Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979, and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade. In this post for PBS, he is skeptical of the new way LinkedIn is aggressively targeting job seekers and employers:

I couldn’t believe that LinkedIn was going to sucker an employer — who was paying thousands to find the best job applicants — by putting me at the top of the applicant list just because I paid for it.

(Tomkins got the exact same pop-up ad six months ago, listing the same #2 and #3 profiles beneath his own. He notes they are in the “San Francisco Bay Area,” thousands of miles from his own location. You’d think LinkedIn would gin up a pitch that at least delivers “results” that include “candidates” from the same geographic area!)

Could LinkedIn be taking money from job seekers and misleading employers with fake applicant rankings? Thinking that Tomkins and I had somehow gotten this wrong, I did what any LinkedIn user might do: I contacted customer service.

A LinkedIn representative, LaToya (no last name given), explained via e-mail that, if I pay the $29.95, the advantage “is that your at the top of the list rather than listed toward the bottom as a Basic applicant. [sic]”

But what about those other poor suckers, the Basic applicants, who ride free — and whose qualifications might be better than mine?

And what about employers — don’t they get upset when they see someone paid to get bumped to the top of the list of applicants? Another customer service representative, Monica, told me that, “Unfortunately, there isn’t a way for the employer to turn this off.”

So job seekers pay for top billing, and the employer knows the top applicants paid for their positions because their names are highlighted and have a little badge beside them. (Wink, wink! You paid, but employers know you’re not really the top applicant!)

This is today’s leading website for recruiting and job hunting?

My inbox has about a half-dozen emails from LinkedIn, encourage me to pay up to $29/month to sign up for this premium service. I say, no thank you.

Nick Corcodilos goes on to say that LinkedIn has become a cheesy job board:

The changes came quickly. In summer of 2011, we were treated to “LinkedIn’s New Button: Instantly dumber job hunting & hiring.” A user merely clicked an on-screen button which made it ultra-easy to apply to lots of jobs, making it clear that quality of fit was certainly not a top concern. This was truly silly job-board-class “innovation,” to be outdone only by the more recent, meaningless “endorsements” that accomplish little but generate enormous numbers of profitable clicks and traffic for LinkedIn.

Lots more to consider in the post.

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