Stealing ideas from LinkedIn

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ideas-header-2The stealing of ideas has a long and storied history. I would argue that it’s fundamental to humanity. You see a neighbor use an iron bar to lever up a rock, and you think, ‘hey, that looks a lot easier than digging! I think I’ll do that.’ Such ‘idea acquisition’ happens all the time in the online recruiting industry – look no further than the many aggregators that sprang up after Indeed launched, or the sudden rash of ’employer rating’ sites in the past few years. In fact, I encourage my clients to keep their eyes open all the time – you never know when you’ll see something somewhere that can be applied to your business. (Please note, however, that I’m not advocating stealing trade secrets – just those great ideas that out there for everyone to see.)

It just so happens that LinkedIn has released a couple of services over the past few months that I consider worth ‘stealing’. The first is Open Candidates. It lets LinkedIn users create a signal that is viewable only to recruiters who use LinkedIn’s premium (paid) tier of service; in turn, recruiters who are looking for candidates will get a signal that a particular candidate is looking to change jobs and is open to being contacted. Basically, the system lets the candidate wave his hand and say, ‘Talk to me!’.

It seems obvious that – in addition to giving recruiters another reason to buy the premium service – Open Candidates is also another attempt by LinkedIn to engage its candidates, most of whom visit the site less than once a month. But think about about it from the candidate’s perspective: it also makes it easier to turn up the heat on a job search without raising concerns from their current employer. (Tim Sackett thinks it’s brilliant!)

Could you use a feature like this on your site? Sure. Most recruiting sites have a mix of active and inactive candidates – but there are not always easy ways to move from inactive to active. Sure, a candidate can ‘hide’ their resume, then ‘unhide’ it – but that’s still more passive than actually ‘waving a hand’ at the recruiter ala Open Candidates.

LinkedIn is also rolling out a new version its Career Pages for employers. Basically, it is a company profile on steroids – an employer page that is customized for the candidate viewing it. As we already know, LinkedIn has lots of data about its members – so Career Pages uses some of this to spit out a company profile for the employer that highlights those things potentially of most interest to the viewer. That’s cool – but probably out of reach for most of my readers for technical and data reasons.

But what’s hidden inside this ‘gee whiz’ idea is a more fundamental one (and one, I might add, that TheMuse has very successfully exploited): employers don’t know how to ‘sell’ themselves. So why not give them a template that forces them to do a good job? A template that walks them through each step? A structure that ensures higher quality output? And – of course – why not charge them for it?

What great ideas have you stolen lately? Let me know!

PS: Don’t forget to participate in the Recruiting Site Global Trends Survey – click here to start!

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