Book review: The Power of LinkedIn

power of linkedin

I recently subscribed to a library membership and chanced upon “The Power of LinkedIn” by Jan Vermeiren and Bert Verdonck. Jan and Bert are both celebrities in their own right when it comes to expertise on professional networking. Both of them have written several books and spoken at professional events on how to bring an individual’s or an organization’s professional networks to life. As LinkedIn takes up more of my social networking time compared to any other platform (more than FB and WhatsApp), the book caught my attention. I consider myself an advanced-level LinkedIn user, having used most of the functionalities one can get from a free membership. I’ve used the platform to build my personal brand and create a global network of connections. That said, even for an advanced user, “The Power of LinkedIn” has several useful tips and recommendations.

I’m enlisting some of the key lessons that beginners, as well as advanced LinkedIn users, can learn from the book.

For LinkedIn beginners:

  1. Tips on how to set up a credible profile
  2. How to build and work towards a goal through LinkedIn
  3. The traps to avoid with LinkedIn
  4. The power of groups and associations
  5. The LinkedIn attitude- Thinking long-term

For advanced users:

  1. How to define goals and tasks
  2. Why features like SlideShare and YouTube are important and how to use them effectively
  3. Looking beyond 1st degree connections and ways to build a strong 2nd degree network
  4. How advanced searches can help find connections and potential employees
  5. How to build eminence through LinkedIn Groups

Overall, it’s a very practical and useful book with a lot of potential to change an individual’s approach toward professional networking. I’d recommend the book to anyone who wants to dig deep on how to unlock the platform’s immense potential.

The social media war begins- Oracle enters the hiring space

Up until a few months back, LinkedIn enjoyed the monopoly of a rich database of global professionals coupled with social media platform capabilities. Very soon, this monopoly will likely be challenged by other players like Oracle who are taking their social media business expansion plans extremely seriously.

With the social media hiring trend picking rapid momentum, more and more companies are entering the race to stay competitive and stay relevant. Many experts comment that companies that fail to leverage the social media opportunity will bear significant opportunity costs in terms of potential talent pool reach and time take to close positions. As the competition intensifies in this space, from a fairly fragmented industry with low entry barriers, we are witnessing the next level of market structuring in the social media service space― consolidation. Two recent developments are indicators that the social media hiring space is really heating up. On 27 August, 2012, IBM announced the acquisition of Kenexa, a social media networking company with a dual purpose― boost its hiring efforts as well as enter the social media provider space. Following that, another large headline was made this week when Oracle announced acquiring SelectMinds, a social media networking company. In a series of deals, this was Oracle’s biggest deal of the year.

It is important to note that this acquisition follows another large acquisition by Oracle― application tracking and recruitment application, Taleo. This development largely beckons the beginning of intense competition in the service provider market. With a large repository of applicant information, coupled with a social media platform, we can expect products that can make the concept of “attracting anyone, any time, from any where around the globe” possible.  Presently, LinkedIn is the only social media hiring database and service provider that claims to make possible for organizations to attract both active and passive candidates from any place, at any time, irrespective of a professional’s employment status. LinkedIn enjoys the luxury of a database of 175 million professionals from over 50 countries and they have made significant inroads into building out social media capabilities into the user interface. This has allowed the company to create a new revenue stream through the LinkedIn Recruiter services. This model, in a number of ways is unique and Oracle’s acquisition signals that competition in this space is likely to heat up soon. Taleo, with more than 20 million live subscribers and presence in over 50 countries will liven up the social media hiring market significantly.

With the hiring service provider market picking up steam, we can expect a string of similar acquisitions rolling out in this space. As a recent Mckinsey report states, the number of companies employing social media for hiring will increase 47% within the next four years. Social media hiring can, therefore, no longer be considered an experiment and companies who jump into the ship later can potentially end up spending significantly high lost opportunity costs.

Social media hiring- The future

Organizations that leverage social media intelligently can expect unprecedented returns in the quality and reach of talent pools.

