LinkedIn builds innovation in assembly

I’m never entirely sure what I’m meant to do with my LinkedIn profile. Am I trying to advertise my experience in scrum and agile to potential headhunters with fistfulls of dollars in their hands? Am I stalking my friends and colleagues to see what they’re up to in their professional lives?

I’m not looking for a job right now and I’m not inclined to take up stalking as a new hobby. And yet as someone who needs to do recruitment on a semi-regular basis I can see that LinkedIn has a lot to offer. In fact, taking the viewpoint of an organisation’s HR recruiter, I can see the opportunities to do recruitment more efficiently through using the APIs on offer. LinkedIn is applying the web 2.0 pattern of ‘innovation through assembly’ by providing access to it’s data via the LinkedIn application programming interface, and through using the hresume microformat. They even foster a development community by hosting forums, tutorials and sample code. Recruiters can use the APIs to find possible candidates who could be introduced to the hiring organisation by existing staff (trusted connections) as well as offer the facility make it easy for any LinkedIn user to apply for jobs

It’s not just recruiters, the API enables mashup platforms to allow companies (and individuals) to treat LinkedIn as one part of an integrated social networking strategy. They are able to mix in analytics and actions (like posting) from multiple platforms which all offer API access.

Buliding their business model into their API will foster greater innovation. I suspect one challenge for LinkedIn to do this is the need to protect the value they deliver to users. These are users who use the platform for business networking and information sharing; not to be targetted too blatantly by recruiters. If the API were too open to hiring organisations it may take away from this value for individuals. With half of LinkedIn’s revenue coming from hiring solutions, and three quarters of their customers in the fortune 100, it seems the revenue model is driving the lack of openness of the API; it is not the same as other web 2.0 applications which offer innovative assembly, like google maps, ebay or paypal.

As large enterprises become more fluent and confident in web 2.0 capabilities, it may be that over the next while, usage of and platform offerings by LinkedIn will become more innovative. Now, if only it can automagically supply me with some fistfulls of dollars

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14 thoughts on “LinkedIn builds innovation in assembly

  1. LinkedIn seems to be getting better at helping its users supply data in categories which can make better sense of your experiences and qualifications. I’m sure there are some useful e-recruitment solutions that are tapping into the API to get rich insights about the talent that’s out there. I think LinkedIn has set the standard for the digital resume and while there are competitors, it will likely copy or acquire them. The same goes for those services that might tap into their API.

  2. You’re right, the categories are a good step forward but there’s still a lot of variation in text fields to allow people to enter their job titles. I think it’s a good thing, I hate trying to map my job title to what’s usually an american list of standard titles. But it does make data mining more difficult. There’s a great book ‘Mining the Social Web’ (http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920010203.do) that addresses some of these challenges with mining linkedin – eg how to compare people’s titles even though the equivalent job may be entered with all kinds of acronyms and variations.

  3. I like that you pointed out to two different users that LinkedIn hosts. However, I believe that LinkedIn’s API is currently in a good state. What I would like to see personally is more businesses use an “Apply with LinkedIn” feature similar to certain websites that allow you to log in using FaceBook.

    The LinkedIn developer website outlines a few companies that use this feature, but in my experience when looking for work one has to be both proactive and apply everywhere. Although this LinkedIn API won’t cut down the time it takes to write individual cover letters / resumes it does help by cutting down some of the time it takes to apply.

    • That would be great wouldn’t it! It’d be so much easier if there was a common way of viewing and applying for jobs. You could keep track of your applications in progress and know exactly where to apply.

      • I should mention, the developer site for linkedin has the readybuilt code to add an ‘Apply with LinkedIn’ button. But I guess the challenge is that it’s not used widely enough to provide a standard way of applying.

  4. I’m relatively new to using LinkedIn, and was wondering is there a way that employers could use the LinkedIn API to get notifications when people change their profiles? Presuming that these users have allowed them access to their LinkedIn account.

    • I like your thinking. It raises privacy questions but then you can always turn off alerts for when you update your profile so that your employer doesn’t have to know that you’re updating your cv in readiness to make the jump:) You can do this with your connections without using the API, but I’ll take a look at the api to see if this can be automated and aggregated.

    • I think some applications like that already exist. At least I know I get e-mail once in a while with changes people have done, so I would think you should be able to follow someone, but like I said. I’m not sure

      • I guess it’s more of a connections thing – like networking. But I mean, a lot of people do use it as an online resume. I know at our work when we were recruiting web dev’s, that they checked everybodys LinkedIn profile.

      • Yes, I’ve found it great for checking for applicants work history before going to interview stage. Actually what I found most useful was checking how I was connected to them, it helped me get a sense of what work they’ve done when we’ve got a mutual connection. But I still want to push myself to do more, I think I can get better at finding candidates to apply by using the application better. Web devs are an indemand skill, did you have any challenges getting good people to apply?

  5. You continue to supply great posts on every topic we cover, having never used LinkedIn before i think you explained it rather well. You made it clear that there are two user groups which did make it easier to understand. You have inspired me to investigate further into LinkedIn, have you any other interesting web.20 derived sites for me?

    • Thanks so much Nicholas. I’ve been keeping a list of the web 2.0 apps I’m discovering along the way (thanks for introducing me to pipes by the way). It’s on my apps page – there’s a link just under the picture at the top of the page.

  6. As a new user to Linked In, it was great to read a blog that highlighted another side of Linked In that I wouldn’t have thought of. I believe that API could potentially help me and others gain better opportunities in getting a job. However, I won’t just use Linked In as the only source for potential new employment. I know there are other ways still available.

  7. I have been a Linkedin user for quite sometime and never realized how powerful or interactive their software and APIs are. My network has substantially grown and I can see where the integration of Web 2.0 into the recruiting arena is making this company a valuable part of the websphere.

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