Thursday, April 12, 2012
- Linked Out
I'm not a member of Linked In. Like all social networking applications, it's devotees are fanatical. But I'll pass thanks. I don't like the idea of being so exposed.
I understand how it might be useful for the guys just breaking into the business and don't have much of a network yet. But my friends in the business are all mid to high level guys so they are mostly skeptical too. My one friend Rob calls it an indicator of unemployment. When someone get's fired (which happens an awful lot lately in my world) the first thing that happens is they ping everyone they've ever met on Linked in. So he uses it to determine which firms are cutting back and in which areas. (There is probably a trade in that data now that I think about it.)
But since my networking skills were always relatively poor, I remain convinced that it would be less use for me. Everyone always thinks I'm very smart, but I'm not particularly likeable. And people only do favors for people they like. To get a referral from LinkedIn requires getting favors. And in the age of Obama, just being profitable isn't worth what it used to be - politics is more important than it ever was.
With that said, I think I get it. The idea of Linked-In is to replace the role of headhunters, some of whom can be abysmal both for the employers and applicants. (One particularly reprehensible headhunter called the Broadreach Group - which came across for me more like condescending coke addled prep school kids than anything else - immediately springs to mind.)
For employers they charge painfully high fees, and most don't know enough about the business to provide any value added filtering at all. So beyond the lowest level jobs they're nothing more than an expensive clearinghouse for resumes - so I'm not surprised that someone would want to do away with them.
And evev though they aren't paying the fees, from the applicant point of view if can be just as bad. Most will only send you to the people who interview everyone so after you deal with one headhunter you've dealt with most by proxy. But many of those that have other contacts aren't much better.
An applicant has two resources, time and ... let's call it determination. On the latter, you don't want to hear no 1,000 times before you hear yes. So you really only want to talk to those people who have a reasonably good chance of hiring you. But headhunters can be notoriously wasteful of both of these applicant resources.
I had one headhunter which would send me to all his best clients for low level operational or technology positions, even though they didn't want or need someone as senior as me. His thinking was that when it came down to marketing he could use my resume to establish his credibility, even though it did nothing but waste my time.
There are others, although fewer than you would expect, who are complicit in the 'researching shopping" that some firms use. Those firms interview everyone "just to see what they're doing", and knowing this, the headhunters make a point of sending by anyone who has built a strategy that sounds unusual or hard to categorize.
Anyway, I see how there is a market for something like LinkedIn, lord knows it's an inefficient market. But I still can't get comfortable with it. Word of mouth has been the thing to get me most of my jobs, and although many (maybe most) headhunters are awful, I do know a few who I've come to rely on and have relationships with. There are still people out there whose word means something.
At present it looks like I won't be changing jobs for a while, if I'm doing any hiring I'll go to people I know. So for the time being, I'm staying Linked - Out.