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Why Isn't LinkedIn Better?

An Open Letter to LinkedIn

Why Isn’t LinkedIn Better?

By In Blog On June 21, 2017


Before I get to the title question, I am a huge LinkedIn fan. I use the site daily and have had a premium membership since 2007. LinkedIn has been very good for my business and I like it, both in concept and in execution.

I’m a corporate recruiter. My clients are large manufacturing and energy companies. I help them identify and hire suitable middle and upper management supply chain management professionals. I’ve been a “contingency” corporate recruiter almost continuously since 1993. My current recruiting firm was formed in 2006.

Before the internet, figuring out who was who inside any large company was a time consuming process. I used two giant blue manufacturing directories (real books) to look up the main telephone numbers of companies so that I could cold-call in and fish around. I looked for potential candidates, open jobs, and hiring managers who needed help. Sometimes I found talkative people sometimes I didn’t. No matter what, I wrote down every name I heard and valued every shred of information. My (real paper) notebooks, filled with names and phone numbers, were worth more than their weight in gold. That information was hard earned and a key component of my value proposition.

Sure, good recruiters have other skills (communications, persuasion, etc.) in addition to having lots of potential candidates. However it is largely access to qualified candidates that companies value. Since the ‘90’s finding information and potential candidates has only gotten easier. As a recruiter, I’ve seen my value proposition shrink as a result. In the short term, easy access to candidates has been a boon to my business. Again, thank you LinkedIn. The long term doesn’t look so good though. Or at least it shouldn’t.

Let me tell you how I do my job. We covered the old days – Lots of cold calls, lots of writing stuff down. Things are a bit different now. Instead of calling anyone I just get on LinkedIn. I look for advertised jobs, some with existing clients, some with potential new clients. Once I find a job I think I have candidates for, I look for the hiring manager and send him or her an email. If someone from the company replies and is interested in having me provide candidates I get right back on LinkedIn and start searching.

How do I search? I use key words in the company’s own job descriptions to write detailed searches using LinkedIn’s search tools. When I find highly applicable candidates, I contact them, recruit them and submit them. That’s all I do. When it works I get paid a commission. My average fee for a single placement is $25,670.00. There is still some process management (hand-holding) but a lot of my larger clients don’t want any recruiter involvement after the submission, making my job even easier and my value proposition even thinner.

To me, the scale of the fee relative to the work involved is out of balance. The fees are based on the old method of recruiting. I figured this out some time ago and have been worried ever since but companies are still paying. Why? They haven’t figured out a better way.

There is a better way though. And, there is one company poised to benefit more than any other. I’ve been trying to tell them for six months but haven’t made any progress. I’m posting this here now for two reasons:

1. To find out if I’m wrong and my idea is stupid

2. To see if I can get some attention in case my idea is not stupid

The company that could benefit more than any other and dominate all recruiting and job hunting is LinkedIn. The question that keeps me up at night worrying whether or not I’ll have a business when I get out of bed the next day is:

Why hasn’t LinkedIn completely automated the candidate search process for client companies?

Why aren’t candidate searches automatically created when the job descriptions are posted based on key-word harvesting, geography, experience, education level, and other information that’s in the job description anyway?

In my head, this is very simple. LinkedIn has almost 500 million users, who, let’s be honest, are on LinkedIn because they want exposure to career opportunities. The message to companies: LinkedIn is where the people are. Automated searches could filter and deliver the most applicable candidates to fill any well described job. All client companies have to do is complete and post job descriptions like they would normally, and of course, pay an additional premium (that would still be a lot less than a recruiter fee). The best potential candidates (based on the companies’ own job descriptions) would be delivered automatically to contact and invite to interview. Imagine: No more recruiters, limited numbers of highly matched potential candidates, faster more streamlined processes and communications, lower overall cost-to-hire.

LinkedIn can offer a unique value proposition to hiring companies because of the size of their user network. LinkedIn really is where the people are, more so than anywhere else. Not only is LinkedIn where the people are today but it will continue to grow even larger. By becoming the only place where candidate searches are automated LinkedIn will be able to offer a unique service to job seekers as well, encouraging even more to join the site, resulting in an even larger potential candidate network to offer to client companies. In this way, growth feeds itself and the value proposition becomes better all the time.

New revenue would come from not only premium automated search services but also increased ad views based on additional individual user time spent on the site, both by job seekers and hiring companies; existing and new users. Additional user time spent would be fed by the fact that good search results both for job seekers and hiring companies depend on detail. Detail takes time.

New users, both company and individual, would follow existing users because they’d have to keep up. Companies who are NOT using LinkedIn’s automated search will be at a recruiting disadvantage and will be compelled to use the service. Job seekers who are NOT on LinkedIn will be equally compelled to create decent profiles less they miss out on potential opportunities.

Why isn’t this happening already? This isn’t the same as the flying cars we were promised 50 years ago. This is actually doable. LinkedIn has all the user information, we enter it in ourselves! They have the brand, size, and ability.

What are they missing? What am I missing?

I’ve tried contacting a few people at LinkedIn, including CEO Jeff Weiner. I actually spoke with a Sr. VP there a few months ago. Maybe I haven’t done a good enough job of explaining my ideas or maybe they are just bad ideas. I don’t know.

If I’m missing something and automated search, as I’ve described it, is impossible, it would be nice to know so I could get a good night’s sleep. If, on the other hand, LinkedIn could do something like this, I’d love to help them build it and take recruiting and job search to the next level.

Kurt Schmidt is the author of “Modern Job Search” and the President and Owner of Capto Systems, an executive search firm focused on supply chain and strategic sourcing jobs in manufacturing and energy. He’s also an aspiring photographer and traveler.  If you’re really looking for a job, you need his book!  

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