July 22, 2013

LinkedIn Payola: Selling out employers and job hunters

Filed under: Job Search, Q&A, Readers' Forum, Recruiting, Resumes, Stuff I worry about, Stupid HR Tricks

Introduction

You’re an employer. You pay LinkedIn to search its profiles when you’re recruiting. Do you care that the job applicants who rise to the top of your search results paid for their positioning?

linkedin-top-of-listIn a sweeping 1950s music industry scandal, radio deejays were exposed for taking money — payola — from record promoters to play their record labels’ songs, regardless of popular tastes. Certain songs went up the charts because record labels paid for positioning.

Today, payola seems to be the name of the game on LinkedIn, where job hunters can pay $29.95 per month to “move to the top of the applicant list” when employers search LinkedIn profiles for recruiting.

In the radio scandal, the payments were secret. LinkedIn sells top position in recruiting search results shamelessly.


In the July 23, 2013 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader says LinkedIn is behaving immorally and unethically:

I received an e-mail from LinkedIn, with a vertical list of five or six firms and logos, suggesting that I could be interested in these jobs. One of them caught my attention and I applied. I simply clicked on the “View job” link, uploaded a copy of my resume, and clicked the submit button. Immediately, a very questionable pop-up appeared. For $29.95 per month, LinkedIn has offered to sell me an “upgrade” that will put me at the top of the results this employer will see when it searches the LinkedIn database for job applicants. I find this to be unethical and immoral. How about you?

Nick’s Reply

When Ask The Headhunter subscriber Richard Tomkins brought this to my attention (he graciously gave me permission to print his name), I had to see it for myself.

linkedin-pitch-nickSo yesterday I applied for a job listed in a LinkedIn e-mail about “Jobs you may be interested in.” The pop-up that appeared on my screen is on the right.

(Tomkins got the exact same pop-up 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!)

More suckers

I couldn’t believe that LinkedIn was going to sucker an employer — who paid to search LinkedIn profiles — by putting me at the top of the search results just because I paid for it.

“Move your job application to the top of the recruiter’s list!” in exchange for payola of $29.95, LinkedIn said to me.

While the employer is paying thousands to LinkedIn to search for applicants???

So I contacted LinkedIn, thinking that Tomkins and I had somehow gotten this wrong. Could LinkedIn be taking money from job seekers and fleecing employers with fake rankings?

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

So it’s true. LinkedIn sells positioning to job hunters while it sells database searches to employers. Talk about getting paid on both ends of a deal! Meanwhile, the “Basic” applicants (those other suckers, who ride free) are relegated to the bottom of the list.

I wrote back to LaToya: “Don’t the employers get upset when they see someone ‘paid’ to get bumped to the top?”

That was taken care of, explained LaToya: Employers “have the option to turn on and off the setting.”

So I buy top positioning in recruiting results for $29.95 per month, and the employer has the option to render my payment a total waste. The only winner is LinkedIn — higher revenues, higher stock price, higher corporate valuation, and more suckers paying. This is the leading website for recruiting and job hunting?

The Lance Armstrong league

But it seems there’s another loser in this game: LinkedIn, whose reputation just sank to the bottom of the job board swill pot. (Well, not the very bottom. That’s the sole purview of TheLadders.)

Another job board, CareerBuilder, used to offer top position in search results for $150. (CareerBuilder’s New Ad Campaign: What’s a sucker worth?) LinkedIn may call itself a business network, but now it’s just another job board.

LinkedIn recently awarded Tomkins a “blue ribbon” because his LinkedIn page is “in the top 10% of the most viewed entries.”

tomkins

But he is not happy:

“If I am in the top 10%, it’s not translating into more interviews, let alone a job. 20 million people got this award? That’s the size of big city or a small country. Should I laugh or cry? What significance does this really have to me? I was okay with their business model, up to the point when they became a job board. If your name is at the top of the list only because you paid for it, that puts you in the same league as Lance Armstrong.”

Tomkins guesses at how the professional network’s business model is likely to evolve next:

“What if three different applicants — all with premium accounts — apply for the same job? Who gets to be on top? Maybe they have another pop-up stacked up, one that offers the user a premium-plus-plus, extra-premium account for $300.”

Is a sucker endorsed every minute?

LinkedIn has turned the business of new product development into Project: Anything Goes.

