November 3, 2021

How LinkedIn Lost Its Way


Episode Highlights

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“Every time I log into LinkedIn Recruiter, part of me dies inside.”

-Jeff Smith

When it launched in 2008, LinkedIn Recruiter was a game-changer for recruiting. A worldwide company directory that could source damn near any hire? We take it for granted what recruiting was like before that.

Since then?

Massive time suck for recruiters. InMails spam machine for end users. And limited af integrations.

And now recruiters (and job seekers) are going elsewhere.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick break down where things have gone south.

Episode Transcript

All right, everybody. The 10 Minute Talent Rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent is our ongoing series, where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition, hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two, maybe not this week. I don’t know.

Before we dig in all of content can be found on The topic, how LinkedIn lost it’s way. I guess before we start two quick shout outs, we were planning this show, and the promotional things, and also saw a few things that I, a couple ideas that actually weren’t originally ours, but they actually made a lot of sense.

So we’ll get to those later, but, Michelle Mehlis our colleague had some excellent insights on this. And so did Chris Walker as he always does. So want to just throw that out there. So we’re not being accused of being content thieves anyways. Yes. Michelle had feelings. So, LinkedIn has made career searching a lot easier.

It’s I think the most disruptive technology and recruitment tech since maybe the online ad, maybe that maybe even trumps that, I don’t know. I said it on the employer content show. It’s the greatest sourcing tool of all time. Which is why this show today is so hard. It’s like breaking up. I know, it’s fallen behind in ways that aren’t obvious to experienced recruiters.

You’re so used to it. It’s kind of like when you have a friend who kind of like, you know, put on a weight over the years and it’s not until you go back and look at those old, old pics that you realize like, Ooh, something happened here. Jeff, what’s your, what’s your take on.

Pains me to say the line.

That really was the start of all this, but every time I log into LinkedIn, Well, part of me, dies inside. That’s the way

it is. So I did a poll last week talking about this. I wanted to see what everyone’s thoughts were and it was kind of what I expected. It was, it was really easy. LinkedIn recruiter, users.

So we’re kind of talk about LinkedIn recruiter specifically. What’s your satisfaction with the product and the LinkedIn recruiter is like the advanced version that recruiters use. It’s far more in depth. People who aren’t recruiters don’t even realize what it does or that it exists. It was kind of a standard bell curve.

So high was like 22%. Mid was 60 low was 18. I defined that as 22% of people thought it was great. You know, the mid people thought kind of sucks, but it still gets the job done. And the lowers says this completely terrible. So what’s kind of happening here. Every time we’re on a prospective call and I’m sure every recruiter out there is gonna agree with this.

People always ask is where you find your candidates. Right. And you know, just one Hirewell we have senior staff. We, people we’re really good at like gathering referrals. We have people who know their networks know that like that’s, that’s one thing that we have second, like got our internal database.

Sure. Every recruiting firm out there has their own internal databases that don’t integrate with LinkedIn. And third, like everyone else, we got LinkedIn. Cause let’s be honest. Like you either have that or you have like the LinkedIn knockoff, which isn’t really any better. Everyone’s using the same shit.

Some people use it better than others. There’s no silver bullet out there yet stay tuned, but they’ve successfully created a near monopoly in the recruiting space while simultaneously making it less and less useful every year that passes while making it more expensive at the same time. What’s it digging it out a little more.


I mean, at the end of the day for the user, it’s a colossal time suck. I mean, massive time.

Suck by user. You mean recruiters specifically? I am talking about recruiters yes to

reclarify. This is really this centers around LinkedIn recruiter and maybe to stomach. To the sales folks out there, some sales navigator, although we use that as well.

Everything you do is manual. So each search has to be to tediously changed. So that you’re kind of, you’re hoping to guess like what the algorithm is going to spit out, which is the exact opposite. I think of what an algorithm is supposed to do. There’s no way of doubt downloading any of your work.

So if you like even wanted to share this stuff, Yeah, so you can share it with the other paying seats. I E the other people who have LinkedIn recruiter, seats, or sales navigator seats, and it’s even worse, it has to be the same seat you can’t share between sales navigator and LinkedIn recruiter. It’s annoying.

And if you want to like, keep any of this stuff, you’ve got to prepare your own spreadsheet. Meaning every single piece of those profiles, every single detail that’s important to you. It’s not easily consumed in a, in a regular format. And by extension, you just got to put your own stuff together. I could go on and on about how non-collaborative a tool, both of these things are LinkedIn recruiter, sales navigator, specifically.

Secondly, again, parlance of our times, like the DEI stuff is a big problem. Integrate labor statistics at a minimum like.

Why are we not doing that? That seems like something that their team would be able to do. Like in a day’s work. Like I have clients of mine that do that themselves. You know what I mean?

How is LinkedIn not doing they’re data clients mind you, but still it’s like, it’s not like, yeah, I

totally agree. Like people are literally using the eyeball test for this. I, I’m not saying it’s provocative, but this is not. Something crazy like that in and of itself is a massive issue that that has to stop.

We have this huge push rightfully to be a more inclusive society to like push the boundaries of like making sure all avenues are equal, et cetera. And the biggest player in the game makes it incredibly difficult. For that

to happen zero help everyone else says is making tools at least like is attempting to at least anyways.

Yeah. But integrations, I mean kind of what you’re talking about, like sharing work and stuff like that, like I thought it integrated with nothing I was corrected. Okay. It’s got some integration with greenhouse. I hate admitting I was wrong about something. But. I mean, we’re in the world of like web services.

