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LinkedIn: moving up – and out?

LinkedInThe recruiting press was abuzz last week with the news that LinkedIn had purchased, a career-focused online learning company. It was the kind of deal that makes stockholders swoon – LinkedIn is ‘broadening’ its revenue streams, is going ‘cradle to grave‘, and so on. Some of this is actually true.

But you know me – I’m interested in how this plays in the job board world. After all, we know that first and foremost, LinkedIn is a job board and career site. It generates most of its money from candidates trying to get jobs, and employers or recruiters trying to get candidates. It also supports a robust ad market – but everything rests on candidates and employers using LinkedIn. Thus the news feeds, slide sharing, ‘thought leaders’, and so on. LinkedIn wants you to live there. Some people do.

Yet I think LinkedIn’s acquisition of signals its not-so-hidden strategy to be bigger than a transactional marketplace for candidates and employers. It wants to the WalMart for your professional life. Need some classes? Go to LinkedIn. How about a new job? Go to LinkedIn. Booking a flight to the next conference? Go to LinkedIn (ok, this is coming next.). In other words, a true ‘cradle-to-grave’ experience.

Don’t believe me? Check out LinkedIn for Higher Education, LinkedIn for high school students (yep, 13 and up), and LinkedIn for retirees. I fully expect to see LinkedIn partnering with the NEA so grade schoolers can learn how to create and leverage their very own LinkedInJr. profile! (Think about how the fast food industry will jump on this source of future new hires.).

I’m not saying this is bad or good – it’s just logical for LinkedIn. They have shareholders who want them to grow, fast, often, and forever. They have their base as a job board to build from – and they have lots of cash and technical talent.

But it does signal a move out of the job board world. Yes, the LinkedIn job board will drive all of this activity – but over time it may become much less important, if these current and future acquisitions pull their own weight. Of course, like Facebook’s fall from favor with its original teenage users, LinkedIn may lose its original audience along the way. Or it may not. Only time will tell.

It may be premature to bid LinkedIn ‘adieu’ from the job board industry.

But I don’t think so.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Post is a quite intriguing read which foretells LinkedIn future that may or may not happen, but the conditions are much same as mentioned. Job boards have to restrategize to show their value and bring applicants to their sites. A lot said already, let’s see what future holds for linkedIn.

  2. I think LinkedIn is in danger of losing it’s sense of purpose, I heard that they are also trying to pull in more manual workers to build a candidate pool for manual jobs advertisers too. There is only a certain amount of revenue to be made out of job advertisements, so it needs to carefully choose partnerships to avoid disenfranchising its original users. I like the comparison of Facebook, which has definitely moved to a more mature audience, of course Facebook and LinkedIn could get clever and market to this change in demographic of their users.

  3. I think LinkedIn has adopted a strategy of following Facebook, but for one’s professionals side of life. That being said, they run the danger of their various services becoming like a lot of Facebook applications – used by a segment of their audience but not the whole audience.

    That being said, here is where that could impact their recruiting success. They sell recruiters on the number of professional profiles they have access to. When the reality is only a “segment” of that population is truly available for that purpose. It results in a lot of work reaching candidates for recruiters only to find these potential candidates are not on LinkedIn for that purpose.

    Everytime a study is produced on Sources of Hire – the most recent being Silkroad’s – LinkedIn consistently is near the bottom of the list as a source of hire and traditional job boards still far outperform LinkedIn in placing candidates in jobs. Could it be this is a result of the focus of job boards on hiring where LinkedIn is all over the map in what it wants to be or do? If it is, then continuing to expand is a multitude of directions is only going to make matters worse for them as a job board, not better.

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