In the December 4, 2012 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a writer wonders about “social job hunting” on LinkedIn and Facebook. Is this a good new thing?

LinkedIn has recently expanded its job search functionalities. Facebook is also planning a job portal. What do you think about them? Do you see any value in linking job postings with personal social networks?

Filtering job openings using connections to people instead of keywords might give fresh ideas about where to work. An example of a simple filter: “Find openings where at least one of my contacts is working for that company.” If the search returns something interesting, there’s already an existing personal connection to someone who can help in the next step, which is finding out what the company is doing and whether it is the right one to apply for.

Do you think this topic would be worth an article in your newsletter or in your blog?

Nick’s Reply

First let’s be clear: LinkedIn is now a job board, not a social network. Just read its own home page:

LinkedIn Talent Solutions: Cut your cost per hire in half. Build a great employer brand.

Compare to CareerBuilder:

Job Postings: Gain exposure to the most candidates, enjoy powerful screening tools, and access the best training resources with CareerBuilder’s Job Postings.

Compare to

Power Resume Search: Stop Searching. Start Matching. Find the candidate you’ve been looking for.

It’s the three stooges of job boards. They’re all dopes. Compare the pitches. You’d never tell one from the other except for its name. LinkedIn sold out “relationships” for “jobs” when it launched its button.

These are database companies

I’ve been watching the moves by social sites into the jobs business. While at first glance it seems a natural thing for them to do, I think it’s more expedient than smart. They’re trying to find ways to generate revenue from their databases, and job boards are easy to add to any database model.

What LinkedIn and other social networks are avoiding is what’s far more challenging: adding more and better “social” to their models.

I think it would be more compelling for LinkedIn to use its social network to promote social behaviors that lead to job connections — without turning into yet another keyword-matching business. But it’s not.

I really haven’t seen anything smart come out of LinkedIn’s move. If anything, LinkedIn is now regarded as “the job board companies use.” Stealing Monster’s customers is an accomplishment, but hardly an innovation.

Sidetracked: LinkedIn turns to telemarketing job ads

LinkedIn had great potential to be so much more. Then the company went off on a side track that leads nowhere.

LinkedIn wisely hired some world-class “relationship builders” from top companies and paid them salaries to create a robust social-networking approach to careers. Then LinkedIn suddenly instituted a sales-quota compensation system —  and told them to dial for dollars. A new management team hired telemarketers straight out of a sales boiler room (a job board) and booted the people who might have done something revolutionary. The new crew could be working at TheLadders, selling job postings.

Don’t limit yourself to links

That said, I think there’s tremendous potential here. Your idea of exploiting “links” to pursue jobs is a good one. But what concerns me is the premise: Asking the database for job openings where you know someone.

While it’s one logical avenue to follow, isn’t it incredibly limiting? This use of LinkedIn focuses on the low-hanging fruit — people you already know. In his book, Six Degrees, applied mathematician Duncan Watts shows that the most productive nodes in a network are the ones on the outer edge — in this case, people you haven’t met yet. On LinkedIn, there’s a great tendency to chase down nodes (database results) — and no compelling tools that actually foster new relationships on the edges of networks. (LinkedIn Groups are nice, but big deal. Yahoo! has those, too.)

The Zen of job hunting: Meet the people who do the work

My advice to job hunters is to “go hang out with people who do the work you want to do.” The object is not to link. (That’s too easy.) The object is to have shared experiences, so others can teach and judge you — and lead you to opportunities with others in their circles. You don’t need LinkedIn to do this, but it would have been a brilliant direction for the company.

So, maybe a smarter way to use LinkedIn is a Zen kind of approach. Don’t go searching for jobs through people you already know (your contacts). Go to the groups that are talking about the work you want to do. Go to the work. And meet totally new people. Make sense? Why limit yourself to where your friends work? Go to where you want to work and make new friends — who will get you in the door. This takes a lot more effort and probably more time, but I think you need to be clear about your goal — the work you want. Just don’t expect LinkedIn to help you with this Zen approach; LinkedIn is too busy counting job postings.

LinkedIn: Just another job board

I’d love to see LinkedIn get past “the database” and start thinking about how to foster experiences between its members. But LinkedIn’s myopia is seen clearly on its home page: It defines itself as a job board. Just read this claptrap from the leading “business network”:

Reach top talent with premium access: Find and engage passive candidates with premium search, full profile visibility, and best-in-class pipeline tools.

