Often unanimously touted as the best thing to come to the employment industry since the fax, LinkedIn has a lot of things going for it, most obviously its popularity. Not everyone however is so enthusiastic about the professional network and its claimed list of benefits.
LinkedIn is often touted as the “professional” social network; the place adults about expanding their circle of business connections and occasionally stop to read a cheap “Top 7” blog post about how to “work smart” or “foster synergy”.
In actually though, the perception of LinkedIn being an effective marketing tool and the reality of the site stand out in striking contrast. In a satirically titled fashion, here is why LinkedIn is a Terrible, No-good, Rotten Networking Site:
1.LinkedIn Has More Spam Than A Doomsdayer’s Underground Bunker
LinkedIn however sends me on average 3-8 unsolicited messages a month, always flagging me of their arrival and falsely piquing my interest. Often times even after I view these spammy messages it takes a while for the “new message” notification to disappear. Regardless of this technical hiccup I find it atrocious that a networking site as large as LinkedIn can get away with such loose spam filters.
The Internet is full of spam, and for this reason social networking sites have to be very careful about how they go about filtering out unsolicited emails and offers being sent to users by strangers. Facebook does this quite well, as I rarely receive spam messages and if I do they go into my “other” folder. Overall it receives a “B” in spam filtering.
Google+ does an even better job, probably because it has the advanced spam defense mechanisms employed by its tried-and-tested Gmail service to help keep Google+ a fairly clean place, and if they do sell to me it’s much more relevant than my Linkedin inbox messages. Overall G+ gets a solid “A-” in spam control.
2. The Resume Builder Function Is More Bologne Than Business
Resume Genius resume experts recently did an in-depth study about he features of the heavily marketed LinkedIn Labs resume builder function. The findings were less than surprising (if you’ve ever made a resume on LinkedIn that is).
LinkedIn’s resume builder turned out to be more of a gimmick than anything else, producing “resumes” that were only real resumes in the loosest sense of the word. In reality, the resume created left Resume Genius experts cringing.
The gist of LinkedIn’s “resume builder” is that it just pulls easily formatted, generic information from your profile and puts it in the rough shape of a resume. The problem with this is that a social profile and a resume are uniquely different things.
This means the final resume created by LinkedIn’s software is muddled, generic, poorly formatted and messy. Read the entire analysis here.
For a company the size of LinkedIn’s, and with how many job seekers that rely on the site, you’d think they’d bring a more “finished” product to the table when releasing a resume builder function.
3. Can You Commercialize Trustworthiness? LinkedIn Tried
What’s the difference between a digital endorsement and a digital recommendation? We didn’t know either, until we explored LinkedIn’s recent “Endorsements” function a bit further.
LinkedIn Endorsements rolled out in late 2012 to initially dazzled reactions. Forbes reported over 10 million endorsements were being made every day. However, like many users, as soon as our moms and dads started endorsing us we soon realized that because of their one-click easy nature, these endorsements would have less and less value as time went on.
Sure enough, a year later and I have more endorsements than I know what to do with, and from people I don’t really know. How does this help me?
LinkedIn’s David Breger explained the function in a typically cheery marketing light; “…we are introducing Endorsements, a new feature that makes it easier to recognize them for their skills and expertise. With just one click, you can now endorse your connections for a skill they’ve listed on their profile or recommend one they haven’t added yet.” LinkedIn seems to have “McDonaldized” credibility.
Meanwhile they retained their “recommendations” function, where people who actually know you can write short recommendation paragraph to be displayed on your profile should you wish. Since these require actual thought and consideration they seem logical, and actually useful.
Now that you can “bulk endorse” by clicking on a grid of endorsement that LinkedIn has preselected for you in just a matter of seconds the feature has become a joke. Endorsements from bad sources made with little thought or effort are more detrimental than they are beneficial.
4. Apparently Privacy Zero-Sum Game, Unless You Pay
Face it, LinkedIn’s betrayal of your privacy – letting other people know if you’ve viewed their profile – is just a scam artist’s game to squeeze more cash out of you.
All of the other networking sites out there let you browse pages and profiles anonymously, because let’s face it, that’s why most people are visiting other people’s social profiles to begin with! You are seeking information or images you can’t readily obtained in “reality”.
That’s not the only complication caused by loose privacy settings. Professional conflicts of interest are inevitable. There are hundreds of possibilities in which browsing profiles as an HR Executive requires anonymity, and not having it could jeopardize careers, transitions or mergers.
LinkedIn is a private company, so they are free to demand money for what should be a basic service to their heart’s content. However, they shouldn’t be surprised if a savvier, less greedy company starts taking bites out of a fed up customer base.
Luckily LinkedIn does allow you to browse anonymously, but they make it difficult, requiring you to dig into your privacy settings a bit.
5. To Utilize Any Functions That Make LinkedIn Valuable You Have To Pay
The biggest problem with LinkedIn as a professional network is its fixation on monetization over actually connecting people. Sure, other major social networks have their own ways of making money, mostly through advertising, but users aren’t required to purchase a premium membership to gain access to what makes those sites great.
LinkedIn on the other hand is really rubbing pennies, both displaying ads and charging substantial sums just for basic functions.
For example, if you want to see the full name of a 3rd level connection you have to pay. Want to send a message to another LinkedIn user that isn’t in your network? Sorry, but you have to pay. Let other people have the honor of messaging you directly? Break out your credit card.
How much does it cost to use the networking functions of what is ostensibly a social network? Practical networking functions are yours for only US$19.95 for the smallest plan. Oh, yes and that’s billed annually of course.
Seeing how most positions are usually filled within 45 days of being posted, Linked knew they’d probably only be getting 2 months of premium membership out of users on average. So by billing annually they get a yearlong customer. Those lucky consumers are provided the full extend of a sub-par networking site long after they get hired.
Ultimately, there are obvious strengths in LinkedIn as a professional social network. Having a place to add people that you wouldn’t normally want to add to your more personal networks like Twitter or Facebook is handy. It’s also fun updating an official LinkedIn status to “employed” once you do find a new job.
However, the places that LinkedIn shines are not because of its inherent strength as a great tool, instead it’s because there is no site to compete with it. That’s right, LinkedIn wins as the dominant professional networking site only by default.
Google+ is already like a LinkedIn for marketers and blogging enthusiasts. It’s not hard to see that with some new functions added in a single update Google+ could easily eclipse LinkedIn in terms of free functionality. Until that day however, the world’s stuck with a professional network it knows is subpar but can’t or won’t do anything about.