Tag Archives: linkedin

Recruiting on LinkedIn? 4 things you should stop doing immediately

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If you have a profile on LinkedIn and have taken the time to upload your résumé and list all your technical skillsets, then chances are you receive somewhat regular inquiries from recruiters who have leveraged the social network’s premium services to seek out possible job candidates. What makes LinkedIn such a revolutionary platform is that it gives you access to millions of working professionals who might not be actively seeking new employment but are still open to new opportunities. Prior to LinkedIn’s launch, a recruiter needed to rely purely on word-of-mouth to locate these kinds of candidates, but now it’s a simple matter of typing in a few keywords and a geographic location.

I’m one of those people who isn’t actively seeking new employment — I’m a self-employed consultant — but I’m always open to hearing about new positions as you never know when a potential dream job could land in your lap. And so that’s why I’m generally warm to recruiters who show up in my inbox, even if the job for which they’re approaching me isn’t a good fit. I’ve even taken the time to connect a recruiter to someone I think would be a better candidate.

What I have less and less patience for are the growing number of recruiters who have flooded LinkedIn and cast wide nets without conducting the preliminary research needed to determine whether the person they’re reaching out to would be even remotely interested — or qualified — for a position. These recruiters simply type keywords into LinkedIn’s search field and will contact dozens of users at a time, often without taking more than a cursory look at those users’ resumes.

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So if you’re a recruiter who wants to leverage LinkedIn to flesh out your list of candidates, here’s what you should avoid doing:

Requesting a résumé

I often have recruiters reach out to me and then, after I’ve expressed interest in hearing more about a position, ask me to send them my résumé. To which my incredulous response is always: “But you found me through my résumé. Why am I sending you a document you’ve presumably already looked at?” I understand that once you’re ready to introduce me to a client then you’ll want a better-formatted version that you can hand over, but there’s no reason I should have to spend an hour updating my résumé before I can even learn about the position.

Reaching out to candidates before reading their résumés

There’s a lot more to a job candidate than just his résumé; otherwise why would you even bother with the job interview process? But the résumé is a good starting document for determining whether someone is a potential good fit. So why do I find myself getting on the phone with recruiters only to learn the position they’re recruiting for is aimed at someone with only two or three years experience when it’s quite clear from my LinkedIn résumé that I’ve been out of college for a decade?

Being vague about a position

I understand you want to protect your commission and avoid anyone going around you to get the job for which you’re recruiting, but being all cloak and dagger about who the employer is just ends up wasting my time and yours.

Ghosting

It’s not just for dating. Apparently recruiters love to reach out to a person, ask them for a good time and phone number to discuss a position, and then never reply again once the person offers up his availability. I can’t think of anything more unprofessional than proactively emailing someone about a job and then never bothering to reply when that person is kind enough to email you back.

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This isn’t just about common professional courtesy. Just because a candidate isn’t a good fit for a particular position doesn’t mean she won’t be interested in future jobs for which you’re recruiting. So if you send a person an email and show not even a modicum of professionalism, how likely is it that that candidate will respond to your future inquiries? Not likely at all.

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Why every blog post should be crossposted to LinkedIn and Medium

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Earlier this month, I completed a 1,500 word feature story on why the scholarly publisher PLOS is teaming up with Reddit on an ongoing science interview series. I had put a good deal of work into the piece, interviewing editors at PLOS, scientists who had been published in its journals, and moderators at Reddit. If I had written this article a year ago I would have simply published it to my blog and then devoted all my energy toward directing my social media followers to the piece. If I was lucky, a tweet of mine would float across the screen of someone influential on Twitter who had thousands of followers, and his or her retweet would direct a flood of readers to the article. But just as often as not, my article wouldn’t attract much notice and it’d lay stagnant on my blog, boasting only a handful of tweets and likes.

But my philosophy on web publishing has changed drastically in recent months, so in addition to publishing the story to my blog, I also uploaded it to LinkedIn’s publishing platform and to Medium.  The version on my blog did rack up a few influential shares, including a retweet from Gawker founder Nick Denton, but it ultimately attracted only about 100 views, which by itself would have rendered the piece a failure.