Gimme a break. LinkedIn is a job board and the world’s biggest resume repository. It can do far better.

As for Facebook’s foray into the job board business, can you spell ZYNGA?

How do you use LinkedIn? Is it just a fancy phonebook or rolodex? (I contend that’s all it is.) If you could take over LinkedIn, how would you change it, to make it a more productive tool for working with others? Join us on the blog with your ideas — or just to slap me around if you disagree.

: :

  1. Exactly, LinkedIn is the great lost phonebook, I use it to find people I’ve lost track of as I changed jobs. I wouldn’t post a resume there (or on any other job board) but I did post enough job history that someone else could find me. This is primarily just a social thing, I don’t expect to find a job there.

    The groups could be a place to hang out and meet people who do whatever work is interesting but I just don’t see that much happening, not the way Usenet newsgroups worked 20 years ago for example.

    I do use the groups to organize volumteer events. As a volunteer I don’t have time to futz around, the groups are easy to use and basically everybody is on LinkedIn so they can just join the group and I don’t have to manage a mailing list.

    The new skills recommedations thing is a fun gsme, kind of like job board Farmville. I somehow know I shouldn’t playing this silly game but who can resist?

  2. “not the way Usenet newsgroups worked 20 years ago for example.”

    Now that’s a pregnant comment, eh, Irish? They had less powerful technology than we do, but maybe more powerful conversation muscles? What does that say about our patience and willingness to contribute to our online societies? Far easier to chuck a cow, click a recommendation and move on… than to hang out and get to know anyone…

  3. I like LinkedIn for keeping in touch with former colleagues and for putting people in contact when one of my “connections” works at a place with an opening that would be perfect for someone else I know.

    That was pretty much the original intent of LinkedIn, I think, and is still the best use of it.

  4. Here’s how I think LinkedIn could facilitate connections that truly lead to a job. Nick, you’ve said before to make connections with people you don’t know yet in the area you want to work for. I agree. But in LinkedIn the only easy way to do this is to join a Group. This is basically a very passive way to join a newsgroup. You have no control over who is in the group or the contents of the group and I’m not even sure a normal user is allowed to create a group himself (maybe he can, but I never found an obvious way to do it).

    Instead, LinkedIn should give the users an option to create a mini “lounge” or space, with real-time chat, about some sort of topic. Let’s say you have an idea for a startup. You create a “lounge” publicizing that you want to make a startup, post up your qualifications (or link to your profile which anyone who joins the lounge can see), and start a discussion topic. As the number of lounges increases, a smart way to search the lounges is included. But basically, a “lounge” is like a small group, no more than 10 or 20 members, of people who want to accomplish *something*. And they can chat real-time, maybe even through video. This way, you can form personal, significant, lasting relationships all within LinkedIn. Because a better way to build relationships is by having a common goal to accomplish something as opposed to just wanting to “connect”.

    The way the “lounges” differ from groups is that while groups are for people with common interests, with only a forum board to post in, a lounge is for people with common *goals*, with real-time tools to make real-time connections. What do you think?

  5. I treat Linkedin as a “professional Facebook”. It is a good place to keep track of people I have worked and studied with, who are where and does what. I keep a good resume and some cover text there.

    However, it is not a substitute for meeting and talking to people in the daily professional life. And of all the the “recruiters” that have called me and found that my “acomplishments are impressive”, only one has ever actually worked to fill a real position.

  6. Nick, thanks for your excellent article shedding well needed light (as usual!) on subjects that many of us take for granted.

    Adding to LinkedIn’s confused goals (identity crisis?), I was rather disappointed when they came up with their “endorsing” option. At first I thought it was a brilliant idea, until I realised that it’s so easy to endorse anything on anyone, in the reasonable hope that they themselves will reciprocate and endorse me in turn!
    Obviously, there’s virtually no value in this option. I now view it as a gimmick.

    At the end of the day, LinkedIn is still missing out on a vital function for any social networking site: helping the users create/improve relationships.

    In this respect, Elisa has pointed the way with her “lounge” concept. I recently decided to use a similar approach to apply content marketing inside LinkedIn for “specific needs” i.e. one clear goal in each group. Actually, I think I’ll incorporate the word “lounge” in the title for each group, it lends a more personal and “homey” sense. Thanks for that, Elisa.

    BTW, it’s easy to create a group in LinkedIn, just click on:
    Groups > Create a Group!!! (I’ve missed easier ones than that!)

