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I have a confession to make. It’s been over 2 years since I actually wrote a blog post. I used to write 5 posts a week but as we have scaled Social Talent I’ve had to focus on our training curriculum, product design and growing a business from 11 employees at the beginning of this year to what will be nearly 70 by this time next year. So, what has me typing away on my notepad in a Starbucks in LA, giving our brilliant daily writer, Siofra, a much needed day off from blogging? TalentConnect 2015. More specifically, what LinkedIn billed as its most important product development announcements for years. Did they deliver? Read on to find out!
4 Major Announcements:
LinkedIn has become huge. Not just huge in terms of members (currently standing at 380 million) or revenue ($Billions) but mainly in terms of product. In the first of 4 major announcements in California today, LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner, himself confessed that the LinkedIn App (which currently accounts for more than half of all LinkedIn traffic) looks more like the company’s organisational chart and less like a user friendly networking app. He’s not wrong. “Project Voyager” is the company’s simple solution to that problem.
1. The New Mobile App Experience ( Project Voyager)
LinkedIn have completely stripped back the app and built it on 5 pillars:
- My Network
In summary, it feels more like Facebook, i.e. nothing revolutionary but as Weiner puts it: “welcome LinkedIn to the 21st century of communications. A little long in the making but we got there.” Rather than knocking LinkedIn for years of lousy apps, we should commend them for what looks like a streamlined, mobile first approach to professional networking bringing great features like “Who viewed my profile” and a nifty calendar integration that can prep you for meetings with built in LinkedIn insights (remember this mini app from a year or so ago?).
He also previewed the Jobs section but more on that in a minute!
2. Responsive, Insights Rich Job Ads
We at Social Talent know how job advertising is broken and has become de-personalised. Whilst the easiest and often most effective quick fix comes down to language and effective multi-media, LinkedIn are trying to solve this issue in a new, novel way. The new job ad layout within LinkedIn (for paid job ads) looks beautiful. You can add an on-brand banner behind your company’s adds (easy win) but the meat of the new update is in the insights that a job seeker can see on the actual job ad itself.
89% of professionals use their network to land a job. This statistic is at the core of the new job ad features. Potential applicants can, straight on the job ad, see who they know in your company, view the profiles of their potential new colleagues in the department that the role likely sits within, who has the employer hired before from your company or your school or with your skills. It’s amazingly personalised and really rich in data. In a year’s time we’ll think this is pedestrian but to be fair to them, this is a real leap forward in how job ads should look and feel.
It’s not all about the job ad though, LinkedIn members can now click a button to signal, privately, that they are “ready for something new”. This won’t appear on their profile and their own employer can never directly see it but its going to be a game changer for filtering your search if you are a Recruiter user (see announcement 4 for more on this).
3. LinkedIn Referrals
This is less of a new product and more of a reboot of an old idea that died, was buried and covered up with remarkable speed! Years ago LinkedIn spoke of a new Referral tool that they had piloted with Accenture and would launch soon. Then nothing happened. Before long, all blog posts mentioning the upcoming product were permanently removed from their site, never to be seen again!
3 years later, following the acquisition of a smart Canadian company called Careerify, they’re ready to do it right this time. LinkedIn Referrals does everything you would expect it to do; it allows Recruiters the ability to message all company employees to solicit referrals, the tool intelligently suggests connections that each employee has that match current vacancies and seamlessly allows them to forward the referred jobs to their network and track their progress. So far, nothing new but LinkedIn’s big change is that they have decided to allow users to fully integrate this with their customers’ ATS:
This is vital to make a referral product work. Rolepoint are really the only credible show in town when it comes to referral software, or at least they were until this morning. LinkedIn Referrals is a stand-alone application, you don’t need to be a Recruiter user to use it and it allows you to promote all of your jobs, not just the ones advertised on LinkedIn. From November, customers of Taleo, SuccessFactors, Jobvite and SmartRecruiters will be able to turn this on and accelerate their referral hiring. Workday, Lumesse and Kenexa are expected to follow swiftly.
Check out this quick demo video of how Referrals integrates with SmartRecruiters to see how it works:
4. Next Generation Recruiter
For the last and arguably biggest new product announcement, a very nervous but amazingly brilliant Eddie Vivas takes to the stage. I first met Eddie nearly 3 years ago at SHRM National in Atlanta. At the time, his startup “Bright” was beginning to seriously disrupt the job aggregation and algorithm matching space and we covered their pretty cool auto-matching software on our blog, crashing Bright’s landing page with the amount of attention it created.
18 months ago, LinkedIn acquired Bright and appointed Eddie as Head of Products for Talent Solutions (aka LinkedIn Recruiter). Since then, nothing. Whilst we all waited for Bright’s brilliance to be unleashed on LinkedIn, all we got was a measly job aggregation integration last summer. But Eddie was working hard, very hard. The fruits of his labour look beautiful. Yes, beautiful. Not perfect, but as Weiner followed: “To a large extent this is just foundational.” These are the building blocks for the future.
