Last month, over half a million jobs were lost in the USA alone. In the upcoming months, the number is expected to increase — globally.
With hordes of people looking for work and networking opportunities, why is LinkedIn creating upgrades and improvements for its business clients and recruiters?
I understand that LinkedIn needs to make money…just like we all do. But doesn’t the carrot (in this case, the users – the folks who are in, about to enter or out of the job market) have to come before the donkey (businesses seeking consumer feedback and recruiters seeking talent)?
And wouldn’t a massive influx of new users – rushing to network and connect – create a carrot of epic proportions? Imagine doubling or tripling the size of LinkedIn’s user base. How appealing would that be for LinkedIn’s premium users, recruiter clients, and advertisers? The market research value *alone* is mind boggling.
LinkedIn has had plenty of time to prepare for this opportunity. It’s not as if we just started to get clued in about the unemployment numbers, which have been on a steady increase since the beginning of the year. And not just here in the USA either.
I know recently laid-off people who’ve gone to LinkedIn – either as new users or existing users looking to change their status. And it was a challenge. It’s a challenge because the system is not designed for the unemployed. It’s not designed for the self-employed either. It’s not designed for students or those who recently graduated. And it is definitely not designed for mothers who make side money working on the Internet from home. I could go on.
FOR EXAMPLE: Yesterday, I went over to LinkedIn to update my profile. Soon I was “wrestling” with the application to try to get it to do what I wanted and needed. I am a sole proprietor. I am my company. My company is me. I do not have a company name. Yet I had to supply a company name in order to continue updating my profile.
So who is LinkedIn really designed for?
Is it for young adults? Or veteran professionals (as described in the 4 Types of LinkedIn Users)? If yes, then why aren’t there more options for posting references and recommendations? Users should be able to include references / recommendations / kudos from past colleagues, employers, letters, emails, graduate school applications, etc. Even with an enhanced search function, sometimes it is still not easy to locate a reference from 20 years ago – who may or may not be alive today and able to join LinkedIn.
Another example: LinkedIn’s mandatory choices for “How Do You Know So and So?” are narrow and limiting (e.g. Why can’t we have an option for “Other” under Groups and Associations?) as well. The choices do not fully represent real-life situations.
So, to the folks who are designing and “improving” LinkedIn…
- Who is your primary community?
- What does your primary community need?
- What circumstances might lead the members of your primary community to either sign up for the first time or update their profile?
- How does your primary community use LinkedIn?
- Have you asked your primary community members what they want from LinkedIn?
Like anything, the ability to grow depends first on the ability to survive. So, basic needs must be met before indulgent wants. If I don’t fit into LinkedIn’s advertising demographics and LinkedIn doesn’t fulfill my basic needs (to update a profile or change geographic location), does that mean I should look elsewhere for a different business networking platform?
I’ve been a member of LinkedIn for about three years. I’ve always considered it to be a valuable resource. But lately, it feels like LinkedIn and I are starting to grow apart. This was most recently validated when I tried to contact Customer Service “as a user” a number of times with no response. Shortly thereafter I gave LinkedIn another ping “as a business upgrade prospect” and received an immediate reply. So maybe LinkedIn is going through some growing pains of its own. Maybe it’s time for LinkedIn to further refine and hone its business focus so that it matches its own projection of the ideal advertising demographic profile.
In the world of Web 2.0, there’s no such thing as a “lock” on the market or a “defacto standard” product. If LinkedIn won’t meet the needs of the people in this rapidly growing segment – the unemployed – they will go elsewhere. Or more likely – create their own version of LinkedIn.
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