I have read a couple of blog posts about LinkedIn recently. “Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?” is criticizing LinkedIn for charging job seekers to appear “at the top of the list” when applying for a job. “LinkedIn Spam (?) and Recruiters: A Guide for Geeks” has some good advice on how to interact with recruiters on LinkedIn. These among others made me ponder the question: Is LinkedIn good or bad? (and Betteridge’s law notwithstanding, the answer is not “No”). Here is my take:
Recruiters. Plenty of times, I have received messages from recruiters asking if I am interested in an “amazing opportunity”. Even if I am happy at my current job, I am always a little bit curious. You never know whether it is a great job or not. But before I can say if I am even remotely interested, I need to know some details. “OK, please send us your CV”. What? LinkedIn is my CV, you have already seen it. Next, they want to schedule a phone call. Why? Just mail me the details. If I agree to talk to them, they will act as if I contacted them, and they are now “helping me with my career” by jumping into interview mode. No, I don’t need your help. Just tell me about the “amazing opportunity”, and I will say if I am interested or not. If I am, we can take the next step.
Double-dipping. I am fine with LinkedIn charging employers for job advertisements on LinkedIn. But charging applicants to appear “at the top of the list” when applying for a job just doesn’t make sense. Either it changes which applicants the hiring company sees (bad), or it doesn’t, in which case the applicants money was wasted (equally bad). If all it does is change the sort order of the applicants, you have to ask yourself what was gained (especially since the companies must be aware of this practice). You also look really desperate if you pay for such a tiny advantage. I want to be at the top of the list because of my qualifications, not because I paid money to be there. This seems like a short-term way of increasing profits, which in the long-term only serves to erode the trust in the LinkedIn job market.
Endorsements. The LinkedIn endorsements just seem so fake and un-trustworthy to me. No doubt many endorsements are legitimate and true, but there are too many where person A endorses person B, and person B endorses person A back, which unfortunately makes me view them all with suspicion. If I want an opinion of somebody, I will e-mail or call the persons that can give me the opinions. The public LinkedIn endorsements have become so over-used and watered-down that I never trust them at face value.
Job seeker badge. This just makes you seem desperate to find a job, and it lowers your bargaining position when you find something. Look for a new job will you’re still in your old job. No need to pay for a badge that will only make you look desperate.
Connecting with random people. Some people just seem to want to connect with as many people as possible. What’s the point? The connections you have with people you know just get lost in the noise. My policy is to only connect with people I already know.
Address book. LinkedIn serves as my address book for my professional contacts. All in one place, always up to date, since people are good at updating their contact information. Whenever I want to contact an old colleague, I just look them up on LinkedIn, and get their contact information there. Very convenient.
Status updates. It lets me see when people I know change jobs. It’s nice to know where people are currently working.
Job ads. Whenever I check LinkedIn, there are a couple of job ads displayed to the right. For the most part, they are highly relevant for me. Many times, they advertise jobs at companies in my area that I didn’t know about. If the company looks interesting, I will add it to my list of potential companies to work at. Even if I am not looking for a new job at the moment, you never know when it will be needed. Keeping a list makes the task easier, and seeing new interesting companies via the LinkedIn job ads makes adding to the list painless. Stack Overflow also provides relevant job ads, but so far LinkedIn has an edge in my mind.
Researching people and companies. If I am interested in a company (perhaps one I saw in a job ad), I always look it up on LinkedIn. If it is a company I would consider working at (software development in Stockholm), there are almost always several people working there that I am linked to via LinkedIn. Looking at the profiles of the people working there, I can get a bit of a picture of what the company is like. Where did they study, where did they work before, what skills do they have etc. For example, five years ago, when I was applying for my current job at Symsoft, I found out that I had actually worked with two people there. Very useful information.
Recruiters. Just as there are bad recruiters on LinkedIn, there are good recruiters. A good sign is that they have done their research, and I would actually be a good fit for the job they are looking to fill. So without having to do any work, I get presented with other opportunities once in a while. Even if I am not interested at the moment, it can be good in the future.
I use LinkedIn quite a bit (checking updates at least once a day). I don’t get contacted by bad recruiters that often, and the rest of the bad points listed above are easy to avoid. So the positive aspects make it fairly easy to conclude that for me, Linked in is still good. Feel free to check out my LinkedIn profile. Just don’t contact me about any “amazing opportunities” – I have already had my fill of those.