Before I start I should establish that this post is purely based on my personal experience and I am not trying to pass it as factual information. I am solely sharing my experience and will hopefully be able to hear from others who have the same or perhaps a different opinion.
I have spent the good part of the past 6 years in building a decent network on Linked In. A network that has a large number of executives and decision makers in it but is also wide enough to span across a range of candidates with different calibers. The result of that is somewhere close to 16 k direct connections with another 12 k invitations sitting in my inbox (which I cannot access to accept and their technical support has confirmed that is a bug and have said to me that “they are working on it”).
I have seen countless articles (both well written and not so well written), on how Linked In is going to spell doom and gloom on the recruitment industry. Some articles confirm (to my surprize very firmly) that Linked in will be the end of recruitment industry as we know it while others have been somewhat less conclusive.
I personally think in these situations time is perhaps the best truth teller. However I cannot help but to remember the late 90s when monster came about. Though a student at the time, I remember there were newspaper articles about how recruitment industry was worried about the fact that employers now have a very reliable source of advertising their jobs directly. Not to mention other forms of online media that followed such as myspace and orkut and countless others that were all unstoppable as a result of massive changes in internet and technology. But where is monster or myspace and where is the recruitment industry now?
I don’t know about you but I personally think recruiters ended up taming monster to become a tool that helped their industry become bigger rather than the other way around.
I am not here to deny that Linked In (like many other forms of media) has changed the way we do things (at least slightly). However on a good day, Linked In is a bug-ridden tool filled with technical errors. Apart from yes, no and maybe and some very obvious questions their technical support cannot solve a lot of existing issues and don’t even know where the issue is coming from (And I have been a paid member for a very long time). What is even more of a problem is that the size of linked in worked against it!. I remember back in 2007/2008 for example I used linked in to find candidates a lot more than I do now. The reason? It is filled with over-exaggerated (and at times out-right dishonest) information of employee performance. When Linked In was smaller 90% of the candidates who signed up were the top breed in their relevant industry and even if they were not it was much easier to filter through them. As time went on not only everyone and their pooch signed up on linked in, their search engine lost its initial quality to the degree that if I want to search linked in for a candidate today, I use google’s search engine.
Furthermore the main reason linked in came about was to provide an online networking tool for professionals who could share ideas in their relevant industry, organize events, update themselves on the changes, ask questions, contact each other, and form an association online. The reason it turned into the so claimed recruitment solution that it is today is because recruiters saw this as a great field that could be harvested for candidates which drove linked in into that direction.
I have seen many companies investing money in putting campaigns together on linked in to attract candidates and demonstrate how cool of an organization they are on linked in. Whether they get any results or not I don’t know but here is my conclusion:
Linked In is not going to be an exception. Like many other forms of media that bubbled up in their prime time and later either completely vanished or experienced reduction in their operation, Linked In is destined to burst. Also I can almost guarantee that Linked In wont be the last entity that will have an influence on the recruitment industry. Much like Monster was not the last one. Sooner or later there will be something else.
The cowboy recruiter, who knows little about their industry, barely understands what the client is talking about and rather hope that they have found the right candidate with little to no knowledge of managing the process will fail just as miserably even if linked in and other forms of media were not there to compete tomorrow.
On the other hand the head hunter that invests time to understand their niche, listen and understand the client, think about how they can contribute towards the growth of their client rather than making a quick buck, and also invests time to build relationship with top of the line candidates, track them through their career, gain their trust, understand their personality and match them to the right opportunity when it becomes available will always be successful. No amount of Linked In or anything else can change that, now or in future.