Gone are the days of putting up a “help wanted” sign and choosing the best applicant from a stack of resumes. “Hiring used to be about finding the apples,” said Nishtant Rao, director of business operations and head of global sales strategy at LinkedIn at the MIT Sloan Hi-Tech Conference in Cambridge, MA on Friday. Now it’s about “connecting talent with opportunity.”
LinkedIn’s future is in “leveraging big data for intelligent workforce planning,” said Rao. Since 2003, professionals have not only used the job hunting network to connect with colleagues and fellow alumni; they’ve also used the site as a repository for their resumes. Unlike Facebook, where users go for social activities like status updates, social gaming, and photo sharing; and Twitter, which has become a valuable forum for real-time public communications; LinkedIn’s greatest assets are all the searchable job titles, skills, and connections that employers can use when then they’re scouting for talent.
Just last year, the company’s New York Stock Exchange debut seemed astronomically successful for a social network that no one seemed to like, at least not as a place to hang out and talk to people. But Inc.com writer Geoffrey James now predicts that LinkedIn will outlive Facebook precisely because it’s so utilitarian and uncool. I said as much last year when I compared the company’s quarterly earnings report and some comScore statistics with an informal poll of Internet users.
The LinkedIn community might be a sad little office party compared to the perpetual high-school reunion that is Facebook, but at least you don’t have to wear a suit. And when you’re ready to step outside the cat-videoed walls to talk about how much you want and when you can start, your LinkedIn office will be waiting.
Although only 18 percent of LinkedIn users are actively looking for a job at any given time, Rao said that 60 percent are at least interested in new opportunities. Instead of cold-calling other companies to poach candidates, head hunters can now type a few keywords into the search bar to see who comes up. For the first time, the odds are in favor of the job-seekers, who have a shot of being poached by a rival company before the job listing has even gone up.
“Social media is transforming the way we work,” said Rao, and “the time for action is now.”