I love LinkedIn. But I do not trust LinkedIn.

For recruiters, it’s obviously a key tool, and clearly a brilliant invention that is part of a seismic shift in the way recruitment works. I wish I had invented it.

But I believe, that for agency recruiters, LinkedIn is not your friend.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to use LinkedIn, and become better at scouring its database for the nuggets that reside therein. We also need to use it for developing client prospect lists, and be sophisticated in building our personal credibility, profile and brand, via status updates and group discussions. That much is a crystal clear, to even dumb old me.

But I do start to get uneasy when LinkedIn is accused of illegally accessing users’ personal email accounts without permission, and subsequently ‘harvesting’ email addresses, which it then uses to send multiple emails that appear to be endorsed by the LinkedIn member. In fact US members of the site have filed a class action complaint, now before the courts. (For the record, LinkedIn deny these claims vigorously.)

Sure, that makes me nervous. But what worries me much more even than this, is that it is obvious that LinkedIn does not care about staffing companies. And I do not trust LinkedIn to act in our best interest. In fact they are doing quite the opposite, right now. While LinkedIn sells its recruitment packages to agency recruiters aggressively on one hand, seducing us to partner with them and eschew other forms of sourcing, they quite blatantly sell the same service to corporates using (and I quote from their marketing literature) lines like…

“We will reduce your agency spend and reliance”

They don’t even try to hide their disdain for our industry, as witnessed by the very blatant threat in their IPO prospectus, which read;

“We believe our solutions are both more cost-effective and more efficient than…… hiring third-party search firms, to identify and screen candidates.”

But even this does not cause me sleepless nights. An enemy identified, with its plan exposed, is possible to beat.

This does though.

I can’t help think that LinkedIn, being as smart as they are, know that 90% of hires are made directly, without agency intervention. They are also fully aware, indeed part of, the trend, for corporates building recruitment strategies that bypass agency recruiters.

It’s obvious then that the real market for LinkedIn is the corporate hiring manager, not agencies at all. That is where 90% of their potential market is after all, and it’s where the market sentiment is too.

Jeff Weiner CEO of LinkedIn laid out the plan as recently as December 2012

“Our vision at LinkedIn is to digitally map every economic opportunity in the world (full-time and temporary); the skills required to obtain those opportunities; the profiles for every company in the world offering those opportunities; the professional profiles for every one of the roughly 3.3 billion people in the global workforce”

The underlining is mine. Is that not clear? They want to own vacancy and job seeker matchmaking, globally. Temporary and permanent. Do you think their plans include keeping third-party recruiters in the game? 

I think not. Recruitment agencies will be road-kill as far as LinkedIn is concerned.

Add to this the fact that LinkedIn is adding new members at the rate of 2 per second. No typo there. That’s two new members – per second!

So if you were in the LinkedIn Boardroom bunker, would it not be clear?

Use agencies as a cash cow while we build our global database, but at the same time deftly seduce corporate hirers as well. Then, when our database is so compellingly strong and filled with the cream of global talent… BAN agency recruiters from our platform altogether!

That’s right. Ban agencies altogether.

Then, what a compelling sales pitch LinkedIn would have for their corporate client base. Their real target market.

“Mr/s. Corporate client we have the largest database of talent on the planet, and no recruitment agencies are allowed to touch them.”

This last part is unashamedly a conspiracy theory. I have no hard evidence to prove that is what LinkedIn plans. No one told me this.

However it is true that I made these exact statements at a recruitment conference in Sydney recently, to an open-mouthed audience listening in horror as I painted this doomsday scenario. And an executive from LinkedIn was in the room when I said all this.

And he was the next speaker at the conference. And I hung around to hear what he would say. Thought it might be entertaining.

It was. But not in the way I thought.

This is what he said;

“I agree with 95% of what Greg Savage said. Now on with my presentation”

No denial. No explanation. No comment at all.

Makes you ponder doesn’t it?

Do you trust LinkedIn? Have your say below.


The Savage Truth UK Masterclass in London is on November 22nd. Join us please.


Views: 3987

Comment by Stephanie McDonald on October 30, 2013 at 2:27pm

Two thoughts, I think if they do RPO it will be at a cost that will keep me in business, looking at their pricing for what I actually get and how often I can't access the network, i'm not concerned at ALL. (note, I'm a contract recruiter) 

Also, I found the lawsuit fascinating. Thanks for sharing, as a user, customer and recruiter, I'm now wondering how many of my personal contacts got requests from me to create accounts. I believe there is another service doing it, but I won't name names since I'm not sure. I always wondered why my retired mom joined recently. 

