Does LinkedIn Pay?

In the approximate year I’ve been on LinkedIn I’ve been invited by recruiters to apply for Human Resource roles twice. My advice is that if you’re using LinkedIn solely to gain future employment, your efforts may best be spend on sites such as monster.com and other leading job boards.

Fortunately most of us aren’t on LinkedIn solely for employment, hence the reason I’m still an active member. The reason why I find LinkedIn valuable is the learning and sharing opportunities it provides. I’ve had rich and diverse conversations with fellow HR practitioners half a world away, supplemented my knowledge with that of more experienced global colleagues, and made fewer errors through learning from the mistakes that others have chosen to share.

Often the selling point of LinkedIn is the recruitment opportunities, which based on my experiences may leave many disappointed. Forget the recruitment aspect, just consider if it happens its a nice bonus, the real gems are in the sharing and gaining of knowledge.

PS. A final quick tip about LinkedIn, it’s a fantastic resource for having a look at the work histories and experiences of selection panel members, something as a HR person I always do prior to going to an interview – and often something I do even before I apply for that next role.

So, what has your experience of LinkedIn been like?

Lies, Half-Truths and LinkedIn

While its not unusual for your one year old, or your pet fish Spike to have their very own Facebook account, the transmission of this at first harmless fun into the professional world of LinkedIn is a growing concern. More and more it seems marketing is overtaking reality, office juniors seemingly become directors overnight, false profiles are built to allow social proofing through one person two profile communications within groups. Blackhat LinkedIn has arrived and is thriving, unethical practices abound and risk the validity of the site and your credibility.

I can understand why this happens, but I haven’t been able to reconcile myself with the fallout that must happen when the recruiter who found you on LinkedIn does some background checks. I doubt anyone really believes that individuals are hired on the basis of their LinkedIn account alone. That MBA you gained from the London School of Business, the school will verify that right? Or when I talk to Susan your former manager at golf this weekend she’ll confirm that you held the position of Director Customer Services right?

Now if people do this and essentially tarnish their reputations I’m not too concerned, however the issue is that the fallout impacts me as well. Every lie on LinkedIn impacts those that are honest. So here are some strategies that I use to establish credibility with visitors to my profile:

The thesis I wrote for my masters degree can be accessed via my profile, not simply a PDF mind you, my link goes to the university I attended and the thesis is accessed through the online public library catalogue system. Alternatively if your university has the graduation program online which has your name and degree listed in it, post a link to that.

My profile is written for the human reader, not the LinkedIn profile ranking algorithm. So often I view profiles that have key words spammed right through them. It doesn’t matter where you rank on LinkedIn search results if every visitor is put off by your content, better to rank lower on page rank and have higher engagement with those visitors that do view your profile. One story of this I should share is of a self proclaimed social media guru. In the first half of this profile was the term ‘social media’ repeated about 30 times, there goes any positive user experience, and frankly if this expert can’t manage their own online presence they’re certainly not going to manage mine.

Avoid temptation, I always try to connect with previous and current managers, just in case I’m tempted to upgrade my last position title.

If you have any further LinkedIn tips, insights or experiences please share them through leaving a comment.

The humble blog, another thread to your résumé?

Currently I actively contribute to approximately 17 blogs on topics ranging from remuneration to employment relations, to strategic HR, and certainly I enjoy sharing my thoughts and reflections on the variety of topics I’ve worked within. There is however another reason for these blogs, it’s about gaining exposure offline. I now include a hyperlink to both my LinkedIn public page, and also to any relevant blogs that I’ve written in my one page resume. These blogs allow me to ignore the ‘rules’ of cover letters or resumes, and focus on having a conversation with the reader, more and more these blogs are becoming a critical aspect of any job applications that I do.

Essentially these blogs provide a kind of link back to myself in the real world, where I choose to establish the link through identifying my blog(s) on resumes or in direct conversation with people. It’s marketing that I can turn on or off, it’s a product that I can promote when the timing is right (for example I cite my remuneration blog when I’m applying for a remuneration role), or select to continue blogging but not make the real world connection if its not to my advantage.

Is this strategy for you? Well I don’t think it’s for everyone, it can be a lot of work when done well and it can also backfire. In the online space often people feel they have a free pass to write whatever they like – however nothing could be further from the truth. A blog that you are potentially going to use in a job application is not the place to put down current or previous employers/employees, and as a rule I don’t speak badly of organisations – I simply don’t speak of them at all. For those that are prepared to put in the effort, and enjoy sharing their knowledge – and maybe even getting a job out of it, I would recommend it (with the aforementioned areas of consideration – once it’s online it’s out in the world and you lose control of it).

As always, keen to hear your take on this, and if you have any experience that you would like to share please do by leaving a comment.

Is Facebook really our friend?

I’ll admit to being one of the billion people on Facebook, however unlike many I don’t want to be found. Why am I on Facebook, a previous girlfriend invited me so how could I say no? I did however take the precaution of misspelling my name to ensure I was not easily found. I have however been found by four other friends, it appears most of friends can’t spell my name anyway so my strategy was not quite as effective as I had hoped.

Facebook has posed a challenge for me, I don’t think my customers or potential customers are there. If they are there then they’re like me trying to make a sale, tip of the day – never try to sell to someone who is trying to sell to you. Also unlike many fellow Human Resource practitioners I don’t believe in rummaging through the personal details of potential hires. While I would put this thought aside if I was involved in hiring an executive who would be taking on a significant public facing role, for the rank and file I just don’t see that I need to know what they did on Friday night, their relationship status or the number of friends they have. I’m an HR person, I’m direct, if I want to know something I’ll ask or trust my own observation.

LinkedIn on the other is fair play, if I’m looking at an application for a role I’m recruiting for, I’ll search for them on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional space, so it has the information that I as a HR guy wants to know. There are however some limitations, as a LION (LinkedIn Open Networker) I know for example that the endorsements functions is merely marketing spin, I have endorsements from people I have never worked with, never met, from countries I have never visited. Testimonials on the other hand are I believe are an okay source of information – however just as referees contacted during the selection process, I wont be making my decision solely on a testimonial.

So, Facebook is undoubtedly big business, but I still can’t get around the feeling that my customers aren’t there. I’ll certainly keep watching the space, but for the time being I’ll leave the spelling of my name the way it is.