Is LinkedIn Becoming a Job Board?

Is LinkedIn a social networking site, a job board, or a little of both?

Most people consider LinkedIn to be a social networking site, or more specifically a professional network service. LinkedIn describes itself as an “interconnected network of experienced professionals.” However, when I take a step back and take an objective view of LinkedIn, I see a great deal of “job board” functionality with some social networking features.

Before you cry “blasphemy!,” let’s do some research and look at the facts. 

What Exactly is a “Job Board?”

I tried doing some research to find a definition of exactly what a “job board” is, and found that Wikipedia considers Monster, Careerbuilder, Hotjobs, Dice, etc. to be employment websites. According to Wikipedia, an “employment website” is “…a web site dealing specifically with employment or careers. Many employment websites are designed to allow employers to post job requirements for a position to be filled and are commonly known as job boards.”

Common Features of Job Boards

According to INTERNET Inc, “job boards are usually free for job seekers though there are some exceptions mostly in the realm of upper management and executive jobs. Job ads can usually be found by browsing or through search on keywords, job type and location. Employers usually pay a fee to post job ads… Most job boards also offer employers resume database access for searching out candidates that match specific criteria. Additional services offered by job boards to employers often include: job agents that alert recruiters by e-mail to newly published job seeker resumes that meet specific criteria, …and brand building advertising with e-mail campaigns, banners, buttons and company profiles.”

What LinkedIn Says About LinkedIn

I did some digging and found LinkedIn’s press site. Under the heading of “What is LinkedIn?,” you can read that “When you join, you create a profile that summarizes your professional expertise and accomplishments.”

That sounds a lot like writing a resume.  

Reading further, LinkedIn says, “Through your network, you can:”

Reviewing those bullets, I see a mix of finding and being introduced to a variety of people, facilitating business, and posting jobs.

Towards the bottom of their “About Us” page, LinkedIn further explains, “We also offer a premium version of your accounts that give you more tools for finding and reaching the right people, whether or not they are in your network.”

Hmmm…paying to search through profiles detailing professional expertise and accomplishments…why does that sound so familiar? Oh – I know! It sounds remarkably similar to paying Monster or another job board for the ability to search for resumes. 

Job Search

If you’ve never used LinkedIn to search for jobs, you may be surprised to see how robust their job search functionality is.  Here is a screenshot of a search for the keyword “accountant.” You can see the first 4 jobs that are listed as “LinkedIn Jobs.”  Notice, however, there is another tab labeled “The Web.”

If you click on “The Web,” you get taken to job search results for your keywords from SimplyHired, which is a “vertical search engine” company that is working to build “the largest online database of jobs on the planet.”

I think that’s a pretty cool feature – to be able to search for jobs using the LinkedIn interface and have the option to expand the results to jobs from outside of LinkedIn from the Internet. An especially nice feature for job seekers is the “Jobs insider” – which allows you to explore people you may already be connected to inside of the companies who posted the jobs you’re reviewing.

Pretty powerful and extensive job search functionality for a “social network,” wouldn’t you say? 

LinkedIn Hiring Solutions

While you certainly don’t have to pay to be able to search Linkedin for candidates, LinkedIn does offer premium “Hiring Solutions:”

Hmm…let’s see – “find the best job candidate fast,” “post a job today,” “find more candidates,” and “empower your corporate staffing team.” Is it just me, or doesn’t that sound like job board speak?

Would you like to see more? Here we see exactly how many candidates you can see per search at each price point, as well as how many saved alerts you can get to “deliver a weekly list of new qualified candidates.”

What’s Your Verdict?

Now that you’ve seen all of the evidence, what’s your verdict?

Conclusion

LinkedIn is definitely not an “employment website,” because it is not a website that deals “specifically with employment or careers.” There is no doubt that LinkedIn is used HEAVILY for employment/career related activity – I’ve seen estimates of 500,000 + recruiters on LinkedIn (click here for the results of a simple search for a few common recruiting and HR titles yielding 545,000+ results). However, LinkedIn is certainly not restricted to, nor solely defined by employment/career related activity, as employment websites are.

LinkedIn undeniably has some very cool and useful features that job boards don’t offer, including InMail, recommendations, network connections (being able to see the people other people are connected to), groups, Answers, etc.

However, when we compare many of LinkedIn’s people search (free and premium), pay-for-job-posting features, and LinkedIn’s own self-description to Internet Inc’s definition of job boards, there is a striking similarity:

  • Free for job seekers
  • Job seekers can browse through or search for jobs based on on keywords, job type and location.
  • Employers pay a fee to post job ads
  • Employers and recruiters can pay for access to search for candidates that match specific criteria
  • Search agents can be configured that alert recruiters by e-mail to newly published profiles that meet specific criteria
  • Companies can use LinkedIn for brand building with company profiles

My verdict is that I think that LinkedIn is essentially a job board in a social network’s clothing – which is not a bad thing! “Job board” is not a four letter word – job seekers need to find jobs, research employers, etc., and companies need to find quality talent – this will never change. I think LinkedIn basically beat the traditional job boards to the punch by having all of the standard job board functionality PLUS a buch of cool social networking features.

