LinkedIn Is Not a Job Board

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Apr 13, 2011

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.


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:

  • 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.


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