  7. One of the major problems with LinkedIn is that it is doing nothing to battle this perception. They are letting their brand go that way, and if that’s the way they are going, I think they will be a commodity when they could have owned the “professional networking” space.

    Look what Monster was…. everything! They owned the market. But they let it slip away. LinkedIn proudly took a lot of the market share but they continue to follow in Monster’s footsteps… and no one needs a crystal ball to see where that goes.

  8. With respect to groups, I think it must depend which ones you pick. There are several active groups in the embedded development space. We have regular discussions, often prompted by someone posting a question or request for help, but also following tech news etc. I’ve met a few people that way, and occasionally connect to them, but usually not – outside of groups, I use LinkedIn to keep track of present and former colleagues.

  9. Like others here, I use LinkedIn just to keep track of colleagues, contacts, etc. as they move around. In that aspect, it’s good because I may notice that someone has moved on to a company or industry that I’m interested in. I might then touch base with that person to get some feedback or info.

    However, that’s just enhancing an already existing relationship. I find LinkedIn pretty much useless for any type of job search in terms of developing relationships. Additionally, I’ve been getting pestered by recruiters who are obviously just doing some type of keyword search based on my LinkedIn profile. That’s no better than the ones trolling the other job boards for resumes.

    As for a Facebook job board, that’s got to be the stupidest idea. Unless one maintains two accounts (one personal, one professional) or runs a single account solely as a “clean” account for marketing oneself, it’s dangerous.

    I use Facebook to “hang out” with friends who are far away. This involves posting links to funny/interesting things, trading inside jokes, making fun of each other, and posting random pictures. I keep everything locked down (friends only, which ain’t that great to begin with).

    To either use that forum to market oneself for a job, look for jobs, develop relationships in a job search, or look for employees is like doing such things at a dive bar. It’s not the proper place.

    I agree with Gord’s and Nick’s assessment about Usenet. You had you very, very targeted interest groups, and it was (is) people talking shop. Looking to make some headway into a particular area? Chances are there’s a long-named group ( that exists….or create one.

    These are also groups which exist mainly to discuss the subject; you can actually talk to people about it. Direct job items are usually pushed off to another subgroup. This helps separate out the fluff of people just trolling for contacts/resumes/jobs.

  10. When I say LinkedIn is a glorified phonebook, that’s not just a put-down. It’s also a compliment. We need a great online phonebook to find and stay in touch with people. But it’s hardly an innovation – it’s a simple database. And therein lies the problem, I think. Innovations in our online world are driven and limited by “the database mindset.” While I admire those who have mastered the inticacies of databases, they suck at developing good ideas for the web. To them (yah, I know what I sound like), everything is a record or a data set. And innovation lies in linking one piece of data to another. That’s why LinkedIn – as soon as Reid Hoffman took a flyer – looked to expand its database capabilities by adding a job board. It’s trivial. It’s stupid. It’s mindless. It’s lazy. It’s a sign that the database wonks are running the show – and it’s a sign that LinkedIn hired both the salespeople and the techs from some job board – reportedly Monster.

    There is no relationship system in LinkedIn – just a database. And that’s too bad.

  11. For those who don’t know him, Jason Alba (commented above) is the master of using LinkedIn for job hunting. Jason runs JibberJobber, the perfect Excel spreadsheet for managing your job search. (That’s how he has described it, though it’s much more.) Jason is also the author of a DVD and a book about how to use LinkedIn for job hunting – and it’s full of great tips and methods. So when Jason piles on and worries that LinkedIn is wasting an opportunity, then I don’t think I’m pointing in the wrong direction.

  12. As usual, Nick is spot on. The ‘social’ updates I receive are now flooded with local recruiters I connected with while unemployed trying to fill slots they ‘own’ from their firm. In addition, recruiters from ‘sweat houses’ are now trying to be a connection, or contacting me via LindedIn email designation. I have ‘unconnected’ with many recruiters I believe are over extending the concept of interactions with connections.

    Before this recent ‘job board’ takeover, I felt LinkedIn was more of a referral / reference for job SEEKERS – I would reference my LinkedIn profile on resume – and my profile was mini resume of sorts, depicting my last 10-12 years of employment. My recommendations from past superiors are listed, as well as recommendations from peers. Any HR team doing ‘red flag’ research would only see professional background and interactions.