But on LinkedIn and Medium, the results were much more encouraging. A few hours after I uploaded it, an editor at LinkedIn plugged my piece into its Pulse channel on education, which currently boasts hundreds of thousands of followers. Within moments, my LinkedIn app on my phone began pinging me with updates as the story racked up comments and likes. Overall, it generated 106 likes, five comments, and 1,075 views.

While most the activity on LinkedIn occurred within the first 24 hours after posting, Medium was more of a slow burn. For the first day the article slowly collected recommends (Medium’s internal share function), and then began picking up traction on the second day after I submitted it to the influential Thoughts on Journalism publication. Ultimately, the article attracted 12 recommends, but because Medium is an influencer platform, it led to shares from outside networks. Of the 1,500 views of my article, 500 came from Facebook, 400 from email, and nearly 300 from Twitter.

All together, the piece attracted over 2,600 views, and that was before it went on to be reprinted by MediaShift and the Daily Dot. If you work at a major publication like BuzzFeed or the New York Times, 2,600 views might not seem like a lot, but for an independent writer who has no institutional backing, it’s a respectable audience (some of my articles on Medium have gone as high as 5,000 views and one article of mine on LinkedIn received over 50,000).

Increasingly, I’m seeing more and more writers follow this strategy — continuing to publish posts to their own websites but then crossposting to LinkedIn, Medium, or both. For years, we’ve been warned away from such tactics. You may have heard the term “digital sharecropping,” which Copyblogger once called “the most dangerous threat to your content marketing strategy.”  Put simply, digital sharecropping is when you place too many resources into growing your following on outside platforms you don’t completely own rather than focusing on your own website, of which you have complete control. And this makes some sense; in a world in which Facebook regularly changes its algorithm and Twitter can revoke API access, placing all your eggs in another company’s basket exposes you to a certain amount of risk.

But at the same time, anyone who has had any experience in publishing knows how difficult it is to drive traffic to a standalone website, especially if that website isn’t updated 20 times a day. The harsh reality is that only a tiny fraction of your social media followers will click on a link to an outside website, and most prefer to interact and consume content that’s native to the platform they’re browsing. So if you’re only publishing, at most, a few articles per week and don’t have an enormous social following, chances are your content is getting lost in the noise.

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The opportunity that platforms like LinkedIn and Medium offer is they have an already existing audience and they allow you to amass a following that will increase your content’s likelihood of discovery. Millions of people visit the home pages of LinkedIn and Medium each day, and their publishing tools provide you the opportunity to place your content in front of those readers and generate real engagement when they click into your article.

There’s another argument typically made against digital sharecropping: that it hurts your SEO. The thinking goes that if you post the same content across multiple sites, Google will penalize your personal website and only index the content that you crossposted on more authoritative sites. This argument was recently boosted when Google changed its algorithm to punish aggressive guest posting.

But it turns out many of these concerns were overblown. Google engineers have repeatedly said the search engine only aims to punish spammy guest posting that exists to build backlinks. Blogger Ryan Battles recently conducted an experiment in which he consistently crossposted his content to both LinkedIn and Medium and found that all versions of the article continued to be indexed.

Of course, if your create content in order to sell advertising against it, publishing to Medium and LinkedIn will do nothing to generate new revenue and may even decrease traffic to the website where you’re selling said advertising. But the vast majority of people who create content on the internet do so either to elevate their own personal brands or to market a product or service. For those content producers, the goal is to expand their audience, regardless of where that audience consumes the content. If you fit into this latter category, then by ignoring Medium and LinkedIn you’re potentially turning away thousands of readers for each article you write. You should go to where the readers are, not assume they’ll come flocking to you.

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Why LinkedIn is the most well-positioned social network right now

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Snapchat. Meerkat. Periscope. Pinterest. If you scan tech news headlines you’ll notice a certain predilection for the shiny and new, a tendency to cover pre-IPO, still-nascent social platforms that have the potential to capture market share from current stalwarts. We’re constantly treated to ballooning valuations and think pieces about how Company X is attracting a lucrative demographic (usually millennials).