LinkedIn was smart – they built the social network first, people came, THEN they added in the job board functionality.  Brilliant!

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About Glen Cathey

Glen Cathey is a sourcing and recruiting thought leader with over 16 years of experience working in large staffing agency and global RPO environments (>1,000 recruiters and nearly 100,000 hires annually). Starting out his career as a top producing recruiter, he quickly advanced into senior management roles and now currently serves as the SVP of Strategic Talent Acquisition and Innovation for Kforce, working out of their renowned National Recruiting Center with over 300 recruiters. Often requested to speak on sourcing and recruiting best practices, trends and strategies, Glen has traveled internationally to present at many talent acquisition conferences (5X LinkedIn Talent Connect - U.S. '10, '11, '12, Toronto '12, London '12, 2X Australasian Talent Conference - Sydney & Melbourne '11, '12, 6X SourceCon, 2X TruLondon, 2X HCI) and is regularly requested to present to companies (e.g., PwC, Deloitte, Intel, Booz Allen Hamilton, Citigroup, etc.). This blog is his personal passion and does not represent the views or opinions of anyone other than himself.

  • http://www.sourcecon.ning.com Jeremy Langhans

    NO.

    The Linkedin Job Board is just a minor % of the web pages that make up the portal. Yes, their Job Board is a Job Board, BUT that is only 1 of the goals of the site. Of course; it is the only goal that matters to us “Sourcers”.

    LinkedIn is an interconnected network of experienced professionals from around the world, representing 170 industries and 200 countries. You can find, be introduced to, and collaborate with qualified professionals that you need to work with to accomplish your goals.

    ROFL
    Great post none-the-less.

    Jer
    http://www.visualcv.com/EXECSOURCER

  • http://davidgrazianostaffing.blogspot.com Dave Graziano

    Glenn,

    Great Post! LI is not the job board of the future. The job board of the future will need to have deep search ie Google, the Job Posts, the Profile/Resume and be real time interactive ie Twitter and a very user friendly email tool.

    That is my take.

  • Boolean Black Belt

    Thanks Jeremy. I can always count on you to provide a good counter-point. Keep them coming – it keeps me sharp!

    I’m going to have to stay on my side of the fence on this one, however. :-)

    #1 100’s of 1000’s of HR, sourcing, recuriting, and executive search professionals use LinkedIn as a passive candidate database (with many profiles as complete as resumes)

    #2 100’s if not 1000’s of corporations and staffing agencies use LinkedIn to post jobs

    #3 Perhaps millions of people (passive and active job seekers with a LinkedIn profile) use LinkedIn to research companies and look for jobs

    From my perspective, LinkedIn is 50% job board, 50% social network. If they didn’t try to monetize via the recruiting channel, this would likely not be the case. So don’t blame LinkedIn – blame the need/desire to generate profits.

    While 500,000+ HR/recruiting professionals represent a fraction of the total LinkedIn population, I’d argue that they actually USE LinkedIn more (# visits, time on site, etc.) than the average “Joe’s and Jane’s” who use it for “social networking” only without any career angle whatsoever.

  • Karen

    I think the juxtaposition of networking, technology, and Web 2.0 has simply outgrown many already dated terms such as “job board”. Perhaps it is a dynamic job board or an interactive candidate pre-screening tool. Who knows – let’s just see where it goes and manage the ethics of how it is used.

  • ABCxyz

    I agree Glen.. LI is more of a Job Board… Good marketing strategy.. started as a social networking with a plan of earning profits :-)

  • Rachel

    Linkedin was voted as one of the top 3 job boards where job seekers got the best results (from about.com)-

    http://www.linkedin.com (networking for professionals)
    http://www.indeed.com (aggregated listings)
    http://www.realmatch.com (matches you to the perfect jobs)

    For those looking for work, good luck!

  • Joshi

    HI,

    Linkedin is good Networking website, since we are working in Recruiting was are able to see linkedin as Job portal only. We always love to see as we like to.

    I think only less % of the website is JOb portal, it used as good networking tool for technical solutions. When i have checked with a software engg: “do you look at Jobs posted in Linkedin” they said that they dont even know that jobs will be posted in Linkedin. They used linkedin to get connected to people in there own skillset and check with them if they need some solution and answer.

    Regards,

    Joshi.

  • DubepipmemTab

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  • http://www.mygr8blog.com Sandeep Patil

    Very nice and informative post indeed. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers,
    Sandeep

  • Pingback: Recruiters Account for 1 in 20 U.S. LinkedIn Profiles | Boolean Black Belt

  • http://www.staffingtalk.com gregg dourgarian

    Looks like a duck…

    Enjoyed the post and would like to see an elaboration of what commenter Karen calls for – an evolved vocabulary for social networks and how they relate to job search.

