin charges companies to post jobs. Finally, Linkedin charges people to have deeper access to profiles. That is similar to job boards that charge for resume access. Those are the simple facts.

    That said, I believe Linkedin is and can be a whole lot more. They just have to make money. That leads companies to make decisions that can steer them away from the intended mission.

  17. Your assessment with the way and/or mindset in which recruiters are using LinkedIn incorrectly is spot on, however the genesis for this issue is not the fault of recruiters but rather the misalignment of LinkedIn’s business goals with their users’ goals.

    Though the argument for LinkedIn becoming a job board is arbitrary it certainly holds some validity (e.g., the establishment of LinkedIn Recruiter, personal users being able to sign-up for premium accounts so that their profiles will rank higher in companies/recruiters search results, etc.). Their goals have shifted from building a professional networking platform – what made them successful in the first place – to a focus on monetizing that network (i.e., show financial growth and success as part of their IPO strategy). While they’re on track to successfully IPO it’s their loss of focus on the customer – their goals, needs, wants, etc. – that will incrementally reduce engagement, and continue to increase the confusion and disconnect between usage patterns for recruiters and professionals.

  18. Interesting article, however it has some flaws. The first being that if a profile suggests it is ‘open to new opportunities’, then they really can’t complain about being contacted for new opportunities. Secondly the vast majority of profiles in LinkedIn are passive job seekers, not actively looking for work. My clients tell me time and time again that they are tired of seeing the same regurgitated CVs that are on the majority of job boards. The best candidates (broadly speaking) are already in a job and head hunted out rather than called up by multiple recruiters on a job board, often for the same position. So, LinkedIn will remain a preference for me over job boards in terms of my search.

  19. your post sounds great.Yup,Linkedin is one of the Social Media that is widely accepted by business professionals world wide to promote their business online.Linkedin postings is one the off page SEO techniques SEO Company India to increase inbound links to the website.It helps in having worldwide business connections where business finds audience to look over the products and services being offered.I agree with your words that the approach to Linkedin needs to be different.Thank you for sharing creative information.

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  20. I have noticed that LinkedIn really has become just an candidate profile application. I get very little useful information from my network. 90% of the updates on my home page are recruiters posting jobs. 99% of the jobs are unrelated to me. I honestly do wish recruiters would stop the postings and just contact candidates directly. I only go on the site about twice a month now because of this.

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