But one of the most well-positioned social media companies with vast potential for growth isn’t shiny or new. In fact, it held its initial public offering in 2011 and launched more than a decade ago. Yes, we’re talking about LinkedIn, the website that, up until recently, you only visited when you were looking for a job. With its $2 billion in annual revenue, it would be easy to dismiss LinkedIn as a tiny gnat buzzing around Facebook, which brought in $12 billion in 2014 revenue and currently boasts 1.3 billion active users.

But here’s the thing: while LinkedIn has been long known merely as a network to update and publicly display your resume, it’s becoming the central information and networking hub for career professionals, many of whom are now utilizing its new blog platform to engage in thought leadership and market themselves and their services to an ever-growing mass of daily, addicted LinkedIn users. Given that LinkedIn is the only major social platform focused entirely on careers, it has a lock on the most high-value demographics, most of whom are coming to the site primed to do business.

As I’ve documented previously, LinkedIn’s blog publishing platform, launched to the public early last year, has been a game changer. According to the last publicly-available figure, users are publishing 50,000 posts a week (it’s probably higher than that now). Pieces shared on LinkedIn Pulse consistently rack up hundreds of thousands of views and even a modest push on a LinkedIn channel can result in several thousand readers. After seeing the amount of engagement LinkedIn blogging drives, I have to agree with Business Insider’s assertion that LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth is the most powerful business journalist in the world. It was only a matter of time that users would begin to recognize the unique value proposition of publishing to LinkedIn, especially since it’s almost impossible to drive real traffic to a company blog. Why drive potential customers to your blog when you can bring your blog to your customers?

As LinkedIn becomes a daily habit for millions of businesses and professionals, an entire realm of revenue opportunities open up. It’s already becoming the go-to platform for both job listings and professional recruiters — an industry estimated to be worth an annual $457 billion. Unlike Monster.com and other job listings websites, LinkedIn users spend time on the platform regardless of if they’re actively looking for a job, meaning that hiring managers and recruiters can use it to poach employees who already have jobs. It also wouldn’t surprise me one bit if LinkedIn begins to segue into the personal services industry (think hiring a plumber or someone to mow your lawn), which has already attracted the likes of Amazon and Google.

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I think we’re also going to see a huge influx in advertising dollars to LinkedIn as businesses begin to use it to market their services to other businesses and professionals. While it might not be the ideal network for, say, Pepsi to advertise on, it’ll certainly lure in B2B companies who derive the entirety of their revenue from other businesses. A recent research report projects B2B ecommerce to reach $6.7 trillion by 2020. LinkedIn only needs to bite off a small chunk of that market in order to vastly multiply its annual revenue.

And now, with the purchase of Lynda.com for $1.5 billion, we’re witnessing LinkedIn’s next industry expansion: professional education. Lynda.com, with its video tutorials and online courses, specializes in the creative and technical services for which there is insatiable demand in this new economy. Essentially, LinkedIn is seeking to dominate every segment of the job lifecycle, from professional training to the entirety of a person’s career trajectory.

It’s not that these various industries don’t have major presences on platforms like Facebook and Twitter, it’s just that for every business professional looking to network on Twitter there are five who just want to use it to follow their favorite celebrities or sports teams. That’s a lot of potentially-wasted ad dollars if your targeting is even just a little bit off. At the same time, no one is visiting LinkedIn to follow the travails of Justin Bieber, which opens the door for vastly more efficient ad spending.

With that in mind, one can understand LinkedIn’s potential even if it never reaches the user scale of Facebook. It doesn’t want to be the social network for everybody, but rather its goal is to be the fulcrum on which the entire business community pivots and interacts. The teens can have their Vines and Snapchats. When they finally grow up and graduate college they can join the only network that can actually get them a job.