LinkedIn used to be a credible business network that became the business network online — and potentially the standard-bearer for professional identity integrity. Since it started selling recruiting and “job seeker” services, it has slid down the slippery slope of inconsistent, slimy “offers” and business practices. A generous explanation is that one hand (LinkedIn marketing?) doesn’t know what the other (LinkedIn product management?) is doing.

(This is not LinkedIn’s first dumb move, or its last. Fast on the heels of LinkedIn’s New Button: Instantly dumber job hunting & hiring came the more ridiculous and gratuitous “endorsements,” which serve no purpose but to drive up traffic stats.)

But the question is, why are employers (who pay to access the database) and job seekers (who pay for database positioning) going along while LinkedIn sells them both out with this game of payola?

And where does it leave LinkedIn users who just want to meet one another to do business?

“Sheesh. I’m still pissed off,” says Tomkins. “I used to think of Linked In as a respectable website, but I have less respect for them now than Facebook.”

Have you paid LinkedIn for search-results position and “premium” standing? Does it pay off? If you’re an employer, how do you feel about paying to view search results that job applicants bought? Is this immoral, unethical, or the new standard of business?

: :

73 Comments on “LinkedIn Payola: Selling out employers and job hunters”
By George R. Goffe
July 23, 2013 at 2:04 am

I got this article the other day from computer world and I’m STUNNED. Am I reading this correctly? This is like having a credit bureau that has NO accountability. There’s a lot of room in this for bad things to happen.

Here’s the URL:

https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9240657/What_IT_recruiters_know_about_you_whether_you_re_looking_or_not_?source=CTWNLE_nlt_dailyam_2013-07-16

By George R. Goffe
July 23, 2013 at 2:07 am

More on topic, I’m dismayed to read this about Linked-in. I used to hold them in high regard but now… it looks like they’re just another sleaze bag company out to rip people off… Both the little guys (me for one) and the big guys (Corporations).

Incredible, simply incredible.

By Stephen Ermann
July 23, 2013 at 4:48 am

Can’t totally agree with the article – for once.

I see LinkedIn’s premium packages are a way for job seekers, like myself, to get access to a number of valuable features. The ones I mostly use are:

– the ability to see who viewed my profile provides interesting information about successful my contact actions are;

– the “InMail” messages to anyone on LinkedIn works quite well for me, allowing me contact people inside the companies I am targeting;

– and the “Reference Search” is quite useful in finding a friend who might know the person you are trying to reach.

I usually do not apply to jobs using LinkedIn, but try reaching out to the hiring manager directly, so the “featured applicant” status has no value to me.

I will agree with you that the “featured applicant” feature on its own is problematic – why would $29.95 a month make you a better candidate than someone who didn’t pay?

But $29.95 a month becomes quite OK when considering the value all the services provided, at least in my eyes…

LinkedIn is (was?) more than a job board, and paying for premium features that really help me does not bother me.

By Nick (not the headhunter)
July 23, 2013 at 6:04 am

Believe it or not, but LaToya rhymes with Payola :)

By SF
July 23, 2013 at 6:23 am

Do you have to be on LinkedIn? I’m not except for a fake bare bones profile, which I use for research. It seems to me that when you put your information on LinkedIn, you lose control of your message. If at some point you want or need to retarget your career, you have shot yourself in the foot with LinkedIn. The internet never forgets.

By John Francini
July 23, 2013 at 6:55 am

I’m beginning to think that single-purpose websites (which is what LinkedIn was at the outset) suffer the same problem as single-purpose television networks (like the Science Channel, the History Channel, TLC (originally The Learning Channel), etc.

TVTropes.org calls it “network decay”. This is when a network, in search of that all-important 18-49 year old male demographic, abandons its niche and expands its programming into fields which has NO connection with its initial mission.

LinkedIn is doing the same thing. It was JUST FINE as a place for professionals to link to one another, and for job searchers to connect with companies.

But since they’ve gone public, they’ve been trying to walk the tightrope of both keeping their core professional demographic while also trying to be a more generic social-networking site. Sorry, folks, you can’t have it both ways.

By Matt Bud
July 23, 2013 at 7:38 am

There was an article in the New York Times by Tom Friedman recently about how the Internet related job market is broken on both sides.

