Have you ever wished that you could Instant Message a candidate immediately after finding them on LinkedIn? That might be an improvement over the InMail, right? What if you could send a calendar invitation, schedule an interview or even do a quick Skype video chat? What if all of these activities were logged into LinkedIn and integrated? This just scratches the surface but, in my opinion, all of the above could be available in the near future.
Unless you have been on an extended vacation or are living under a rock, you heard on Monday, that Microsoft announced its intent to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion dollars. You have probably seen or heard the news but are really wondering what will this mean to you as a recruiter. What could the future hold for the LinkedIn product? Who knows, but I will take a few moments to put together my personal wish list.
I have said for years that LinkedIn’s business model is brilliant. There is a simple and intuitive search coupled with the ability to reach out to the target prospect via their proprietary system. LinkedIn’s value is in its ability to keep the industry intelligence and knowledge up to date by the profile holder themselves. Email addresses are hidden and even the most tenured recruiter has probably not thought to themselves “Hmmmm….I’ve never received a bounce back message from LinkedIn.” LinkedIn keeps the email addresses secure, secret and up-to-date by the individuals themselves.
Why did Microsoft pay so much for LinkedIn and how might it fit into their strategy? I am not an industry strategist and I’m just a recruiter, all of these opinions are my own. I tend to be known as a technology guy, an ATS, and CRM subject matter expert and also a person that sees trends in the industry. If I were able to write the screenplay on how this LinkedIn meets Microsoft movie might be made, here are some of the storylines that I might focus on.
Is it a CRM play? (Many see this as a Microsoft Dynamics play…)
A few years ago, I had the unique opportunity to help advise and be a beta customer on a new version of the LinkedIn Recruiter product; they were adding some basic CRM capabilities into their tool like tags. Additional CRM capabilities remain one of the top areas that recruiters want and need in their day-to-day job on LinkedIn. There are many CRMs available today in the industry, but most lack the ability to integrate seamlessly with LinkedIn.
You may or may not know that Microsoft has their own CRM called Microsoft Dynamics. Imagine this new relationship between LinkedIn and Microsoft could enable a seamless integration between the two systems. I’m not sure about all of the data privacy issues that might come with this, but imagine if Microsoft Dynamics could be populated with some portions of LinkedIn data. Similar to the salesforce.com and data.com relationship, I could envision an opportunity for a price for importing profiles into the CRM. This connectivity really could be a huge play for not only the recruiting market but also the sales and marketing areas.
Another opportunity for a huge win is calendar integration. If you are a recruiter and a LinkedIn user (yes – that must be a huge part of the recruiting industry that uses LinkedIn), then you are aware of the need for increased calendar capabilities using LinkedIn. A recruiter is all about setting appointments, the initial pre-screen interview, the face to face interview, etc. At the present time, LinkedIn does not possess any calendar capabilities other than reminders and tasks. With Office and Outlook 365, there might be the capability for cloud-based calendarization and scheduling.
Some of us techies use various scheduling tools like ScheduleOnce or TimeTrade, but I do see the opportunity for LinkedIn to open up this connectivity. More or less, the concept is that you are providing a prospect a view of your available blocks of time on your calendar and allowing you to have that individual schedule themselves on your calendar. Imagine being able to include a link to your Outlook calendar via a LinkedIn InMail message. Some of this functionality is available today via bolt-on and workarounds but it is not recorded automatically in LinkedIn or your CRM as a task.
You had me at Hello…
The Skype play is monstrous. As you likely know, Microsoft bought Skype in 2011 and has been expanding its functionality and use within Outlook. Imagine being able to do secure one to one voice or video outreach, chat and virtual face to face interviews. To me, this is one of the major storylines that not too many people realize would be a huge benefit to them. What if you had the ability to do video interviewing through a tool that could potentially be linked on the back end into a CRM? How cool would that be? Imagine every LinkedIn user now becoming a private Skype user. Would you really need a candidate’s email, if you could connect or contact them on Skype?
Active Directory enabled Corporate intelligence and Human Capital Management
One of the large benefits that Microsoft has is an active directory. This for corporations is a no-brainer.
Corporate Intelligence and Insights
For anyone on Outlook, you know that the corporate hierarchy is available within the Microsoft Active Directory system. You have the ability to look up internal colleagues, where they are located and their contact information. You also can see what departments they are in and who they report to.
Here’s where it gets interesting – imagine if you were to layer on LinkedIn data! Suddenly you have a searchable and auto-populated internal corporate org chart! This could be complete with titles, skills, profiles, and groups. Now here is where another interesting conversation could occur. Would you only allow that information to be visible internally or would you also allow that information to be shared externally?
Some other potential advantages of Active Directory:
- Ability to eliminate FAKE profiles on LinkedIn if there was authentication
- Ability to know who are contractors and full-time employees on LinkedIn
- The possibility of having LinkedIn InMail became an email system that you could administer on your iPhone like Gmail?
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If you have used LinkedIn Recruiter, you are likely aware of the Search Insights capability. I have a feeling that Microsoft will work to leverage LinkedIn’s strategic insights about the industry and the marketplace.
Talent Mapping and Human Capital Management
This is the one area where I see the LinkedIn and Microsoft partnership being the most interesting. The future of this area is an empty canvas.
- With a little effort, LinkedIn and Microsoft might be able to link Microsoft companies with their Active Directory accounts and map out entire corporations based on their Outlook email addresses. Org Charts, skills, etc. Imagine having a button to populate your Outlook company profile from LinkedIn or vice versa. Now imagine if your internal company profile WAS your LinkedIn profile. Your HR department and senior leadership could now have more solid RECRUITING and TALENT intelligence about SKILLS than most any system out there. Why? Because LinkedIn is a social network that the END USERS keep up to date. Between the company’s Cloud or Active Directory hierarchy, Senior Management can have a map of where the talent lies.
- Another incredible thing could be if you had single sign-on and could blend in your company’s HR data, time in role, career growth or succession planning.
- Internal Social Networks / Groups – Imagine if you could you set up an INTRANET type version of LinkedIn that is your go-to tool for searching INTERNAL talent?
Human Capital Management
- LinkedIn has the potential of being a Corporate Talent Management leader or a large consulting firm’s dream system. I used to work in the consulting industry and one of the big challenges was internal talent deployment. In consulting, our sales team would be close to signing a new deal and we would not know if we had enough rotating talent with the correct skill set to fill the upcoming roles. Therefore, our Talent Acquisition team had to start the recruiting process and hire in advance of need. Imagine if you could take an INTRANET version of LinkedIn and turn it into a Talent deployment system. Understanding and being able to search your internal knowledge and skills…might be interesting, right?
One very interesting and final thought: LinkedIn could keep its current model of email ownership. By leveraging Microsoft Cloud, LinkedIn now has access to messaging individuals in many new ways without ever revealing an email address. This could be very important to you as a recruiter because you might have access to new ways of engaging candidates.