Last week I ran a post appealing to recruiters not to kill LinkedIn. This was my most viewed post in a single day that i have ever had, and the most shared, so it clearly hit a note. I did not get a single message or comment that disagreed with me, and plenty from non-recruiters remarking that the recruiters really needed to read the post and take note. Spam and irrelevant messages clearly are creating big issues for LinkedIn users. Today, my friend Glen Cathey at the BooleanBlackBelt blog ran a post on a similar theme entitled “Do recruiters ruin LinkedIn?” It seems we are all starting to think on the same lines. I addressed the source and spray approach adopted by some recruiters and irrelevant messaging in my last post. In this post I will be addressing my thoughts on updates and groups, and jobs over populating the feed.

Glens post focussed on groups and irrelevant In-mails, updates and messaging.The big cause for concern from LinkedIn groups is the practice of flooding discussions with jobs, to the point where genuine discussions are lost among them and other product promotions. I manage a few groups on LinkedIn, so I know that it can become a full time job for the manager just removing ads, warning people and removing repeat offenders. In busy groups, the need to vet and approve every member is also time consuming. I addressed the source and spray approach adopted by some recruiters and irrelevant messaging in my last post so I’m not going to cover that again, but the area of groups really got me thinking. Part of the problem is undoubtedly irresponsible and unsociable recruiters, but I also think that part of the problem in groups and updates is caused by the features built-in to the channel which fuel, and in some ways reward anti-social behaviour.

The best recruiter group I belong to is Recruitment Consultants And Staffing Professionals. This group has over 106,000 members, plenty of discussions and 51 comments (last week.) I’ve noticed that LinkedIn have now taken the number of discussions from group stats, listing only comments. I posted earlier this year about how groups had become dominated by discussions with less and less comments. I suspect that this is the reasoning behind why discussion numbers have been taken off group stats. I know that this group is heavily policed by the group owner Jacco Valkenburg, because my first exchange of messages was  when he informed me that my first post contravened the rules of the group because it contained a link at the end of the content to a course I was running. From talking to Jacco, I know he invests a lot of time managing this group. Despite this, when I checked in today I noticed jobs in the discussion stream. It seems that the jobs are getting posted in discussions quicker than the managers can move them.

My reasons for thinking LinkedIn is inadvertently contributing to this is as follows:

> Networking. 

In order to be able to network, search, connect and message as wide as possible it is necessary for users to belong to the maximum 50 groups. No one can engage in all 50, which makes it hard to contribute whilst it is easy to post.

> LinkedIn jobs

LinkedIn jobs on company pages and the channel are charged for. This means that recruiters are more likely to post jobs to updates as links to jobs on external sites. This has 3 results:

Taking people away from the channel.

Not great for PPC or increasing engagement on the channel

Over populated updates in the feed.

This is going to prove counter productive to LinkedIn’s intention to make the channel more social. If the majority of updates are jobs users are going to tune out and stop looking. LinkedIn need an option to post jobs to job updates rather than the timeline. Whilst this offers a free alternative to LinkedIn jobs, which might be the reason for not including it, the benefits from paid for job advertising outweighs this, and a clean feed would be a good thing for both the users and the channel. Only the paid for ads go in to search, recommendation and the referral engine, which will always make them first choice.

Job links in company page updates.

Only paid for jobs appear behind the careers tab on company pages. The result is job links going in to updates which will over populate the page updates and hide other content,. Allowing links being posted to the careers feed would change this for the better.

> Updates to groups

The group update enables sharing in all groups without the need to enter the group. This is great for time-saving, but there is no option to post to jobs in groups as anything other than LinkedIn updates. The net result is that jobs can only be posted in to the discussion section of the group in this way. The option to post to jobs in groups to the jobs section without the need to enter each group individually would help to clear the discussion feed. The other option would be for LinkedIn to integrate an automated update parser that automatically reads updates and links and moves them to the right place in groups or updates.

We all rely on LinkedIn as the sourcing channel, witnessed by the ever-increasing sales for the hiring solutions products. It is in all recruiters long term interests to think about how they are conducting themselves in the channel. At the same time,it is in the interests of the channel to think about how they might be inadvertently be contributing to the problem, and how the good folks in the LinkedIn lab might be able to fix it.

Bill