Applicants get very low responses to submissions of their resumes to employers, so they feel no remorse to “click and shoot” at every ad that is remotely of interest. On the employer side, it is nearly impossible to get through 500 or more resumes submitted online, so they assign their lowest level recruiter to go through this mess, ensuring that many qualified individuals will be missed in the process due to the “forest for the trees” problem.

LinkedIn has now added to this mess by taking their very credible website and turning it into just another source of “junk mail.”

Sad to see.

Regards, Matt

Matthew R. Bud
Chairman
The Financial Executives Networking Group
32 Gray’s Farm Road
Weston, CT 06883

MattBud@TheFENG.org
(203) 227-8965 Office Phone
(203) 820-4667 Cell
(203) 227-8984 Fax

The Power of Networking. The Power of Friendships.

By Addie
July 23, 2013 at 7:46 am

This post is a great community service! Thanks so much for this. I forwarded it on to two friends who recently asked me to connect with them on LinkedIn. I declined because of one of your previous posts mentioning LinkedIn had become an ordinary jobs board.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 23, 2013 at 7:57 am

@Stephen Ermann: There’s no problem with paying for the services you like to use. The problem is that LinkedIn sells search results to employers while they let members buy top positioning in those results. That’s a conflict that cuts both ways.

By Reginald Gite
July 23, 2013 at 8:34 am

I guess I’m not surprised, although very disappointed. I assumed LinkedIn to be a premier website for linking with employers. Why is it that some of us are so quick to throw our ethics away for a mere few dollars I will never understand?

By Lucille
July 23, 2013 at 8:48 am

So what do we do now? When LinkedIn started it was a way to network with other people I had worked with. I still am only connected to people I know and respect. I’m still able to network amoungst my contacts and ask for recommendations. I still get emails from LinkedIn when their situations change, so I can say hi and congratulations. LinkedIn’s original mission still has value to me.

But I am deeply disturbed to read about these charges.

By Peter
July 23, 2013 at 9:01 am

I am a recruiter, have been for quite a few years.
Seems to me the job board practice of paying for position (‘payola’ when Music companies paid DJs for position and a lot of folks went to jail)is grossly unethical. It’s like a recruiter (who is paid by the company just as the job boards are) taking a kickback from a second-rate ‘candidate’ to present him (with a straight face) to his client as ‘the perfect candidate for job X.”

Two questions:
Does a company that takes money from both sides have any loyalty to either side?
Does anyone but a Corporate Talent Acquisition Specialist believe that finding a suspect on a job board is recruiting?

By don
July 23, 2013 at 9:05 am

This is disappointing news. I’ve been a member of LinkedIn, before I was a recruiter. early adopter. As a recruiter I did/do use it for sourcing & they just went a long way to discredit the results. I’d considered doing the upgrade a # of times for the reasons Stephen Erman mentioned, as the primary reason I use LinkedIn is to use it as a networking tool, to help me manage my network. And I can still use it for that.
What I really found annoying and useless was the other point mentioned. The Endorsements. mailbox cloggers, people endorsing me for attributes they can’t possibly judge as they’ve never worked with me. I was beginning to think they were randomly generated by LinkedIn rather than the people.
The prior approach of someone you know taking the time to write a personal recommendation was much better, though the reciprocity often involved watered them down a bit (I write one for you, you write one for me) .

By Lucille
July 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

While we are on the subject, LinkedIn charges content providers to disseminate their content.
http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/23/linkedin-sponsored-updates/

By John Zabrenski
July 23, 2013 at 9:26 am

This user paid elevation in the search results that the hiring company can turn off and ignore looks both like fraud and class action lawyer bait to me. The whole thing looks like a good case for the new federal consumer protection agency to pursue.

By Virginia Leek
July 23, 2013 at 9:30 am

I recently subscribed to the ‘premium’ status on LinkedIn upon the status of ‘Job Seeker’. I took the free month trial & the withdraw of funds per-month is a big downside that I have seen no significant return from opening up my audience of being boosted to the top of the list. I read the ‘job seeker’ page posts on occasion but other than that…it’s a bit like a stake out to see who’s looked at your page. Strangely voyueristic.