    I also concur about the ‘phonebook’ aspect. I also have old classmates from college and old co-workers as connections in the event there is a ‘hello’ called for and here is the pertinent data to do so.

    Too bad they sold out – I used to like LinkedIn.

    – Tom J

  13. I think it’s fine to use every tool at your disposal to find work, but I would not exclusively rely on sites like Linked In, and I would use those sites primarily for what they were originally intended—relationship building.

    I am NOT a job seeker, but an independent consultant (hence always looking for gigs, but not full-time employment). Let me tell you how I use LI:

    I will accept anybody who wants to “connect” with me, even if I don’t know them. I now have close to 1000 connections. Once a month, I do a targeted search to come up with a couple of dozen “1st” connections. It might be geographic, it might by by industry or company. I don’t even look at things like whether or not I think I can get a specific gig or work from them. At that rate, it will take me five years to go through my connections.

    I send them an “inmail” saying something like “We are connected on LI, but we really don’t know each other. Would love to get to know you better—can I buy you a cuppa coffee?” About 40% of the people I approach respond, and within a month or so, I have a “meet & greet” (not a pitch meeting!) with them.

    To date, none of those meetings has resulted in a contract. But all of them have resulted in new and better relationships with people who now know me, and who are in a position to refer me work or recommend my services.

    As Nick once said, “Don’t look for a job. Build relationships and the job will come.”

  14. Nick, thank you for the comment.

    I love to hear how others talk about me (and JibberJobber), especially after the hot thread on tag lines and elevator pitches.

    It took me two years before I figured out to say that JibberJobber replaces the job search spreadsheet. I also say it is a tool to organize your job search. Those are my two easiest ways to help people understand what it is.

    To learn more, check out the 3 minute video on the front of, or join us each Wednesday for a 60 – 90 minute webinar for JibberJobber users:

  15. Nick,

    Great article. I used LinkedIn when I was job hunting to gain information. For example, for a couple of interviews I was able to locate the profile of the person I would be interviewing with. Gave me some information about the person and there background so I could tailor my discussion.

    I can understand that LinkedIn is in the business of making money. Hopefully they can not lose site of their original purpose.

    As with any other tool, LinkedIn is only as smart as the person using it. It is a relationship building tool. If you connect with anyone, anytime and anywhere, you are a “name grabber” and not a relationship builder.

    Unless of course you are a business, in which case you should have a business profile.

  16. Maybe I’m just cynical, but LinkedIn has always seemed like “MySpace in a suit”.

  17. I just signed up for LinkedIn yesterday, feeling really behind the times. The whole time I’m signing up I feel like it’s such a waste of time, and to spend an hour building my profile is one more hour I’m not learning or meeting people in the industry I’m trying to break into. Thank you for confirming my unease! : ) The last thing I need is another social network, or an impotent job search tool.

  18. @Tom J: Your assessement is right on. I was just talking with a friend at UCLA, who heads up a career counseling office for biz students. She remarked that LinkedIn is what it is because of who its customers are. That is, employers and recruiters now pay to access people’s records on Linked.

    But you put a fine point on this: LinkedIn used to be useful to job hunters. But you don’t pay to use it, so Linked has shifted its focus toward those who do. In other words, get used to the flood of recruiting spam. Heck, this is worse than Monster – it’s starting to sound like TheLadders and Marc Cenedella’s “for life” mailing list.

  19. @L.T.: Yah, that’s a good comparison! And TheLadders was HotJobs in suit, too. Until it started panhandling for anyone that wants to join! I wonder if LinkedIn has any idea what it’s done to its rep? I guess as long as the $$ flows from employers, there’s no reason to change anything. But they really should look at other big sites that saw things that way. Monster. HotJobs. TheLadders. MySpace. Facebook. You can only screw people for so long while you run to the bank with revenue from recruiters.

  20. @Jenny: LinkedIn is not a bad thing – but it’s not what it promises. If you do the work to find people who might help you, it can be quite useful. But the system itself is not inherently helpful, in my opinion. It’s a glorified phone directory – you have to know who you’re looking for and why. But forget about “asking for links” and getting magical “connections!”

    In other words, use it for what it’s good for – but don’t pay for it.

  21. Thank you for the topic.
    LinkedIn had a great concept and ignored the problems that began arising in mid 2009. Perhaps a professional site done through might be more effective. Make the initial contact through the site and do business in person and online.

