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