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The new evolution in blogging: combining longform with shortform

Ev Williams, co-founder of Medium

Ev Williams, co-founder of Medium

In August of last year, I wrote about how Medium, the blogging platform co-founded by Ev Williams (who also co-founded both Twitter and Blogger), is, in part, an attempt to bring us back to the web we lost. One can argue, as I did, that social platforms like Twitter and Facebook brought tremendous benefits to the internet. These networks created millions of casual bloggers (I use the word “blogger” loosely here) by providing a centralized platform from which to publish, thereby largely democratizing the spread of content on the web. The unfortunate side effect of this was that millions of independent bloggers gave up their own websites and settled into these platforms where they could reach a more consistent audience, even if it meant relinquishing the controls offered by a more robust CMS and the ability to write longform content. Sure there’s always been blogging tools still out there if you wanted to write longer pieces, but they didn’t offer the network effect of Facebook or Twitter, where your followers were constantly checking in looking for new updates. Your only way of letting readers know you had a new post up was through RSS (which never had high adoption rates) or by linking to it from Facebook or Twitter and hoping you could get enough shares or retweets to drive real traffic.

The enticing aspect of Medium, in addition to its slick design, is the ability to apply the network effect to longform blogging, allowing one to amass an army of followers so you don’t feel as if your content is playing to an empty room. Within a matter of months after Medium’s launch, we began to see the emergence of independent voices penning longform essays and blog posts, and it’s begun to feel like a return to the old-school blogosphere, the anti-establishment media that flourished and excited me in the mid-2000s.

Of course, Medium faced a dilemma — not everyone has a regular longform post in them, and its platform didn’t scratch that itch you have when you just want to sound off a few sentences on a topic without having to craft a carefully-worded essay around it. For that kind of insta-punditry, Twitter and Facebook still remained the only places to fulfill that desire.

Until now. Yesterday, Williams announced a major change to Medium’s technology, “We added a way to post right on the homepage of Medium,” he wrote. “Start writing instantly. If you get inspired to turn it into something bigger, click over to the full-screen editor. Otherwise, keep it simple and publish it straight from there.” I navigated over to the front page, and sure enough, there was a status bar waiting for me, not unlike the one sitting atop my Facebook newsfeed. Actually, it is slightly different: Medium’s status bar lets you do things like insert hyperlinks as well as bold and italicize words. You can also upload photos and arrange them within the text any way you want.

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And so we finally have the merging of shortform social media posts and longform blogging. And Medium isn’t the only network to combine the two. For a long while now, LinkedIn has provided the ability to post Twitter-like updates to a newsfeed, but last year it expanded its Influencers blogging platform to everyone, allowing its millions of users to post longform thought leadership posts directly to LinkedIn. Anecdotally, I can report that an increasing number of people within my own professional network have started posting there (I upload at least one piece a week), and the company recently announced that users are publishing 50,000 pieces a week. It’s also worth noting that Tumblr has always provided the ability to post shortform and longform content, though it’s primarily known for its shorter, image-heavy posts.

It’s hard not to be encouraged by such developments. Yes, there’s a very valid argument to be made that we’re still giving too much power to these large social platforms, but this is at least one instance where they’re giving some power — in the form of more control over how our content is presented — back to us. The question now is how Facebook will respond. We’ve heard rumors that it wants to offer some way for news outlets to be able to host their content within Facebook’s ecosystem, but does this mean everyday users will have the ability to post longform content to the social behemoth? Hopefully, these recent moves from Medium and LinkedIn will spur it to action.

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Why business professionals are flocking to LinkedIn’s new publishing platform

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For the longest time, Tiffany Jana never considered LinkedIn as a platform that had any significant impact on her business. She used it, sure, just as she was active on other networks like Twitter, but mainly as a casual user rather than treating it as an ancillary part of her business. “It started as a childish competition between me and a colleague who owns a small business,” she told me in a phone interview. “And he was on this rampage of trying to friend everyone under the sun. Every time he did a speaking event, it was like friend all the people! And he got over 500 connections, and I was like I’m going to see what’s the point of doing this, so I started to friend all the people at every speaking event. I added the LinkedIn button to all my stuff, and I amassed an audience very quickly.”

But what to do with that audience? Jana eventually discovered LinkedIn Groups and began to join in on discussions within her field. But even as she spent an increasing about of time on the platform, she didn’t consider LinkedIn to be a tool that contributed to her bottom line. She’s the owner of a consulting company that works with organizations looking to increase the diversity of their workforce or adapt their HR policies to be more inclusive, and most of her business has been completely organic (through word of mouth and referrals) rather than derived from an organized marketing campaign.