  22. I use LinkedIn. I agree with L.T.; it is Myspace with a suit.

    I do find LinkedIn useful in these ways: I use it to look up people I am interviewing with to find out what they say about themselves, so I can bring that topic if it is relevant. I use it to look up people for my friends who are looking for a connection. I pass along messages. I use it to keep in touch with colleagues from past jobs.

    However, in the last year, I’ve been really annoyed by the number of recruiters whom I do not know, who think I should respond to their messages about jobs which may (and mostly not) correspond to a key word search. Those inquiries generally do not correspond to my interests or expertise. I had called Monster and CareerBuilder years ago, and had them permanently delete my resume from their database. I may wind up doing the same with LinkedIn.

  23. @Nick: And the sad part is, I find MySpace more useful these days, at least for my side project involving club bands.

    I too have gotten tired of the “instant response” any time a fiddle with my profile on Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, at least from the Big Name insurance companies who are convinced that my project manager / writer profile just screams that I want to chuck it all and start robo-dialing people who have more than enough life insurance to sell them life insurance.

    My challenge is still out there to any recruiter / headhunter / agent, tho it may have capped a bit because my end had to avoid the billionaire tax increase. (What is the proposal this week? $250k? $225k? talk about a potential brake on the economy!)

  24. I had used Monster back in the day and found it to be ineffective, a time waster and nothing more than an inbox cluttering tool. Now I cannot get the auto-emails to stop.

    I personally have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn as they allow “anonymous” people to stalk/lurk your profile (which I will add I hate), yet some very reputable companies have been consistently posting jobs on the site. I have been recruited 3x by Amazon and once by a State Port using LinkedIn, but have never made it to Round Two of job interviewing as the same excuse has been “we decided to hire internally”. It seems to be more of a “testing the water” platform for companies rather than anything serious or consistent.

    I have been sitting on the fence about shutting it down for good as all I have currently seen from it is people showcasing (including myself) the excessive ‘look at me I am a star!’ with both college and work. It comes across as shameless, over-the-top self promotion when I have not benefitted from using it the past two years. Really mostly worthless.

  25. I use LinkedIn as a site where I can display my professional background and can see the one of other people (it’s got so many security holes, even if people shield some information… so, if you don’t want your info accidentally seen by everybody who googles you, don’t place it on LinkedIn). Also, my old colleagues find me (sometimes, they use FB) and I find them.

    Besides that, it’s a big spammer site; I receive recruiter spam a few pieces every day, with the great majority of recruiters never reading my profile, as simple as my location. In this sense, LinkedIn falls short even compared to other resume boards – no preferred location, position, salary range etc. Would be nice to have an anti-spam policy and a checkbox “I have read and understood this person’s profile”. As for the job board, it has deteriorated over the past few years. It used to have many postings by LinkedIn members where I can instantly see their profile and contact them. Now I have to go through pages and pages posted by the same consulting company until getting something different. Premium paying customers?

  26. I joined LinkedIn early in its life, before I was a recruiter. So it has 2 dimensions to me
    As noted, sort of a phone book, I don’t consider it as a network, but a networking tool, something to help manage what I’ve built, that I don’t have to maintain myself. It helps me to keep in touch, in a business like matter.
    As a recruiter, I started using it early on to find candidates, but didn’t warm up to it as a posting agent. Especially when L-In started wanted to charge for group postings.
    As someone pointed out, the endorsement feature is clutter. I have people endorsing me for attributes they couldn’t possibly evaluate. Just clicking an icon.
    Be that as it may I still like and make use of a networking aid.

  27. I haven’t used LinkedIn or social networking sites for finding jobs or doing business, except as a “glorified phonebook” as several commenters already mentioned.

    On my free time, I’ve found the events functionality of social networks (on Facebook and a couple of other networks I belong to) useful. My contacts tend to invite me to events I’m interested in – or at least the signal to noise ratio is better compared to browsing event listings. Secondly, I can propagate information about events I’m organizing myself or otherwise excited about.

    However, my Facebook profile has little to do with my professional interests and network. If LinkedIn would have similar functionality to create, to receive and send invitations to professional events, I would probably use it.

    A Google search for “LinkedIn Events” revealed that there actually was such functionality available – but LinkedIn has decided to shut it down. I guess that won’t be in the upcoming features list then. Perhaps a partnership with some other site (e.g. would be the right direction.