Comment by Keith Goodwin on October 30, 2013 at 2:34pm

Thanks Ed - I thought that may be what you were referring to but not sure. Recruiter's motto's:  1) adapt or die

2) pick up the phone and remember the basic 'old school' techniques!

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 30, 2013 at 2:44pm

@ Stephanie: Makes sense. LI I hasn't shown signs of trying to be cost-competitive in what they do.

@ Keith G: Ed has a point: How can you pick up a phone when you don't have (and can't get) the numbers to call? Also, I thought this was the Recruiter's Motto: "When you have their money, you never, ever give it back."



Keith H

Comment by Edward N. Woycenko on October 30, 2013 at 3:21pm


Attached is a link http://www.talentkeepers.com/turnover.jsp that describes how TalentKeepers arrived at the $5 Trillion figure.  The number that I mentioned was from the book "Topgrading" in conjunction with this study.  

Comment by Keith Goodwin on October 30, 2013 at 3:43pm

You're absolutely right. I said that instinctively without thinking it through... All the more emphasis to his point!

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 30, 2013 at 3:43pm

Thanks, Edward. Since Talentkeepers is a firm that works with companies to increase retention/lower turnover, they clearly have "a dog in the fight" and aren't objective. Also, a book for business people (in conjunction with the unobjective survey) doesn't strike me as being either rigorous or neutral. Show me some formal, unbiased studies which clearly shows that every time someone leaves a job for any reason, each American takes a $16,000+ hit (or some meaningful equivalent to the $5T figure), and then we can talk...


Keith "Show Me the Unbiased Data" Halperin

Comment by Edward N. Woycenko on October 30, 2013 at 4:04pm

Topgrading is a book on hiring, coaching and keeping "A" players.  Jack Welch adopted concepts discussed in the book while at GE, so I wouldn't discount the TalentKeepers results or the concepts in Topgrading until you have examined the criteria in the survey and have read the book. 

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 30, 2013 at 4:39pm

I recently went to a Linkedin Education Seminar for Recruiters  at HQ.  I was surprised to see that 90% of their focus was uncovering the hidden candidate and getting there first.  Not much was mentioned about the quality of the inmail  (As a matter of fact, their favorite inmail was "Holy Opportunity, Batman!"  which they thought was genius.) , or evangelizing the company, or the process.  Now I get they are all about the identifying aspect but you'll excuse me if I  don't lose much sleep about Linkedin taking my livelihood away.  

Comment by Keith D. Halperin on October 30, 2013 at 4:55pm

@ Keith G: Thanks.

@ Edward:

1) Most companies can't get lots of A players, let alone keep them- they don't have anything A players want; just their self -deluded marketing hype. If you're serious about wanting to keep an A player, then offer them a "multi-year, guaranteed raise/bonus, no-lay-off-without-cause" employment contract. It's "funny" how few companies seem to be "serious" about retention of A players...

2) Are you talking about “global-warming skeptic” Jack Welch or the "Neutron Jack" Welch where GE had lost 100,000 jobs while he was CEO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Welch) while increasing GE’s market value from $14G to $410G? Just because a former CEO with a very mixed record happens to pick up some points which are similar to those in a book, doesn't mean that those points are necessarily valid or applicable to other companies even if they are valid. (It's a similar to when I hear that a rich, famous, and powerful company does something in recruiting: I think it would be advisable for companies who aren't rich, famous, or powerful to either ignore it or do the opposite...) Topgrading may be a very fine book filled with excellent advice, but I think someone shouldn't trust it as being factual or objective, and as I am not a fan of "faith-based recruiting practices" (I believe in cold hard facts whenever possible), I'll prefer to trust the results of a number of otherwise-boring research papers over the claims made by someone who's trying to sell his/her wares..


@ Bill: if they're on Linked In Recruiter, they don't sound very "hidden" to me.







*”Some high-level muckety-muck said it's true or it works, so it must be true or it must work!"

Comment by Bill Schultz on October 30, 2013 at 6:33pm

@ Keith- Good point.  They were talking about using the skills section to find the folks who misspell some key words either by mystake or on porpoise.



You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2024   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service