LinkedIn didn’t listen to a word I said.
Jumping onto the resume reinvention bandwagon, LinkedIn introduced ‘visually enhanced” portfolios last week. As the name suggests, LinkedIn users are now empowered to add even more eye-candy to profiles.
According to the release:
This means you can illustrate your greatest achievements in the form of stunning images, compelling videos, innovative presentations and more. From the analyst who makes annual predictions on tech trends to the 3D animator who is looking to fund a new short film, the opportunities are limitless for how professionals can now use the LinkedIn profile to help showcase these unique stories in a visual way.
Here’s the Slideshare:
I know the company is crushing it on many fronts. But this unending move to out-Facebook Facebook just seems like doing something for the sake of doing something.
The recruiters I talk to want standardized resumes. That’s boring, I know, but boring is efficient. Sure, there are professions where pretty pictures make sense, but that’s not the message here, as LinkedIn uses “Recent Grad” as one of their fancy profile examples.
Does that really say “Graduation photos”? How many recruiters want to use Pomp and Circumstance pics as a prerequisite for employment?
In contrast, Indeed remains steadfast in providing an effective, simple platform for searching and submitting resumes. And they’re quietly growing an audience that loves said interface for managing those resumes.
The more LinkedIn gets away from its roots, the more Indeed becomes a threat to its place in the market. Indeed is already the most popular place to search for jobs. By some accounts, more job seekers apply to jobs with their button than LinkedIn’s. The have commentary that gives Glassdoor a run for its money. And all the while, their stuff remains fast, mobile and search engine friendly.
I could go on.
The point is, LinkedIn is going to lose its recruiting crown if it keeps up the arms race with Facebook, Twitter and all the other Valley darlings.
Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe the dollars outside of employment are just too tempting. Maybe their blind with success.
LinkedIn’s shareholders certainly don’t seem care. The stock is a Street favorite even after last week’s hiccup. Keep in mind, however, Monster’s stock used to be just as loved.
it took Indeed less than 10 years to remake the job search space. It may take less than that to own the entire employment landscape.
Not that long ago, I used to say, “Unless you’re a sales person or a recruiter, LinkedIn sucks.” I doubt the powers-that-be were listening, but since going IPO, it sure seems like they were.
The first significant move away from being “your father’s LinkedIn” came in 2011 with the launch of LinkedIn Today, This offering “delivers the day’s top news, tailored to you based on what your connections and industry peers are reading and sharing.”
Fair enough. Aggregate some content based on shared articles within my network. It’ll be nice to finally weed through the grumpy cat memes and LeBron shares on Facebook and get right to some meat-and-potato business content.
News aggregation and original content? Check.
Early 2013, LinkedIn upgraded its company pages, complete with pretty photos, followers and tabs. (Yeah, I know this all sounds a lot like Facebook’s evolution, but stay with me.) HP hit 1 million followers in Feb. There’s even an infographic to celebrate.
Then, last week, LinkedIn acquired the popular news aggregation app Pulse.
According to the company release, it’s “completely revamped with the general professional and everyday use case in mind. … We’ve designed the new LinkedIn mobile phone app for every professional, with a richer and more engaging stream and more personalization features.”
Of course, there’s a video:
Therein lies the crux of LinkedIn’s future: It’s moving beyond the recruiting junkies and sales hounds. Though, oddly enough, it’s a great thing for this original core consumer.
A few month’s ago, I attended a recruiting roundtable where a group of headhunters were complaining about the lack of software developers on LinkedIn. “I’d guess only 40 percent of the engineers in my area even have profiles on LinkedIn,” one said.
This reality has given rise to trolling sites like Github for talent. Dare I say Facebook, with its Graph Search, may even be a better place to source certain candidates, especially with its $1-per-message pricetag compared to LinkedIn’s $10-per-message fee structure?
At a recent Facebook event where CEO Mark Zuckerberg described the aspiration for Facebook to be the world’s best “personalized newspaper,” he said:
What we’re trying to do is give everyone in the world the best personalized newspaper we can. We believe that the best personalized newspaper should have a broad diversity of content. It should have high-quality public content from world-renowned sources, and it should also have socially and locally relevant updates from family, friends, and the people around you. It should also enable you to drill into any topic that you want to discuss.
The future of the Web is a battle for time, as in who controls yours. Facebook, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and myriad others are vying for your most precious resource. Few things demand attention like good content, so it’s no surprise they’re all getting into that game.
Can a LinkedIn-meets-CNBC video channel be far behind?
If LinkedIn can carve out its niche for providing no-filler content for everyday professionals, I think they’ll be fine. Keep improving the employment offerings and keep empowering companies, and differentiation will stay intact. It’ll still be a get-a-job and network destination.
If they stray too much into Facebook and Twitter territory, I think an opportunity opens up for someone like Indeed, who I’m sure would love to fill the void as “professional hangout.”