  28. LinkedIn is a good tool to use to find others you have worked with in the past, to create a visual with people you chat with yet have never met. In order to use it as a tool for job seeking or looking for possible candidates you must belong to the right group or you must be at their highest level of membership which is terribly expensive.

  29. I’m an early user ( adopter) of LI – and use it mostly just to keep track of friends and colleagues in the industry. I find as a job search tool – it’s about as useless ( and irritating) as any other – for most/all of the reasons previously mentioned. However I also use it to track personnel movement within various companies and geo areas … which if your attune – could sometimes alert one to somewhat hidden job potential … it just takes a lot of work as LI makes doing this somewhat iterative ( LI seems to have missed the category of states and is stuck on metro areas or zip codes). At one time as I remember they used to make it much easier to see who had left/joined a company … but I suspect they found that particular convenience was annoying to the companies who now pay for listings.

  30. It seems I never get to disagree with you Nick (it’s a joke). You hit it dead on yet again. You are right about Linkedin that it could’ve been something revolutionary. Instead of fostering true NEW connections, instead they turned their focus to yet another, “key-word matching job hunt database”, another and to “can your pride mentality” to beg somebody to link you because you couldn’t fill in their email in the field provided when they asked “How do you know Mr. Ron blah blah blah”. To top it all off, they remind you it’s etiquette to know someone before trying to “link” them into your network. It’s crap. Chuck it down the black hole of death along with, Careerbuilder.comTheLadders, and all of the rest.

    Best to do your hard research. Ask someone out to a cup of coffee,and join networking communities. Works most of the time.

    Good stuff!

  31. Your right Gwen. All their etiquette and rules for group joining. You get notes from LI saying” you belong to the max amount of groups” No more for you…even though you have been “invited” by a friend or colleague to join. Just try to delete a group you may not want to be in anymore….not easy. Ridiculous! The etiquette of not asking someone you do not know is nonsense. Maybe you would like to get to know them. Maybe they would like to know you. LI will send you a note : “you have asked to many people you do not know” if you continue we will suspend you! Good Grief! What is this 8th grade?

  32. I don’t have either a LinkedIn or Facebook account, as I’m not entirely convinced of the usefulness of either, and I’m concerned about some of the security issues as well.

    However, that doesn’t stop me from getting those boilerplate “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” invitations. Usually, I just delete them – and the follow-ups as well. On one occasion, though, because I actually knew the guy, I told him that I didn’t have a LI account. Guess what: he hadn’t intended to send the invitation. As he put it, LI fired off invites to everyone in his email account, without his knowing it was happening.

    So that’s another thing that puts me off: I don’t want to risk sending spam around – there’s enough of that sort of junk as it is.

  33. That happened to me also Jane…I was NOT happy about it. There are hundreds of people on my email list I do not want to connect with and spent weeks deleting invitations. I do enjoy my FB page though with friends and family…it beats chatting on the phone, it allows me to keep in touch, get back in touch with old friends, classmates, share photos, talk politics,take action on issues of concern, share stories, jokes… and I have never had an issue with security.It is controllable and you can shut it down if you want. It is not for everyone…but being a “social butterfly” I enjoy it. By the way Atkinson is my family name….:)

  34. The endorsement feature is meaningless. It is so vague and general that it cannot be used to evaluate if the endorsed person actually knows anything. I have even been endorsed be people who are not qualified to endorse me on the topic they have endorsed me!

  35. Nick,

    I’m a former airline Special Assistance Team member. Usually called “Care Teams,” these are volunteer employees who receive special training and temporarily deploy from their regular jobs to assist people involved in emergencies or accidents.

    Most of my LinkedIn use involves moderating a group I started for current and former Transportation Special Assistance Team members. We share news, insights, experience, and recommendations on relevant material like books and documentaries. I personally screen all members and content to ensure the group doesn’t turn into a spamfest as many LinkedIn groups have.

    We have almost 300 members from all over the world. They’re at all levels of management and work in numerous transportation modes. In my opinion this represents the power and potential of LinkedIn: using the web to build productive relationships between people who otherwise might never have known each other, much less interacted or contributed to one another’s success.

    All the best,


  36. In my opinion, I see nothing professional about any of the social media sites.

    I for one am not about to (and I know of no real pro either who would) outline their entire career and education plus experience background on a social media site. I am also not out to gather a bunch of strangers as friends. The entire idea of it all it in my view just plain sad.

