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Is LinkedIn Losing Its Way?

By July 25, 20138 Comments

Hey LinkedIn.  What are you up to?  You’re the professional social network that is supposed to be the future of recruitment… Are you finding it difficult to juggle being the altruistic nirvana for professional networking and a publicly listed corporation monetising and commercialising left, right and centre to to sate your voracious shareholders?


Heh – funny that.


You see, us in recruitment, we kind of like you on the whole.  After all, we’ve probably worked out best of all how to craft, bend and steer your various wily ways into generating commercial outcomes for ourselves.  And we in recruitment like to make money, on the whole, which is one of the things that keeps us coming back for more.  This is, of course, also one of the things that makes us generally unpopular and mistrusted in the eyes of the wider public.


But we’re used to it.  We know that we peddle in the careers of individuals, whose ability to land a job is so tied up in financial imperatives and societal status that the emotional reaction to failure is to blame the middle man.  I’ve just returned to Auckland from a trip to Wellington (lovely and sunny both days, yes in winter – there you go JL), and have endured the usual commentary:  The client who bemoans the utter dearth of quality recruitment talent out there;  the jobseeker resigned to sending his CV into a “void” from which he is unlikely to ever hear a response;  the industry supplier sneering at the brash suits in the Koru Lounge barking into their phones as always being a recruiter (or sometimes a politician);  the internal recruiter surprised at how few agency suppliers are able to keep pace with their expectations as a corporate recruitment team….and so on.


Until recently, LinkedIn couldn’t really go wrong though.  Early skeptics and detractors like Greg Savage played second fiddle to your growing legion of admirers.  But I’m starting to hear more and more dissension out there… Where Greg complained about the inaccuracy of information on LinkedIn, that can’t be blamed on LinkedIn themselves, they have the ability to report as inappropriate to police lies on the site don’t they?  It’s up to us to do something about it.  But then I read this great post from Craig Watson yesterday about another user, who I presume must be a fellow rec-to-rec, paying connections to write him a Recommendation.



Earlier in the week I posted a status update that obviously struck a nerve with many recruiters too:


“LinkedIn occasionally sends me a list of “jobs I may be interested in” which this week contains things like Asset Management Consultant, Digital Campaign Producer and Category Insights Leader. None of which I’m remotely qualified for, or interested in. Is this advertising money well-spent by those clients of LinkedIn? Or is it just “spray and pray” in reverse?”


Maybe the corporates who paid money to LinkedIn don’t care that their ad is eyeballed by inappropriate “candidates” like me.  For many internal recruiters it has all become a process-driven numbers game anyway.  But how would they feel if they knew jobseekers could also pay LinkedIn to have their profile appear at the top of the list presented back to them?  This eye-opening post (thanks for sharing Craig), is a must read around this issue.


But guess what LinkedIn.  I don’t really mind.  I know what we are in recruitment.  Not all of us are bottom-feeding scumbags leaching off the vulnerable jobless, but I also know it’s a hopeless and thankless task trying to convince everyone otherwise.  And I’ll bet you treat the growing dissent the same way.  Sure, develop more ways to gouge cash from both ends of the recruitment transaction if you like.  Don’t expect everyone to feel  great about it, but your shareholders will, and that’s what matters to you now isn’t it?


Just please stop referring to yourself as a “professional social network”.  You’re not “social”.  People lie on your site.  They bribe, brag, beg and steal.  They endorse people they’ve never met.  They claim honours, awards, education and experience that never existed.  And then they pay you money to appear at the top of your clients’ shortlists for jobs that those clients also paid you to post.


You’re just a job board.  A fancy, schmancy job board with photos and profiles.  But a job board nevertheless.


And I’m fine with that.

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • A funny thing happened on the way to assessing what LinkedIn’s “paid positioning” offer means to recruiters. A reporter for one of the leading recruiter sites in the U.S. interviewed me and concluded there’s no story here for recruiters.

    Fancy that. Meanwhile, you boys down under are as troubled about this as I am… perhaps I’ll catch the next boat south and bring my woolies. Can we go skiing? (Thanks for the link and the coverage.)

  • Erin Woods says:

    Jonathon – you write with passion. I have read the article attached and I am appalled that people are ” buying ” endorsments. What happened to integrity! As a recruiter I find this practice disgusting. Lack of integrity = dishonesty. Dishonesty = a dodgy character best avoided. I value my endorsements and have never even asked for one let alone paid someone to get one. I guess the really good recruiters don’t need to!

  • Luke Collard says:

    Couldn’t have put in better myself JR. In our business, which I run with the aforementioned Craig, we have developed a love / hate relationship with LinkedIn. It’s still more ‘love’ than ‘hate’ ….but the magic answer to all our recruitment dreams it certainly is not….similar to job boards or databases when they entered the market.

  • Luke Collard says:

    …that is the character that I get picked for me !!! Offended….!

  • Craig Watson says:

    I hope we’re all not ‘poking the bear’ too much… But… needs to be said!

  • Kevin Chappell says:

    The point, and this verifies it, is that LinkedIn has added “talent-search-therefore-recruitment” to their “professional networking site” and like most who add on components, they fail. The fundamental essence of why in the first place gets lost with the “add-ons”. I get rubbish sent to me, just as when I try to search the useless plethora of CVs on Seek. LinkedIn, I’m not remotely qualified to be the Category Insights Leader for Wines & Spirits for Lion Nathan or an Independent Director for Super Liquor Holdings (mmm, something common here though…) unless of course my penchant for Central Otago Pinot Noir counts!!! And Seek, those 3219 CVs that are eminently suitable for that specialist role? I wish!

    Talk about the promises we make! They pale into insignificance with these guys.

    But don’t get me wrong. I’m a great advocate for LinkedIn, and use it extensively. It’s just that I use it the way I want to and use it successfully. I just don’t need anyone to give me tools they think will help me do what I know best to do. And then have to pay unreasonable money to do so!

  • lisa garrity says:

    Entertaining as ever…when you eventually leave your love affair with recruitment you should write a book. Seriously, I would buy it 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    Jon, do you feel the same about the nuisance of “endorsements” on LinkedIn? It seems to be the only updates I get now. So and so has endorsed me. I figured it out pretty quickly, we are not intentionally endorsing people; the link appears on our own profile and we click “OK Endorse all 5 people” by accident!. Everyday I am endorsed for recruiting!!! No way…REALLY?