While LinkedIn is noticeably doing its best to become Facebook, Indeed is quietly doing its best to become LinkedIn. Weird. But, that’s a separate post.
Facebook is in the enviable position of being able to pretty much launch anything and get it in front of a billion human beings. And over the years, they’ve done a good job at throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks.
Their most recent foray into search (a good move, in my opinion) is one such example. Others, such as deals, check-ins, chat, Poke and classifieds exist too.
I say the dabbling is over. It’s time for Facebook to get serious about jobs.
Here’s why: Facebook is losing its cool. Teens are leaving the site for cooler kids like Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. I recently presented to a group of students at Penn St. who told me Facebook is “moderately cool.” Other anecdotal evidence is even less optimistic.
It’s OK. It happens to the best of us. Fortunately, anti-cool is not a death sentence, but for a company that blossomed because of coolness, figuring out the next chapters are vital.
Most readers know Facebook acquired cool-kid Instagram last year. That good news and bad news. Good for its current popularity; bad because it too will one-day be uncool.
Facebook is putting itself in a position where it has to drop cash every so often to stay on the cutting edge. That’s a tough treadmill to run.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, is on the opposite end of the social media spectrum. Possibly cool to the buttoned-up, degree-carrying, cube-dwelling humans that walk the earth, but less so to hipsters.
Who cares? You need a job? Get your butt on LinkedIn or else it’s mom’s basement for you, buster.
In other words, LinkedIn is a utility. It’s Google, YouTube and Amazon (or at least on its way). It doesn’t care about being cool because it’s become the place for professional networking.
And that’s where Facebook needs to go. it can spin its wheels on one end of the hip meter snatching up the next Instagram, but it would be better served acquiring a major player in the employment space.
So, if Facebook isn’t seriously considering a play in the employment space that’s more than window dressing, it would do right by making a serious play for Monster. LinkedIn would be nice, but it’s probably too expensive.
Monster’s stock price and lack of acquisition interest make it ripe for bargain basement shopping. Additionally, Monster’s database is rich with employers who might have soured on Monster’s product over the year’s, but are just waiting to be reenergized around new ownership.
Lots of industry partnerships, brand awareness and roots in employment add icing to the cake. Most importantly, however, Monster potentially puts Facebook on par with LinkedIn, a network immune to the winds of cultural change.
Employment, as LinkedIn has shown, will never go out of style. Facebook needs to embrace this reality, grow-up and get boring.
But Mason’s model was dead-on-arrival. And the comparisons to the job board industry are omnipresent.
As outlined in the book “Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever,” the company found early success and grew a workforce of some 2,000 in just a few years. This was done to grab as much marketshare as possible with competitors like Yelp, Amazon and Google breathing down its neck.
The novelty of balloon rides and botox was contagious with consumers and the company turned down a reported $6 billion offer from Google and went IPO in 2011.
In an effort to increase profits, Groupon began cutting its marketing expenses, expecting its e-mail list of millions would mean a steady stream of free traffic. The decline of email’s effectiveness is probably a bigger reason for Groupon’s demise than will ever be reported, but that’s another post altogether.
What remained, however, was a large sales force. Local merchants are a diverse group, with many knowing little about technology while regularly being inundated with “silver bullets” promising to fill tables at lunchtime and sell out yoga classes.
The overhead to sustain such a people-heavy business is immense and the company has made moves to become a more scalable technology play, focusing on POS software and goods.
The pivot from a hand-holding, labor intensive agency for local merchants to a tech-centric, goods business will be painful and wrought with challenges.
The Job Board Parallel
Newspaper classifieds begat online job sites. The idea of taking a $5,000 print ad and turning it into a $99 online ad has been an effective model for over a decade. Without the cost of cutting down trees and paying paperboys, newspapers couldn’t compete.
However, in many cases, the large sales forces remained. Human resources, it continues to be argued, is a “people business.” Add “risk averse” to that equation and the perceived need for bodies on the street runs rampant.
Armed with little more than skeleton crews and server farms big enough to keep the lights on, these companies proved that you didn’t need local offices, regional VPs and Super Bowls ads to reach the heights they’ve achieved, while disrupting the traditional recruitment advertising model in the process.
Who knew? HR people really will buy stuff without holiday gift baskets, concert tickets and lunch dates. Tech companies really could out-duel armies of sales people.
The daily deals business, or more appropriately the local market business is digitally a much younger business than employment. Groupon is a victim of timing. Someone will prove that technology can penetrate the corner yogurt shop.
“Local” will get its Indeed someday. It just won’t be Groupon.
It’s that time of year again. So here are my predictions for 2013:
- Monster finally gets acquired. With its growth days behind it and an economy that should remain challenging - as in recession challenging - Monster’s stock dives enough to be too juicy for a bigger fish to gobble-up.