    Social media to me is a complete waste of my time and is nothing more than a source fo intelligence gathering. I looked at it at the get-go and quickly realised I wanted nothing to do with any of it.

  37. P.S. We also monitor industry jobs and make our group members aware of opportunities but that’s a minor element.

    Aside from the group, as others mentioned LI is a great way to reconnect and keep up with former colleagues and counterparts. As for finding a job, I’ve used LI as others have for research purposes but agree they’re wasting their potential if they do turn into another job board.

  38. I repectfully disagree. What job board do you know that allows your connections to write you recommendations and endorse the skills that you have entered? Calling LinkedIn just another job board is selling it short.


    This article just put an emphatic stamp on your article, Nick. Eliminating a tool used by people that DON’T pay. A social media tool that non-profit job search groups and motivational help groups use to get people connected, motivated, and active in their job search & networking efforts.

    IMHO, It’s time to shrink your LinkedIn network, not expand it. Set all your privacy options to HIGH (you can turn off paid advetisements) and reset your expectations.

  40. Sometimes I wonder at all the boilerplate invitations I get on LinkedIn — but now it’s creepy. Jane, Lynda: You each reported that Linked either sent you invitations while you’re NOT a member, from a member who did NOT approve the invitation, or that your account sent invitations that you did approve. So is LinkedIn turning into TheLadders??

    If either of you can show me evidence of this behavior, I will look into it further. This is pretty bad stuff.

  41. Okay, I’ll bite: What’s a “Professional Networker?” Does that imply there are “Professional Job Hunters?” Well, there are “Professional Students.”

    Professionals get paid for what they do. I don’t get it in any of those cases.

  42. Nick:

    Re the unapproved LinkedIn invitations, I have the emails between me and the person in question. (I’d want to get his permission before sending them on, though.)

  43. I will see what I have Nick. I deleted people I did not want to connect with. Yet, there may be some info left. I believe there is a place that shows how many invites have been sent.

  44. Nick: I gave a link. Here is where you can find out what a Professional Networker looks like and does:

    Related to LinkedIn invitations, I believe that you can invite someone who is not on LinkedIn if you provide an Email in the request to connect.

    I get 4 – 5 generic invitations (which I despise) a week. The way I deal with them is I normally ignore them and say I don’t know the person. A professional networker is not the same thing as a LION. I am willing to connect with anyone who is willing to have the professional decency to send me something other than a generic invitation, but I do NOT connect just to have another connection.

  45. LinkedIn is more than just a phonebook or rolodex because it shows connectedness/relationships between and among entries (people). A phonebook is just a flat alphabetized file. John Doe and Mary Jones may both be in the phonebook, but there’s no way to know if they’re related/connected in some way. Problem is, most people don’t exploit the relationship info in LinkedIn, and by default, they use is as a phonebook.

  46. @Scott: What’s the “connectedness” between a LinkedIn member and his or her “500+” links? While I agree that there is a “3-D” quality to LinkedIn, I think it’s real only to a depth of maybe one link. I say maybe because so many people accept virtually any invitation they get. Otherwise, I do think LinkedIn is a flat database. But that can be very useful – if only because a data record is much more than a phonebook record of name, address, tel#. LinkedIn’s records have tons of fields that can be very useful. I just think the implied links can be interesting to view on someone’s profile – but I don’t ascribe much (if any) value to the connections I see.

    You made a very interesting suggestion, though. Why doesn’t LinkedIn “force” a definition of a connection? Those kooky forced choices Linked gives you (co-worker, friend, etc) are worthless. We all get around them all the time. Why doesn’t LinkedIn use a richer definition? I’ll tell you: It would discourage linking because most links are phony. And to sell advertising, more links are better for LinkedIn — even if they’re as useless as stale resumes on Monster.

  47. Nick: no doubt that indiscriminant linking compromises the quality and usefulness of LinkedIn. A quick glance at your profile shows you with 195 connections, and I’m guessing you are connected only with people you know well. Also, I can see that you and I are connected through Jeff Shuster and Debra Feldman. That might be useful information. If I knew the nature of those relationships, it could be even more useful! Maybe LinkedIn (or someone else) will see the light ;-)

  48. Don’t judge a book by its 500+ connections cover. I’ve been on LinkedIn since May of 2004 and over time I have accumulated many valuable connections. Are they all my BFF – no, of course not, but I do know why I am connected with every single one of them. If someone is not networking with me in some fashion over time then I will not have them as a connection. After all, networks are like gardens. Occasionally they need to be pruned in order to thrive.