Everything’s open source. These guys have like, their APIs are basically non-existent and it’s by design. I think like, think about the amount of resumes you have backlog from before and your database it’s on your drive or whatever. How can. Why can’t when you search LinkedIn, it also searched those exact same resumes at the same time.

Like this is not that hard of a problem to figure out and overcome. It’s just, they like having one comprehensive search engine that takes everything like the amount of money you’re paying these guys, like it’s possible. They just don’t want to do it. And therefore that’s why companies have backlogs and backlogs of resumes that no one ever hears back once they submit them to, because no, one’s even by the searching them because you have to go through two completely different search processes as a recruiter.

Yeah, no, I mean, the answer is simple. It’s money. It’s you? You would, you would. How dare we be able to, even, even if we were given the option to download. The individuals that gave us positive responses on our messaging out. So like on our, it’s called an InMail. Everybody kind of knows that, but when you send it on a LinkedIn recruiter, just give us the positive ones and let us put it into our database repository.

Like it’s, we’re not even asking for the, for the ones that, that declined for whatever reason. It just it’s insane. We’re old. Well, middle-aged old, right? Me and you. Um, so like we’ve had this at like, the apathy has grown over time, but like we talked about like early on this thing was like, I mean, it was revolutionary.

I actually changed the game. Right. But like little by little, like, yes, I’m still very reliant on it. And I, you know, I go through my day to day, whatever, like the youngs?. They literally think we’re crazy. They’re like, why are we using this? I, I had a, I had a one-on-one with a younger teammate and she literally looked at me and said, this is nuts.

Why are we doing this? Yeah.

Cause like, we’ve become institutionalized. We’ve been using it too damn long to realize how ridiculous it is. But yeah. Yeah.

I mean, We can say what we want and Slack and, and Reddit and chat rooms and other Discord, these sorts of things like they weren’t built for recruiting, but like make no mistake.

These communities are figuring out ways to utilize those platforms to socialize. And if like, none of it was designed to do any of that. And people are still going there. Like LinkedIn done F’d up.

Right. It’s the amount of shade that gets thrown. Like we’re talking most about LinkedIn recruiter, but the LinkedIn, like social product is just as culpable with this entire thing, because there’s a reason why the content like they reward crappy content.

Yeah and stuff. That’s just self-congratulatory that doesn’t actually say anything, which means real conversations no longer happen there anymore. So if you want to have a real conversation, like a networking group, you end up going somewhere else. And that’s where real recruiting starting to happen. And good anyways, back to, so I wanted to talk about this too, is.

There’s no transparency in how the search algorithm works, because we kind of talk about it a minute ago. So like the algorithm that recruiters would use to search on there was no transparency with the actual end users, meaning job seekers and how that specifically works. Meaning. They have no idea what in their profile is important or not important, what they need to fill out.

Like every time you see a post or a webinar talking about this or resume writers that offer services around, like fixing your LinkedIn profile. People eat this stuff up because like, they don’t know what to do with it. They don’t know how to do it. Like Ryan and I did a presentation put together. Like we actually gave job seekers, a couple of guest webinars where we gave them the ability to see what we see on LinkedIn recruiter.

I’ve never gotten so many questions and comments on something. Because it was all like, it was like a light bulb went off for everyone. And I’m not saying that cause like we were that amazing. I’m saying it because like they’ve done such a poor job of actually explaining to people what’s important and why, and now that’s frustrating for job seekers, but it should be equally frustrating for recruiters because there are absolutely people out there that fit those jobs.

You’re trying to fill that. You’re not finding in any of your searches because people don’t know how. Match their profile in a way that’s going to get picked up by the search algorithm

and there may be people out there that like, haven’t put it in for whatever reason, because they don’t need to, but there’s more people who have tried and given up because they’re still not soliciting the types of responses from recruiters that they think that they should get, because we’re all, if they’re telling you we’ll optimize it this day, optimize it this way, then they get no response.

Yeah. Meanwhile, the same 30 to 40 people get just pummeled for whatever reason, because it’s in a black box. So nobody knows I’m just getting hammered. So

instead of doing that, what have they been doing?They’ve been monetizing spam. Yes. That’s been the focus of LinkedIn and LinkedIn recruiter for the past 10 years. Their revenue model is in a direct contradiction to the user experience.

Like everyone talks about how you just get bombarded with, they’re not just incentivizing recruiters and salespeople to send as many InMails as possible because that’s how they make their money. I mean, they’re literally putting ads and you’re like, nobody wants an ad in their inbox. Like that’s how little they give a crap about their users that they’re, they’ve taken it that far.

And it’s just, it’s, it’s insane to me that instead of actually like making it more focusing on the user and allowing revenue to fall into place, they’re trying to make it as awful as possible. Yeah.

I know what I get and it’s it. Can’t it’s it has to be 5% the frustration of like a software engineer, right.

It’s just like, not even close. So anyway, we’re way over. Yeah. Who cares? This is all going on, LinkedIn and hope they watch it. I’m like, look, we as a profession, just need, we need to move on. If this thingcan’t.If the platform can’t evolve and can’t get past its own barriers. Like we, as a group have to learn how to network better.

Like we have to, we have to use our phones. We have to, you know, we have to like continue to engage in, in these non-traditional platforms again.Ripe for disruption there isn’t a world where, or there is a world where Reddit decides. This is, this can be monetized. That can happen. Like the only way to force LinkedIn into getting better is to not be so reliant on it.

And it’s going to take some time

We’re short on clock or way over short. That’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning into the 10 minute talent rant.. Part of the Talent Insights Series, which is always available for replay on as well as YouTube, apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon.

Jeff, thanks again. As always everyone out there we’ll see you soon.

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