- LinkedIn buys Simply Hired. If you think Monster and CareerBuilder are LinkedIn’s biggest concerns, think again. It’s Indeed. And buying Simply Hired, who already runs LinkedIn’s posting backfill, is a relatively inexpensive move to strengthen their position in the job search landscape.
- Craigslist mobilizes. I know, the company is synonymous with “stubborn” and has done little in its 18 years to get with the times. That said, not being able to surf the site comfortably on a smartphone is ridiculous, especially when you consider how important mobile is to local search.
- Rise of the domains. If you thought .jobs was an unnecessary addition to the Web, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. ICANN is opening the floodgates, which will open the door for .career and being able to throw “jobs” into everything from .accountant and .ibm.
- Facebook makes a serious push against LinkedIn. Maybe the app was supposed to take attention away from the real strategy. Facebook is starting initiatives to generate revenue like their hair’s on fire. Going public will do that to you. And I think LinkedIn is in the crosshairs. Testing pay-to-contact at $1-per-message is a potential blow to LinkedIn’s cash cow, InMail, which charges $10-per-message. Now Facebook just needs to enhance their search engine in order to find qualified candidates.
For anyone who pays attention to this space, it should be an interesting year. Startups are again a serious part of the landscape while established players continue to face the challenges of an ever-evolving world led by increasingly powerful companies looking to get into the game.
Happy New Year!
Trusted sources are saying
If true, it would certainly squash the rumors of LinkedIn buying Monster, bypassing the job board model in favor of vertical search. LinkedIn has its own job posting solution, of course, and currently supplies users with a secondary search, powered by Simply Hired.
I suspect this deal, assuming it goes down, has a lot more to do with taking out an upcoming competitor than it does vertical job search. Think Facebook taking out Instagram.
More than Monster, Indeed has been quickly building a resume database and their “Apply with Indeed” company pages look awfully familiar and directly competitive with key LinkedIn initiatives.
And keep an eye on the employment space if this goes down as rumoreed. It could help set the market for other job sites looking to sell out to most eligible sugar daddies. Monster’s stock price, for instance, will be fun to watch.
Could be a fun week. We’ll see. Stay tuned.
UPDATE (9/24/12; 9:47 p.m., PST) - Another trusted source has come forwarded saying LinkedIn is not the buyer, but that Indeed is, in fact, being acquired.
UPDATE (9/24/12; 10:28 p.m., PST) - Rumors of a “Japanese firm” buying Indeed is a common theme as this thing snowballs. Now, what exactly “Japanese firm” means is unknown. Private equity, perhaps? The number $1.2 billion has been thrown out.
UPDATE (9/24/12; 11:57 p.m., PST) - It’s official. According to their blog, Indeed has sold to Japanese-owned Recruit Co. Click here for details.
Someone might be close to acquiring Monster - finally.
The who’s-going-to-buy-Monster rumors have come and gone over the years - LinkedIn being one of the most recent - but the buzz this time ‘round may be more than a ploy to pop the stock.
Sources have been pointing to Fall as the time it’s all supposed to go down. Only time will tell, but here are a few of the players in the mix, ranging from logical to not-a-chance-in-hell:
- Microsoft - Maybe. I think the company still owns a small position in CareerBuilder, so they are privy to the online employment landscape. As Microsoft struggles to hold onto their enterprise stronghold, adding job postings and Monster’s technology might be a move they’d make.
- News Corp - After things going so well with MySpace, what could possibly go wrong? With the newspaper biz fading into the sunset, buying a an online job board may seem reasonable for ol’ Murdoch. I think they also have a position in Simply Hired, which could make for an interesting combination.
- Salesforce - The cloud champion has been adding to its portfolio of companies like mad lately, so throwing in some employment IP could be in the playbook.
- Oracle - They hate Salesforce and their CEO is nutso.
- SAP - They bought SuccessFactors earlier this year, which begat adding Jobs2Web a few months later. Monster could be another piece to the puzzle.
- More Old Media - A longshot, but The New York Times or Washington Post could come out of left field.
- Portals - Aol’s stock has been on a tear lately, which may embolden it to make a move for a different kind of content play - jobs. Like old media, I see them less interested in the technology, but who knows? Yahoo!’s lack of success with HotJobs could be a deterrence.
- Wildcard - Thrown into the discussion have been China’s 51Job and Australia’s Seek. CareerBuilder seems like a longshot, but what the hell. LinkedIn? Fat chance.
Timing is always paramount to acquisitions, and each of the alleged prospective buyers are either grasping for innovation or hoping the replace one dinosaur for other ones. I still contend a sale is a long shot, but if it’s going to happen, it’s likely to be one of the above.
And hopefully soon. I hate long soap operas.