    All in all, I agree that LinkedIn doesn’t have it “right” yet, but I still think it is the best professional networking tool available. The major problem with the way that some people use LinkedIn is pretty well summed up in a phrase my dear departed mother used to use – “A fool with a tool is STILL a fool”.

  49. My $0.02…

    The concept behind LinkedIn is pretty good but I don’t think it has been executed very well.

    I still get the recruiter spam, where it’s apparent they have not read my profile/goals/work history.

  50. Wow, now I feed bad. I don’t recall a single recruiter contacting me via LinkedIn.

  51. Going public has ruined many good companies. They get too focused on quarterly profits and loose sight of the long term purpose.

  52. Nick, good analysis. I wish I was half as articulate as you in saying what I want – I would’nt have changed 6 jobs in 20 years, not because I was’nt doing well or I did’nt like the place, but because I was’nt paid what was promised.

    Now, to the point – I got 2 of my 6 jobs through Linkedin but that was 3 years ago. Now, I am routinely being contacted by telemarketeers, people seeking performance appraisals (?!) and anyone but those I’d like to meet. It’s deteriorated into unprofessional chaos – agree with the online phonebook remark by Geff. So I’m shrinking my network, and opting out of groups which are filled with spam (which most of them are).

    At the same time, I wonder where to go to escape this low quality platform Linkedin has become.

    Is it so hard for online companies to set up a good conversation platform, one which does’nt have a zillion subscribers, but a well informed, relevant base willing to share unique knowledge and pay for use?

  53. @Manoj: I think Ask The Headhunter is a great online conversation platform. I’m surprised more employers don’t use it to recruit. It’s so easy to identify people’s work ethic in their comments.

    I agree: It’s too bad LinkedIn has deteriorated into a spam bin. That’s the price of selling out. They’re making money hand over fist selling job ads to HR departments, which are too stupid to realize what’s they’re doing. This isn’t recruiting. It’s picking low-hanging fruit. That’s a self-defeating strategy that disintegrates into wishful thinking.

  54. I find the user interface on LinkedIn to be horrible. I find it hard on the eyes. I cannot spend a lot of time on the site – I find it too busy and too much information in a poorly organized fashion. They are very pricey. I also use it to keep track of people. In order to connect you need an email address – so I already have the contact info.

  55. Less than a year ago, I recommended linkedin to a friend who was getting laid off, and was trying to figure out who could help him get a job, and where. He had pretty good results, and did find it useful for working the edges of his network as you suggest.

    First, he used a second degree connection to get in touch with a VP of a local company, who passed him onto HR with high complements for initiative. He got two interviews in short order. While it was no guarantee of a job, but it certainly got him in the door, and considered seriously. He ended up coming into another job in our company, with less than 2 months out of work. Our recruiters are active on the site, and he was actively networking via friends inside the company who’d talk to recruiting, so it’s hard to say whether the site helped, but it probably saved recruiting some time.

    I use linkedin so when a professional googles me, they find something. My facebook page reveals very slightly too much (a little politics and a family), so I hide it from google even when I’m not actively job hunting. I haven’t had a personal website since the 90s.

    I also recently subscribed to a group in my specialty. It’s a small specialty, a few hundred people worldwide, so if I occasionally get mass emails from other people in the group, they are worth a glance. The last one was for a 3 week contract (probably so they could take a long leave over the holidays) and I considered taking time off to earn some extra money.

    I’m usually on the shy side, so it’s a bit of an effort moving from meeting someone to considering them part of my network. The site has helped me expand outside of my own company and personal friends, and into connecting with my favorite clients, and being reached by some professional contacts I’ve helped. My current job is sometimes considered a stepping stone further into the field, and my coworkers use it (and facebook and aim) to keep from losing track of each other.

  56. @joy2b: Sounds like you have a good method for using LinkedIn.

  57. Hi Nick –
    Thanks for all the great columns – I love the Zen discussion in this one. In your Dec. 5 comment above, you asked about evidence of LinkedIn sending out mass emails to users’ contact lists. I assume you have that one figured out by now, and here’s a discussion of the problem when people allow LinkedIn to access to their email account contact lists:

    Regarding the question about using LinkedIn, as a career changer I have my old profile for the first career with a simple chronology of employers and no connections (allows old friends to find me), and the new profile where I show them the new me (and the new networks are building). So far, so good.