Much has changed in the last 10 years about how someone looks for jobs. Not until too long ago, a job seeker would open the daily newspaper’s job supplement section, encircle the jobs of interest, note down phone numbers and contact details, and create a list. The more enterprising, perhaps, would go the extra mile― do a Google search on the company, and inquire in his limited personal and professional network to investigate about the company. The territory of job research was limited to publicly available (and often promotional) information on the Internet and word-of-mouth. As Internet penetration deepened, candidates began to realize the benefits of a larger aggregator of jobs― the job portals. Along with the convenience of having everything in one place, job seekers were also saved off the pain of having to note phone numbers, call for appointments, and visit individual company offices to deliver their resumes. The job portals provided a job seeker direct access to job openings from hiring organizations, as well as to a number of job and recruitment consultants. Job portals also offered the convenience of allowing an applicant to create a profile and store their resumes where potential recruiters can view and reach out to the applicant. From the hiring organization’s standpoint, job portals resulted in significant reduction in hiring costs and turnaround times. Trends indicated that job portal usage was more concentrated in the large employment hubs (metropolitan and Tier I cities), while job seekers in other parts of the country largely relied on job newspapers. For a while, both job newspapers and portals co-existed owing to their large consumer base and fairly undeviating search behavior.

Developments of changing demographic behavior and technological innovation have given rise to many changes in hiring workflows and the way jobs are promoted. These trends are largely driven by cloud and social media technologies that are triggering significant changes in behaviors, both of the job seeker and of the hiring organization. Social media is no longer limited in reach; 60% of all new Facebook profiles created in India in the last 6 months were from Tier II cities and the non-urban sector. With the increased ease of information access, job seekers want to know almost everything about the employment experience before accepting an offer, some even before applying. Hiring organizations, on the other hand seek greater intelligence about prospective candidates, owing to their ever increasing need to hire specialized talent.  Another key development is the increasing trend of organizations reaching out to professionals who are not actively looking out for jobs. The industry terminology for such skilled professionals is, “passive” candidates. While organizations can reduce significant cost by tapping into the talent pool for active candidates, the higher value proposition of social media is its ability to tap into the passive talent pool. Organizations, more often, find the right talent for their requirements in the passive talent pool. In the absence of the right information channel and a delivery mechanism to attract talent from this pool, organizations can potentially miss out on significant opportunities.

Irfan Abdulla, Director, Hiring Solutions, at Linkedin India says that they realized the potential of leveraging social media for tapping into the passive talent pool and started Linkedin’s hiring solutions in 2009. Launched in India in the first quarter of 2012, the “Linkedin Recruiter” is their specialized hiring solution, which opens up an organization’s access to 175 million active and passive professionals globally.

The need for tapping into the passive pool

The need for hiring quality talent for executing specific organizational activities has become more pronounced. “Given the current economic climate,” Irfan says, “organizations are not just required to hire the right quality of candidates; they are required to hire quality at scale.” It is possible that the right candidate for a job may not be looking out for a job at the time when an organizational position opens. Also, in the absence of macro-level geographical workforce information, an organization may end up focusing efforts in the wrong geographical talent pool. All of these issues can result in an organization facing in-ordinate delays in filling up critical positions, or selecting the wrong candidate for a position. It is, therefore, extremely important for organizations to track the right information on the following questions:

  1. What are the skills available in the talent market pool at this point?
  2. From where can we source the talent required for the specific role requirements from open positions?
  3. Are there opportunities where we can attract the right candidates that we need in our organization, even though they may not be looking out for a job at this point?
  4. What are the ways by which we can send the right messages to attract this passive talent pool?

The social media imperative                       

Social media, owing to its presence and penetration among global professionals, offers the greatest potential to reach active and passive candidate pools globally. Social media recruiting companies, therefore, will continue to identify newer and more effective ways to gather intelligence and more accurate answers to the above questions. For example, post-login, a user of Linkedin views professional news feeds from the network, and suggestions about groups, associations, and potential jobs.  It sources and delivers targeted content by gathering intelligence from an individual’s professional profile. A hiring organization, on the other hand, can push their employer brand message and current job opportunities to a large pool of active and passive candidates through the platform.

The future of social media hiring

Very soon, organizations failing to realize the full potential of social media will lose the race for sourcing skilled talent. Organizations will soon need to integrate social media recruiting into their strategic organizational mandate and understand what drives talent behavior. Only then will they be able to truly realize the rich potential of social media hiring.