Stop the Madness!

Okay Okay, I get it. LinkedIn changed its agreement, and everyone is in full on panic mode. Heck, some people are even saying no more using tools or extensions at all. Well first off slow down, take a breath and relax. What did LinkedIn really do? LinkedIn said there are things you can’t do and can do, and tools and extensions that do certain things, certain ways are no-nos.

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First off, there are about 500 million people on LinkedIn. However Facebook has over two billion users, Twitter has over 300 million, and even Google+ has over 500 million (or at least it did). As you can see, there are a lot of social sites nearly as big or even bigger than LinkedIn. Now also remember that many of LinkedIn’s members also have a social presence likely on one of those other sites. Though, according to LinkedIn, a staggering 75% of the U.S. workforce is on LinkedIn. Also, LinkedIn is still indexed by Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other search engines.

So what does all this mean? It means that LinkedIn is making it hard for us to use them and get any real value, given InMails are a waste of time, in my opinion. However, this does not mean you give up entirely on tools or extensions. You simply only use the ones on LinkedIn that are not in violation and use those same ones and others that work on other sites and do other things outside of LinkedIn.

Let’s also remember there was recruiting and sourcing long before LinkedIn and there will be recruiting and sourcing long after LinkedIn. These tools and extensions can help you do things faster and quicker even without LinkedIn. Let’s also remember if you were trained the right way, you could do almost anything these tools and extensions can do without using them; it’s just not as fast. In the end, that is what we are talking about. Will not being able to use a contact finding tool on LinkedIn stop me from finding someone’s contact information that I found on LinkedIn? No, because I know how to do it without the tools, it will just take longer.

I will give you a great example. I decided to do a search for Java Developer in Seattle, who also had Hadoop, JSON, Pig, and some other things, that got me a result of exactly one hundred potential candidates. I wrote down all 100 names, companies and titles. I then signed out of LinkedIn. I then used some tools to do the same search. I again made sure I only had one hundred people and then compared the results. Now let’s remember I was not signed into LinkedIn. I then compared the results, and there was an 88% redundancy. Meaning I found 88 of the same 100 LinkedIn found. I then decided to see if I could find the 12 that LinkedIn found without using LinkedIn and I did. Now remember I was not signed into LinkedIn, and I not only found them all but with excellent contact information. Now I am also not saying this will always be true. I am sure some candidates can only be found on LinkedIn, I am betting it is less than 10%. That said I also know there are some people you can’t find on LinkedIn but can in other places. Like I said earlier LinkedIn only has 500 million people or so, Facebook has four times that. So there are a lot of people out there not on LinkedIn, believe it or not.

Let’s also remember one other thing, only 52% of the people using LinkedIn do so at least once a week (see graph below from Pew). Compare that to Facebook which is 91%, Twitter which is 59%, Instagram which is 74%, and even Pinterest which is 55%.

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The point of the exercise was that you can find still find people without LinkedIn. Now I am not saying LinkedIn is not a good tool, I mean it found the one hundred candidates faster than the method without LiinkedIn. That said I had contact information with the ones without LinkedIn profiles. All I am saying is, just because LinkedIn is making it harder to use these tools and extensions that make your life and job easier does not mean you stop using them. You just use these tools in other ways, which do not violate LinekdIn’s User Agreement.

I’m not saying avoid LinkedIn; it’s just not our only option. Just because LinkedIn does not want you to use certain tools to make your job easier does not mean you stop using tools altogether. It just means you only use the tools that do not violate LinekdIn’s User Agreement.

LinkedIn was reached for a comment about the recent changes to its User Agreement. According to LinkedIn: “LinkedIn is committed to keeping its members’ data safe and secure. LinkedIn’s User Agreement continues to prohibit the use of software–including crawlers, bots, browser plug-ins, and browser extensions–that scrapes or copies member data, or that automates activity on LinkedIn.
Members using such software risk the possibility that it may become non-operational on LinkedIn, or that their accounts may be restricted.  More information on LinkedIn’s prohibition of scraping software can be found here.” 

Dean Da Costa has more than 16 years of staffing/recruiting experience in Fortune 100 companies. He was recently named the single "most online influential recruiter."

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