So Recruiter is being revamped in early 2016. There were no announcements for LinkedIn.com or the other lower end versions of its products so for now we can only assume that these are premium features only:
So what’s changing? Vivas announced 4 big updates:
d) Ideal Candidates
Kicking us off, Vivas asked “Are you guys ready to see some cool shit?” I love a good curse on the stage of a LinkedIn event. All of the new changes are built around search and at its core they are trying to solve 2 problems. Firstly, while the sourcing ninjas of the world are “crushing it” with their boolean search; most people struggle to build and refine their candidate searches. Secondly, everyone wants to improve their response rates. The new search interface looks completely different. Gone are the empty fields waiting to be filled. Instead, the search box asks you what are you looking for? When you enter a job title, it then asks Where? Then “What skills?” Building a search is less about piling the bricks one on top of each other and more like a conversation with the system. This UI style has been emerging for the last 2 years in other B2B products and its something we have even explored ourselves within Social Talent as a next generation search interface for our free Sourcehub product. It works.
Those of you who have leveraged the http://bit.ly/alumni3 hack that we have published before know how much big data that LinkedIn has on skills and titles. They have been using Recommendations, for examples, to understand skill clusters and taxonomies for over 2 years now. Finally we can see why. As soon as your search results open, Recruiter exposes insights on top skills of the people in your search. You can add or remove them with one click. Add “Big data” to the filter and immediately it suggests further refinements like “Hadoop” or “MapReduce”. Much like our own Sourcehub tool, it gives you ideas to help you search, rather than relying on you to come up with all of the ideas yourself.
After you’ve clicked a couple of buttons and refined your search to a manageable number you’re probably going to start working your way through the search, starting at the front and working your way back page by page. Our black belts know that this is the wrong way to do it and Vivas admitted that LinkedIn know that too.
Your search results can be sliced with 7 different spotlights starting with, for example, 2k total candidates, 57 who have company connections, 13 who have engaged with your talent brand, 8 past applicants and 235 people who have signalled that they are “ready for something new”. There it is, straight from announcement number 2, we see how it ties together. Why wouldn’t you first contact people who say that they want to move jobs? Why wouldn’t you review people who have connections within your current workforce (LinkedIn revealed that the average combined networks of all companies attending TalentConnect was 615,464. Vivas asked us to check our attendee badges. Mine said “46,245”. That, he revealed, is the size of the combined first degree network of little old Social Talent. Pretty powerful stuff! No longer will recruiters blindly work their way from page to page 10 before giving up. Instead, they’ll (hopefully) prioritise the “best” candidates first. It looks pretty cool!
Last, but certainly not least, is a really cool feature that we recognised earlier this year as a great way to start a search. We’re always telling attendees of our private Sourcing Labs to give us the name of a perfect person whom they know would be a great fit for their job opening and then reverse engineer a search to find more people like that. LinkedIn have brought that search idea to Recruiter.
Instead of typing in titles and skills; you can just enter the name of three “ideal” candidates and it will intelligently build a search that contains more people just like them. It clusters common skills, suggests other related skills you can filter by and then allows you to “spotlight” candidates to filter them down to most likely to be interested, in seconds. It really is intelligent sourcing for dummies.
All in all, the business case for using LinkedIn Recruiter instead of .com is becoming quite compelling. There is absolutely no doubt that the Spotlights and Ideal Candidates feature will massively speed up a recruiter’s ability to identify great talent quickly and improve their response rates. Referrals is a good product and integrated into a brilliant ATS like SmartRecruiters, it becomes enormously powerful to manage what should always be your number one source of hire.
The other products are all great but to be honest, to be expected of a billion dollar tech company in this space. It’s brilliant to see LinkedIn innovating around search and discovery. They haven’t really touched these areas in years and years. After 20 months meeting customers and talking to LinkedIn’s own recruiting team, their sales people and marketing folk, Vivas’ team have seemingly pulled something great out of the bag but alas, its only for those who cough up the money for LinkedIn Recruiter and that number is still in the minority (only 31% according to the provisional results of our latest Global Recruiting Survey). If you are an existing Recruiter user, you’re in for a treat next year but fundamentally all of this is irrelevant if you don’t put the basics together like improving your selling skills, building your network and brand and really understanding how to turn tools into results. One big gaping hole left from this is how can third party agencies leverage some of these tools? There were no announcements last week at SocialRecruitIN about the Recruiter Professional Services roadmap but one can expect a watered down version of some of the Recruiter Corporate features at some point next year.
LinkedIn are back in the sourcing and recruiting race. They’ve learned a lot from what other, smaller, nimble tech companies have been doing in our space and through acquisition or intelligent “borrowing” have managed to bring some really innovative tools to the world’s most used Recruiting tool. And Weiner says, they are only getting started!