    I don’t get Dave Graziano’s comment that LI can’t be a job board in the future because it lacks certain features. He may be right but what keeps LinkedIn from evolving to have those features?

  • Julie Montgomery

    Glenn,
    You’re stirring the pot again. If somebody calls LInkedIn a job board, my guess is that this person joined LinkedIn within the last 5 years. Wasn’t it about 10 years ago that it all started? When we started with it, that was a great vision, but not what we were using it for. We were using it to figure out “who was who” mostly so we could market into customers.

    Nowadays, when our company goes on a sales call, I know the potential customer looks up our employees on LinkedIn.

    When I interview somebody, most candidates view my profile before meeting with me.

    It’s an awesome social networking tool. Smart recruiters know how to use social networking tools to recruit.

    Jules

  • http://www.thetruconferences.com BillBoorman

    Great post and twitter argument on the subject, my view is a bit different.
    I think linked in is a social network which is being used, on the whole as a job board. It could be argued that this makes it is in fact a giant on-line directory of profesional services, as Linked in is used as much by profesionals for non-job/recruiting activity as it is for this purpose. I know sellers of all kinds of services that are doing this.
    Just recently I have been looking at the part Linked In plays in community building. It is interesting to note the Recruitingblogs.com has about 30,000 members on the Ning Network and 100,000 in the Li group. The % of active members is also a little higher in Li.
    The questions and polls make networking much easier and there are 1000’s of groups with active posting and strict rules on not posting job’s or adverts outside of the designated places. I belong to a few that are very active, and use LinkedIn to message more than e-mail.
    Many recruiters need to learn these functions to build “talent networks” in this platform.
    Far from a Job Board in my opinion.

    Thanks Glen

    Bill

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    Well, the majority of the 186 people who responded to the poll seem to indicate that most people think LinkedIn is at least 50/50 job board/social network – a total of 73%.

    No one can deny that LinkedIn has paid job posting, structured job search functionality (they’ve partnered with SimplyHired for crying out loud!), and premium pay-to-search-for-and-message-people.

    Of course LinkedIn is also a social network, with groups, Q&A, etc., but lets be honest – LinkedIn is the least “social” social network (as long as you remove recruiters from the equation). :-) Check the web analytics/visitor data.

    I’d love to see some stats on LinkedIn regarding the average number of connections and the amount of people who create a profile and never come back – this data exists for Twitter, but I haven’t been able to find it for LinkedIn. Anyone?

  • http://www.thetruconferences.com BillBoorman

    I’m not suprised by the result of your poll Glen, but i’m not sure how many people visit that are not recruiters. This might skew things a bit.
    I agree it is least social because it is largely business based and lacks the “instant” element of twitter or facebook.
    I’d be interested in looking at how many posts are made in groups daily, how many questions get answered or sent out, how many polls get voted on, slide share presentations viewed and how many new connections happen each day. This could be compared to jobs posted as a comparison.
    Linked In is massively under used by recruiters. take a look at all the applications available and use a few. change your status every few days (you don’t need to leave tweetdeck to do this.), use box.net to embed any document in your profile. feature your blog (don’t just list it.) Add slideshare presentation and video (using google docs) to your profile. Set up an RSS feed to filter questions in to your in box so that you can answer the target one’s, gain subject expert status and make new connections.
    These are my tips of social things you can do that enables much more social activity in linked In. Be glad to help anyone that wants any help on this.
    Bill

  • http://www.booleanblackbelt.com Boolean Black Belt

    Bill,
    I am in no way, shape or form denying all of the social functionality built into Linkedin – as you detailed them – they’re all there.

    I totally agree that many recruiters use LinkedIn like a job board (post jobs, search for candidates) – but there’s nothing bad/wrong with that.

    I will also say I believe that the “average Joe/Jane” who is NOT a recruiter doesn’t really use much, if any of LinkedIn’d social functionality, as evidenced by the LARGE percentage of people who create a minimalist profile, have < 10 connections, and don’t come back to LinkedIn often (or at all).

    If you check out data for the “Big 3″ social networks on sites like Compete.com. you will see LinkedIn has the lowest # of unique visitors per month (and it appears only half of all people with LinkedIn profiles return at least once a month).

    There’s no denying all of the available social functionality of LinkedIn, but I would still argue that 50% of the people visiting LinkedIn use it primarily for facilitating employment in some way (from the job seeker side – it is a “professional” network, after all) and that 50% use it for just being social.

    And just because there are tons of jobs posted on/via Twitter – it does not a job board make, IMO. I do not believe that many people eschew searching for jobs on Google, Indeed, SimplyHired, and the major job boards and instead decide to search for jobs on Twitter.

    Somebody please show me information otherwise.

    Bill – as always, I LOVE the dialogue. There is no ground gained or critical thought that comes from everyone always agreeing with each other. Let’s continue to push the ball forward!