LinkedIn, the professional network was supposed to be the “Facebook of business,” a platform for professionals to list their accomplishments and connect with co-workers, past employers and potential employers. LinkedIn is a platform for forming these connections, but it has long struggled to balance 2 hats on its head.
On the one hand, LinkedIn is a social network, meaning that your friends and the pages/companies you follow determine most of the user experience. It also means you can see nearly as many memes, quotes, articles and other content posted on any other social network.
On the other, user profiles are basically in-depth resumes and LinkedIn has been a huge asset to recruiters of all types, who can browse the network for professionals who match the needs of their clients. As most any LinkedIn User can tell you, these recruiters frequently use the network to try and set up meetings, calls or even coffee dates with complete strangers.
Herein lies the problem for the purposes of connecting with top engineers. The user experience is split between the social nature of a social network, which is relaxed, and interacting with recruiters or representatives of companies who may know quite a bit about you, not so relaxed.
For this reason, and others, LinkedIn is showing signs of being tapped out in terms of hiring top engineers and other high profile professionals.
Ease of Recruiter Access
People with extensive, in-demand experience, like senior engineers, are lightening rods for recruiters who are desperate to hire for senior, technical positions. If you ask any talented engineering, data or technology professional, they will tell you that they are approached on a regular basis with different kinds of offers from recruiters.
Whether this is an offer for a job, an interview, a call, or an invitation to become a contact, the pressure driving this offer is the pressure to hire, not interest from the professional in question. Though many LinkedIn users are open to the idea of a new job, many others are not, and dismiss these offers as easily as spam.
Top engineers are focused on their work and many will not be willing to drop what they’re doing and look for a job in a city across the country at a company they’ve never heard of. While this loyalty makes them a great candidate in one sense, it makes them an unlikely candidate for your current needs.
The higher the skill of the engineer, the more inundated they will be with recruiter communications. This saturation makes sourcing a hit-or-miss process in a talent pool where top engineers are used to brushing off interview offers and invitations to lunch.
Job Resource or Social Network?
Though the answer to this question is “both,” the dual function of LinkedIn as a professional resource and a “professional” social network actually hinders both functions. The reason for this and the reason that LinkedIn is a mostly tapped resource for hiring top engineers is that top engineers aren’t getting the full use of either function.
Unlike other social networks, user activity on LinkedIn is highly visible to co-workers and superiors. Nobody wants to say the “wrong thing,” and knowing that what you post reflects on both yourself and your company adds trepidation to the user experience. This experience can turn people off from using the platform for anything but a digital resume, completely ignoring the attempts of companies and recruiters.
For people who use LinkedIn as a purely professional resource, there are issues as well. For one, it can be hard to connect with members of a company you admire out of the blue, and the fact that you have to pay to send these exploratory messages is another barrier for users. Another thing, is that most major companies are active on multiple social media sites, so professionals aren’t forced to use LinkedIn to evaluate potential employers. There are also rare instances of people using LinkedIn more like a dating site than a recruiting resource, which, given the “professional” context, is highly inappropriate.
People use LinkedIn for different reasons, and the ambiguity of the network makes it less effective for finding and hiring engineer talent.
New Tools Emerge
Where LinkedIn is broadly focused, new networking and job seeking solutions are focused on serving specific groups of professionals at different stages of their employment and job searching. Coding challenges are used by many engineers to build their skills and learn new ones, and their employer services make it easy to reach out to top engineers through a platform they love. Niche job boards like EngineerJobs and the National Society of Professional Engineers are sought out by job seeking and casually job-seeking engineers for their selection of interesting job opportunities to explore that are tailored to their careers and interests.
SkillGigs is another tool that engaged engineer talent use to find the right employer for their next job. SkillGigs engineers use 3D resume technology to display their skills, industry experience, skill experience and professional drivers. Engineers who use SkillGigs also list the cities that they are willing to re-locate to and their salary requirements for their next job, greatly simplifying the recruiting process for both candidates and companies. Unlike LinkedIn users, who have multiple reasons for using the site, SkillGigs users create a profile because they are looking for their next career move and want to see what different companies have to offer them.