LinkedIn is a constant in recruiting conversations. Are you on it? Do you really network? Use the groups? Post jobs? Do you source on it? Still? Is it gone yet? What about Microsoft? Will they kill it? Use all the data? Make it better? Make it worse? Chicken Little is spinning out of control with the constant LinkedIn rhetoric.
I’m kind of tired of those conversations. It’s been a useful tool for networking, since what, 2004? And I was a latecomer to embracing it. Only when I started training other people in how to really leverage the site did I get the boon it was to the recruiting industry. And like so many internet wonders, its early iterations were the best and most manipulated by recruiting professionals. It’s definitely morphed over the years into this behemoth that is now a necessary evil in many recruiting departments.
Don’t get me wrong, we get hires. And non-recruiters are still joining it. But it’s not fun. And it’s not really engaging. From a user perspective at least.
What’s engaging? Facebook groups. They work, they’re responsive. See this conversation I have running on the Sourcecon group page. I got back usable information for my team within a matter of minutes.
So that gets me thinking….what are the ideal components to construct a LinkedIn replacement….for a recruiter? And at the same time build a better social network? Consider:
- Do not, I repeat do not, advertise yourself as a recruiting site or a job site. Be about the connection and networking. This is what all these social media sites started out as but then lost sight of. No one wants to look for a job, and they sure won’t visit a job/recruiting site daily. But everyone wants to visit a site for networking and connecting.
- Make it a fun destination, whether on the app or the laptop version, it’s got to be a place we all want to visit. Fun across generations. It’s important for us to be able to reach across a broad spectrum of people to continue to develop diverse workforces.
- Networking…that’s key. We like to network. If we aren’t wanting to network for our current openings or future openings, we’re thinking about growing our careers. Instead of encouraging people to connect with “who they know” offer perks….badges even….for connecting with people.
- Make profile development super easy. Time it out, how fast can users upload their information? Are you using generic titles/industries and so on? Can they have opportunities to customize? Make some of the user generated information consistent.
- Make the information public, charge for contact. And find a way to guarantee contact (if you have a guaranteed contact method, wouldn’t you use it? wouldn’t you pay for it?)
- Don’t make us spend an endless amount of time viewing and downloading/exporting profiles. As recruiters, we want to get in and out. Work something out with DataMiner so we can mass download our potential candidates. I’m certain at the time of download you could hit us with contact information if we pony up some coins.
- Back to the app idea, advertise on it. If users want to avoid the ads? Make them upgrade…just like any game out there. People pay for that when they’re on Words or CandyCrush, why not on a job app?
- Be vigilant on spammers and fake profiles. If a “Best of the Best” list can prevent me from voting twice on the best restaurant in my hometown because of my IP address, creative thinking can do the same to avoid duplicate accounts.
- Sign on the recruiting industry – but don’t cater to it. Cater to the users you want on the site. And be original. See what’s making other networking sites fail and avoid those missteps.
Ultimately, it boils down to a simple recipe to create an alternative to LinkedIn. Create fun, speed, engagement, accurate data and anti-spam and under no circumstances make your site a recruiting site (the recruiters and sourcers are smart enough to figure out how to leverage it on their own!). Charge the recruiting industry, but don’t make it painful. Those are the keys to the next generation networking site.
Kelly is the Recruitment Manager for Westat, a leading social science research organization headquartered in Rockville, Maryland.