But then Jana hired a branding company to work under a retainer to work for her business, and one of its tasks was to conduct a web analytics audit for her website and social media properties. “It was at that point I discovered LinkedIn was my most engaged platform,” she said. “Liking, commenting, interaction, everything. There was more traffic being driven to my website from LinkedIn. There were more people commenting to my blog from LinkedIn. The interaction that was happening on my [social media] posts, it was happening far more on LinkedIn than anywhere else. That was the big moment where I realized, oh, I should probably pay a bit more attention to this.”

And then earlier this year Jana received an email from LinkedIn informing her she was part of a selected group of users who were invited to use its blogging tool. It was a spinoff of a platform launched in 2012 called LinkedIn Influencers. A small group of 150 major policy and company leaders — Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Richard Branson — had been invited to write blog posts for LinkedIn, which were then promoted via the company’s highly trafficked LinkedIn Today news feed. Each post garnered an average of 20,000 views, with some reaching up to the hundreds of thousands. In February, LinkedIn announced that it was allowing access to this blogging platform for all users, starting with an initial 25,000 active users and branching out from there. Once you opted in to the program, you could start penning longform blog posts with headlines, hyperlinks, and photos. New blog posts would appear on your profile page and you could discover your connections’ blog posts by visiting your LinkedIn home page. LinkedIn also made a significant change to its ecosystem by allowing users to “follow” other users without requiring them to follow back, a feature that was popularized by Twitter and has been rolled out by other major social networks.

While the tech press covered the announcement, few reporters latched on to the significance of this move within the world of major social networks. A benefit from the rise of social platforms like Facebook and Twitter is that it converted millions of casual web users into publishers, vastly expanding the blogosphere. But even though social networks offered a steady readership and easy use, they also, as I’ve argued previously, taken away control of how our content is presented. Facebook status updates don’t have headlines. You can’t use hyperlinks. You have no control over how your images are presented within that content. Because of this, anything over a few hundred characters isn’t ideal for the platform. Twitter, with its 140 character limit, is even more restrictive.

LinkedIn’s blogging tool offers features that you’ll be able to find on any WordPress blog. Posts contain headlines, have no character limits, allow hyperlinks, and let users position images any way they want within the content. Other than perhaps Tumblr, none of the other major social networking companies offer a publishing platform this robust. Though LinkedIn didn’t respond to my request for comment, Ryan Roslansky, Head of Content Products at LinkedIn, gave some indication in February as to why the company made this move. “We do this because we want LinkedIn to be the place where members can become productive, successful professionals – not just when you’re trying to find a job, or search for another person.” Journalists and analysts have long recognized that LinkedIn users, while numerous, typically don’t engage with the site except when they’re looking for a job; the blogging tool is a way of luring more of them into becoming regular visitors.

It had just this sort of effect on Tiffany Jana. When she first got the invite to begin blogging she initially ignored it. But then she noticed that more and more people that she admired — professionals who usually contributed blog posts to outlets like Fast Company and Inc — had published content that was showing up in her feed. “I was like, ‘Is this that same thing they invited me to do?’ And I went back and looked through my email, and there it was. So I tested it out the first time. My father later sent me a screenshot of his phone; I was right there next to Richard Branson, and that was the first recommendation on his Pulse.” From there forward, Jana was hooked.

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Karim Abouelnaga

This lightbulb effect, where business professionals went from casual users of LinkedIn to regular publishers seemingly overnight, was a common refrain among the people I interviewed. It happened to Karim Abouelnaga, who runs a startup that offers summer school programs in inner city neighborhoods. Last month he was struck with an idea after he read an article that Wall Street firms were boosting take-home pay in order to halt its best employees from decamping to Silicon Valley. “I realized that wasn’t the reason people were leaving and I had all these different ideas for why they were,” he told me. “I jotted my ideas on a bus ride one day and then literally Sunday morning sat down and wrote the post. It maybe took me an hour.”

