Is LinkedIn the future of job boards? Maybe…or maybe not

The folks at LinkedIn have been busy lately, rolling outnew features, connecting with their users at the LI conference, and busily expanding their empire in all directions. Some pundits are proclaiming that LinkedIn is really the next step in recruiting – aka, job boards 2.0 (or more).

Well? Is LinkedIn the future of job boards? Maybe:

  • They have equaled or eclipsed the biggest general job boards such as CareerBuilder and Monster – with a publicly accessible (more or less) resume database married to a social network.
  • They’ve created ingenious ways to lure employers into spending more on LinkedIn simply to increase their employer brand…on LinkedIn. Admit it – a brilliant move.
  • They’ve monetized both candidates and employers – without the backlash that’s occurred on other sites such as TheLadders
  • They’ve taken Indeed’s PPC model and adapted it – so that employers bid on the jobs shown to candidates’ pages (but of course you can still buy LI job postings, in case you were wondering)
  • They’ve gone further than any other industry player in creating a universal apply button that can be placed on job ads (and which, of course, conveniently uses the candidate’s LI profile)
  • And last but not least – they continue to generate significant revenue andinvest in their technology. How many job boards are doing both?

However, as you may have noticed from the headline, there is another side to this story. Is LinkedIn the future of job boards? Maybe not:

  •  The massiveness of LinkedIn could play against it – remember the rise of niche job boards against general boards? Already we are seeing what I call ‘mini-LinkedIns’ for specific professions and communities.
  • As the size of networks grow, the quality of those networks has a tendency to decline. Really – do you know all 757 people in your network?
  • The lack of activity by most LinkedIn members continues to be a drag on its effectiveness for employers. I don’t expect this to go away.
  • Adoption is not universal by candidates (or, for that matter, employers). It never will be – and it will always be more popular in some professions than others.
  • Publicly-held companies are typically less nimble and innovative than smaller, privately-held ones. Thus far LinkedIn has avoid this fate – but it remains an ongoing hazard for LI (and an opportunity for competitors).
  • Is LinkedIn an ATS? Well, no…and yes. Nevertheless, it wants to be. Therein lies the problem. (Go ask any job board that has tried to provide ATS services to employers – it ain’t easy).

Is LinkedIn a competitor to existing job boards? You bet.

Is LinkedIn the future of job boards? Maybe – but maybe not. My advice? Don’t ignore LinkedInSteal the good ideas. And pay attention to your customers.

Views: 2295

Comment by Dan Hunter on October 24, 2012 at 9:47am

And help you have.  I shall now continue the journey of dialing for dollars richer in the knowledge of stackoverflow and the aptly named 'github'.

Comment by Jerry Albright on October 24, 2012 at 9:47am

Dan - do you use Github? Have you been there?

Comment by Bob McIntosh on October 24, 2012 at 9:48am

Dan, @#$#*&^ right I'll tell my customers (jobseekers who come to the career center, in part, because they're opening a claim or re-upping one) who are very qualified but just happen to find themselves on the end of a lay off from Raytheon, Kronos, BAE, Evergreen Solar, and a slew of other companies who are either losing funding or closing their doors. I know the trend is to hire people who are currently working, but there are some fine people who are just important. I'm not a liar and I'm not a fool. Furthermore, I'm not your or Jerry's competition.  I also know when to leave the party. 

Thanks for the article, Jeff.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on October 24, 2012 at 9:58am

Everyone isn't focused on IT recruiting. Maybe linkedin isn't the best place fot IT but it still works for those who are receruiting in other spaces. I just hate that it IS becoming more of a job board than just netowrking. Now they want to charge you if you view a certain number of profiles or connect with certain people. It's losing it's "networking" appeal.

Comment by Stuart Musson on October 24, 2012 at 10:01am

Great article Jeff...

@Jerry - I completely agree with you and the direction that LinkedIN has gone recently and I am finding top talent outside of LinkedIN. Although I am not throwing LI out as one of the sources to utlilize. Just like I do not throw out the resume databases (Monster, Workopolis, dice, etc) either as there are some talented peollpe posting there as well. A well balanced approach is needed in these times!

Comment by Jeff Dickey-Chasins on October 24, 2012 at 10:17am

I suspect that LI is redirecting its focus to direct employers and away from 3rd party recruiters. It of course has always had both, but I'm betting direct employers provide a lot more $$ for the company.Just a supposition.

Comment by Jerry Albright on October 24, 2012 at 10:21am

Many/most agency recruiters have pushed the "free" factor as far as it can go on Linkedin.  We pay for one account (out of5 recruiters) and that is about as far as I plan to go with it.

Comment by Tiffany Branch on October 24, 2012 at 10:23am

Part of my job and what I am known for is reducing cost per hire so I'm ALWAYS trying to find ways to eliminate/reduce the use of third party recruiters and other costly methods.

Comment by Lonny Gulden on October 24, 2012 at 2:08pm

Unfortunately, LinkedIn continues to erode the basic membership functionality while adding functionality on their premium memberships. This may be a great short term strategy for growing revenue, but will ultimately stifle growth of their user base which is the key to long term success (IMHO).

Comment by Navid Sabetian on October 24, 2012 at 8:59pm


I think Linked In is more of a bubble than the future of job boards. I currently have 16,000 connections on linked in, many recommendations and endorsements, have been a user of it pretty much from the beginning and have been a paid member since they introduced paid membership.

There are several reasons why linked in is not as good as it used to be or that linked in will not replace job boards and I will list a few of them below

1) Their search engine has been put together very poorly. Most technical recruiters that I know use google to search linked in (I can expand on this if needs be)

2) Their internal features are ridden with bugs. For example I have not been able to access my inbox items for 6 months, lodged several support tickets and despite being a paid member I am yet to hear back from them.

3) Many candidates exaggerate their profile and some outright lie on their profile which has pretty much repelled some employers to even use this media.

4) Remember the reason behind Linked In (and the reason many candidates join it) is not find jobs. It is to network with professional peers, join discussions and be made aware of events in their industry. Finding a job is a sidekick for them not the main agenda

5) Remember when in late 90s Monster job boards came along many commented that this will be the future of finding jobs and everyone else will either go out of business or will have a far less presence? Lo and behold more than 14 years later recruitment agencies have a rather stronger presence in the market and besides Monster you have got many other job boards, online databases as well as social media such as linked in. If monster was in fact the future of recruiting these other avenues pretty much would either not exist or will not be as strong as today.

I don't think Linked In will be the future of job boards.


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