HRExaminer v3.45 November 9, 2012
Table of Contents
LinkedIn: Learning Through Progressive Failure
It wasn’t all that long ago that friends of mine were being banned from LinkedIn for promiscuous linking. In those days (four or five years ago) maxing out the 2,500 connection limit was a badge of honor in some schools. The LinkedIn posse hated it and built policies and procedures that punished people for developing large networks of distant connections.
That’s because LinkedIn’s model of itself is the group that founded the thing. That group (sometimes known as the PayPal mafia) is a tightly connected fraternity of allies who have long histories with each other. Their core model of a good network was a tight group who could vouch for each other.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. More importantly, LinkedIn can’t make money that way.
I was surprised to see that the new ceiling is at least 30,000 connections. Glen Cathey, who has one of the earliest incarnations of the new LinkedIn profile brags about the size of his massive network. It wasn’t that long ago that LinkedIn was wrecking careers by suspending the accounts of people who dared to exceed the 2,500 connection limit.
(While that’s how they operate over at LinkedIn HQ, that’s the subject of a separate piece on why LinkedIn can’t build an ecosystem)
So, what’s changed?
It turns out that the people you know and love can’t really help you with your career. If you’re laid off, they’re laid off. If your job sucks, theirs does too. Your up close and personal network is riding the exact same economic wave as you are. The lot of you might help each other stay afloat but that ‘s about it.
It turns out, like the early promiscuous recruiters knew, that the power of your network comes from the people you only barely know. Because their distance from you can be geographical and professional, they are plugged into other views and ecosystems. Opportunity does not spread evenly across the economy. Rather, it gathers in clumps. If you’re clump isn’t getting the opportunity flow, you need to be able to reach out to people you don’t know very well.
You close and personals can continue to vouch for you but they are subject to the standard disclaimer. Of course you can get recommendations from your friends. So what.
This is the strength of the new LinkedIn endorsement system. One’s reputation spreads much further than the old group of college chums. In this day and age, what matters is who knows you. Endorsements provide a validation spot for people who are not close in but understand your reputation and value none the less.
(Stop by my profile and endorse me for something)
LinkedIn is reshaping itself in a pivot that isn’t required by stock market performance. Instead, this is the move of a mature operation that is ready to jettison ideas that don’t work. As a user, the challenge is to figure out which version of the LinkedIn rhetoric you’re plugged into. While they’re really good at pivoting, they are less good at keeping their users up to date on the current thinking about what works.
LinkedIn: How Not To Build An Ecosystem
The other day, I had a long conversation with a reporter from a Boston newspaper. We talked about Monster and its current struggles. We talked about the ups and downs of the job board industry.
Increasingly, the drumbeat about the viability of job boards is escalating. Anecdotally,
- 80% of all hires are active candidates
- 70% of the candidates hired through proactive research can be found through Monster
- 65% of employees hired through 3rd party agencies can be found on Monster
Five LinkedIn Links
LinkedIn are on a tear. The stock price is propping up the notion that Silicon Valley IPOs are still a good idea. The company is releasing a torrent of new features and functionality. It’s hard to find a coherent critique in the flow of commentary.
Here’s a set of links that recap the LinkedIn related changes in the HR ecosystem.
- Meet the New LinkedIn Profile: A Better Way to Connect and Build Relationships
This was the moment that LinkedIn fully embraced the social networking as traffic destination model. Without robust traffic and lots of interaction among members, LinkedIn’s revenue stream would remain completely tied to data. The profile improvements are the gateway to the LinkedIn advertising revenue stream. The new profile encourages a narrative approach to the presentation of career data.
- The 2012 State of Volunteer Recruitment Address
Shari Ilsen from Volunteer Match highlights the fact that Interest now has more traffic than LinkedIn. This short piece focuses on visual recruiting using Interest, Integrate, and You Tube. See also The Visual Recruiting Superiority Effect
- To the LinkedIn trainers, coaches and book writers …
The Recruiting unconference impresario, Bill Boorman weighs in on LinkedIn astonishing rate of change in recent months. “I can’t remember a time when LinkedIn has changed more significantly, and at such speed, largely without prior warning. The market respects our thought leaders and trainers, please stop for breath, give it time to shake out and start advising us again over issues like keywords or not. You will have our eternal gratitude if you can figure it out, and hold off the training in instruction until we have answers to the questions.”
- Ranking the 100 Most InDemand Employers Using LinkedIn Data
This infographic from LinkedIn shows off their new stream of information products. This one is shaped by the same kind of analytics that drive the new LinkedIn Talent Brand Index. The tools would be more interesting if they measured something other than the universe as experienced within LinkedIn.
- The Biggest Threat To LinkedIn: The Power Of Many, Not One
Today, there are a number of signs indicating that our most-valued professional networking is beginning to happen elsewhere, on a growing roster of sites not named LinkedIn. This TechCrunch article cites Jon Bischke of Entello and Natasha Lomas (of Tech Crunch) in support of the view that a monolithic professional networking site is unlikely to succeed in the long haul. Real social networking is both professional and regional. See also this piece on The Future of Recruiting which lobbies for a compensation offer as the solution to in baskets full of InMail spam.
- Here’s LinkedIn’s Biggest Revenue Problem
Hint, they are particularly stuck in the US.
I got a Linkedin invite a couple days ago from someone I’m pretty close to. I was surprised. She was my “friend” and “tweep,” but not a “connection” on Linkedin. So I set out to see who else fit that category. I uploaded my email contacts and checked the Linkedin suggestions based on second and third degree connections.
There were hundreds of people I didn’t know, could not care less about, or had no idea why I had emailed them.
There were over 40 people I know and regularly interact with, but who weren’t Linkedin connections. The group also included a handful of the members of the HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board, with whom I really do interact professionally.
Most were people I know in real life, and have regular contact with. I know what they do, what they like, and about their kids and pets. I consider them friends. I would do them a favor in a heartbeat. I might even ask them for help. (I’m kind of bad at that last bit.)
The recruiters and HR pros were appalled that we weren’t connected on Linkedin. One friend wrote a note on my Facebook wall asking, “How in hell were we not already connected on Linkedin??” Another commented on that post, “Seriously?” But when I checked, I wasn’t connected to her either.
Many sent me notes with apologies. It seemed like they felt they had violated some social media commandment, or were afraid the all knowing Recruiter-Force would take away their special powers. (Maybe it was just fear of coal in their stockings. That whole “sees you when you’re sleeping, knows when you’re awake” thing has always creeped me out.)
The simple truth is, they are my friends. We connect on Facebook and in life, not on Linkedin.
I don’t think I’m the only one who is like this. I expect there are many people who have lots of personal relationships that have nothing to do with work or Linkedin. This is not a problem for any of us, because we know how to find each other and ask for help if we’re looking for a job or to hire someone.
It is a problem for Linkedin because its database depends on knowing the true relationships between people. And if actual friendships are not reflected on Linkedin, then the effectiveness of the site is limited, and the “connections” are hypothetical at best.
I may be an outlier. I don’t know. Are you connected to all your friends on Linkedin?
Meanwhile, I’ve updated my connections, including dropping a few. I probably won’t be back to Linkedin anytime soon, because it just suggested I connect with my ex. No thank you, I’ve had enough.
Besides, I rather have friends than connections any day.