Though he already wrote regularly for Entrepreneur, Abouelnaga had been meaning to try out LinkedIn’s blog platform and decided to publish his piece there. “It pretty much went viral,” he recalled. “I posted it on my Facebook and maybe picked up like 10 likes, meaning the average person on my newsfeed didn’t care to read it. And then I saw that it had about 2,000 views on LinkedIn, and then it got reposted on a channel.” LinkedIn channels are broad-based topics areas that users can subscribe to, and having your post published to a channel can expose it to a much larger audience. “Then people started commenting, tweeting, sharing. I think I got over 1,300 or 1,400 profile views.” The post itself has close to 46,000 views to date.

Brynne Tillman, who runs a business that consults with professionals and companies on their LinkedIn strategies, explained to me the game-changing dynamics of LinkedIn’s publishing tools. “I’d go in and teach an entire class, and none of them had the ability to blog on their company website, and it was very tedious to set up a WordPress or a Blogger site.” Tillman was one of the early beta testers of LinkedIn’s blog software, and right away she grasped its significance. “It was an answer to my prayers. This leveled the playing field for everyone. Now anyone can be a thought leader. You don’t have to be at the mercy of your company’s website.”

Scrolling through Tillman’s LinkedIn blog, it became immediately obvious how such a tool could allow one to straddle the line between helpful thought leadership and client acquisition. Many of her posts give advice on optimizing your LinkedIn account, a direct tie-in to her consulting business, and at the end of each post she makes a hard sell for both her services and a book she self-published. Many of her posts are enormously successful (all viewership stats are publicly viewable), rivaling the pageviews that you’ll find on your average Forbes contributor blog post. I asked Tillman why her posts did so well and, without missing a beat or pausing to check any notes, she rattled off a “seven-step process” she follows with every post. The advice ranged from “write a catchy title that tells your reader what you’re going to get” to ensuring that the post has implementable takeaways. “If someone reads your blog and takes down notes, it’s a success,” she said.

Of course, publishing your post to a network that has millions of users certainly helps in generating views for your posts. One feature that I noticed while perusing blogs was that LinkedIn employs the use of a scrolling design — basically, when you reach the end of the blog post you can continue scrolling and read another one without having to click over to a new page. These recommended posts seem to shift back and forth between LinkedIn Influencer pieces and those from everyday users. As for how those everyday users can get their posts into LinkedIn’s powerful recommendation engine, it seems to be based on some internal criteria that’s opaque to anyone not working for LinkedIn.

Even those who have been blessed by traffic sent via LinkedIn are under no illusion as to whether their success was based on merit alone. “If you don’t get reposted on one of those channels, the content falls on deaf ears,” said Abouelnaga. “There are people who post lots of posts that only get a few hundred views, and it’s because they’re not posting content that’s getting picked up by any of the particular channels. And so if it doesn’t get picked up, it doesn’t go to a wider audience, and if it doesn’t go to a wider audience, the purpose of the post itself is not as meaningful.” But still, even if your content doesn’t receive thousands of readers by way of LinkedIn Pulse, it’s not difficult to grasp why being able to place that content directly in front of your professional contact list is valuable. With job recruiters increasingly using LinkedIn for headhunting, even the smallest efforts on the platform can make a world of difference.

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How do you maintain a cohesive online identity when it’s scattered across so many platforms?

One of the themes I touched on yesterday in my article on how Medium is trying to bring back the web we lost is that we’ve essentially outsourced our identities to multiple corporate entities (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) who control the format and type of content we can produce. In addition to this blog, I maintain at least somewhat-regularly-updated profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Foursquare, and LinkedIn. With your eggs spread across so many baskets, it can be difficult to every truly master a particular platform, and it makes it difficult to provide a holistic representation of yourself. Dave Winer, an early pioneering blogger, recognizes this incongruity and wants to find a way to unite his online identities under one roof:

Today there are lots of ways to scatter all kinds of stuff to the wind. If you do a search on a person, you’ll get a lot of random stuff, but for most people there’s no single place that represents the person.#

So for me, until further notice, my blog is where all my scatterings come together. Usually it’ll just be stuff that I’ve created, but occasionally I’ll point to something from someone else that’s connected to what I do.