We have created a monster.
The grand idea of LinkedIn from creator Reid Hoffman was to create a business-oriented social networking service. His business is based on the mantra of managing your career through relentless networking.
In the beginning, that’s what it was: a tool to connect with colleagues and individuals that share the same industry, experience and qualifications. In the past few years, it has grown into something else… something becoming more and more common as social networking sites continue to pop up.
“Keep it Professional” is a common tag associated with LI, but recently there has been a shift in what we see on our news feeds. People have started to stray from strictly professional to political opinions, social stances, and, even worse, a platform to ‘meet people’. I heard a conversation on the radio station, WAAF 107.3, this morning about people using LinkedIn to find a date. People post the most attractive and professional pictures of themselves to attract jobs (yes, they do!), and seem approachable and reliable. Apparently to some, this is an invitation for connection requests and personal messages centered on coffee dates and meetups that do not involve anything remotely close to professional networking. Are we surprised? Maybe one thinks they’ll find more independent and mature people on LinkedIn. Social networks are cyclical. MySpace was the big thing until Facebook really hit the mainstream. Then Facebook really went mainstream and Instagram and Twitter took off. The more common a social site is, the less cool it becomes.
Now enter the Recruiters! If LinkedIn ever had a chance, it was lost when LinkedIn Recruiter popped up. It was the best thing we could have asked for! We didn’t have to wait for an accepted connection request, we could shoot off a message anyway. For the poor souls that work in the tech industry or in sales, receiving daily inmails from recruiters is as common as your morning cup of coffee. It was the best thing we could ask for – a LI profile (usually) holds the same information as a resume, and sometimes more personal details. The site has become so saturated with the recruiting aspect, that most members are now choosing to ignore the common inmail.
So what’s next? The purchase of Lynda, a platform that provides online courses, will give people the opportunity to become ‘better candidates’ for the jobs they want. Is this true? Will specific online courses really make that big a difference? And of course, the acquisition of Connectifier. For those of us who were lucky enough to use Connectifier before the huge take-off, the ease and accuracy of its information was fantastic. No more inmails, you could reach out directly to candidates through their personal or work email. It was the second coming to recruiting! Now with this acquisition, what happens? Will this bring LinkedIn back into the fold, or will it continue to struggle? I think most people in the recruiting field would have liked to see it stand alone and act as its own extension to social sites, but that’s not money talking.