However, I peruse my page & have yet to get decidedly ‘active’ to generate direct connections & open up my network potential of my ‘premium’ status. I can see this as a long-term benefit but like Facebook it is a bind to maintain. Striving to generate consistent & ongoing interest, engagement, posts & activity is work & takes valuable time to maintain. Maybe I jumped the gun on that ‘trial’ offer & am now thinking to bail…that’s my the cost of my cable bill after all! I find myself wondering if meeting people in person isn’t more valuable & definitely more fulfilling! The money-scamming of LinkedIn is morally unfounded…we’re not all big-wigs that can ‘dispose’ of $30 a month without re-framing priorities and budgeting our concerns.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 23, 2013 at 9:46 am

LinkedIn started out as a great idea: The biggest phonebook in the world. A repository of resumes and professional information that people and companies could share for their mutual benefit.

There was so much that LinkedIn could have done to innovate based on this.

But LinkedIn didn’t. After it hired some of the top marketers, salespeople, and brand builders in the world, LinkedIn decided to go public. It brought in a new team of boiler-room telemarketers and dumped the crew whose job was to build business through integrity. I know some of those people and I’ve heard the story firsthand.

LinkedIn blew it. I’d like someone to name one innovation that has come out of LinkedIn since it went public. There are none. Endorsements? Facebook already had sheep. Job listings? Monster had that covered. Recommendations? You can find these on any good discussion forum.

LinkedIn’s new management team quickly added every me-too business gimmick it could think of. And squandered a phenomenal opportunity to continue building the top professional network in the world.

Instead, it throws sheep at its members.

+ Pay for position in search results
+ Use kludgy InMail (and pay for it) when free e-mail works better without the middle man
+ Send useless endorsements to boost network traffic
+ Add your entire Outlook list to your LinkedIn account to boost member count
+ Spam your friends with boilerplate invitations
+ Here’s your daily list of jobs, most of them involving sheep shearing
+ And so it goes

LinkedIn is milking a database by selling out its users on both sides of the fence: employers and job seekers. From here, it seems pretty clear that LinkedIn is now run by marketers who are scraping the bottom of the gimmick tank to squeeze out more traffic and more revenue. Just how much are 10 more InMails really worth?

BTW, where did the assumption come from, that every LinkedIn member must be looking for a job? Over half of LinkedIn’s revenues today come from the sale of licenses to employers to search its database. If you’re a member, you need to ask yourself what you’re getting out of that.

LinkedIn still provides the best phonebook on the planet. There is immense value in using its database. But lately it takes an awful lot of time to wipe off the slime every day after using it.

By J.C.
July 23, 2013 at 10:54 am

I do not pay for anything related to my job hunting. How can people you never worked with endorse you for skills? I’ll admit I’ve jumped on that bandwagon and I regret it. And who can forget the hacking of LinkedIn a while ago when everyone was encouraged to change their password. I like the research capability of the site but I look forward to the day when I can contact Mountain View to delete my account.

By Lee Murach
July 23, 2013 at 11:09 am

If LinkedIn operated as a fully paid service requiring applicants to pay to post their resumes and requiring payment from employers to search the database, then LinkedIn’s business practices would be above reproach. So what is the ethical lapse? Precisely this: allowing applicants to post their resumes for free.

By VP Sales
July 23, 2013 at 11:17 am

NIck

Im going to apply your “search for a company, not a job” mantra here.

Shouldn’t you think about what it means if a company is using LinkedIn to recruit for professional positions? To me, that means a lazy manager with no focus on staffing. The end result of hiring is predictable.

In my humble experience, good managers spend a fraction of time (varies by industry, but never less than 15%) filling their pipeline with candidates so that they are always short-listed with professional staff, not using large fishing nets to troll the ocean.

LinkedIn is a great ‘keep in touch’ tool – not a hiring tool.

By Don
July 23, 2013 at 11:24 am

To me it’s alway’s been just a big ass kissing site. I’ve worked with people who I didn’t get along with but to get a good rating, they gave me raving reviews. hoping I would do the same for them. If you guys want to blow $30 with the illusion that it will help you get a job, spend away, I’m keeping my money.

By Richard Tomkins
July 23, 2013 at 11:25 am

It’s just wrong.

LinkedIn created specific unethical functionality in their product, and then encouraged me to compromise my ethics for their profits.

An earlier poster remarked that their premium packages were useful, so they looked the other way. That is wrong.

If the premium offerings are so good, then make the effort to promote those ethical features of the product and drop the cheap money grab scam.

Corporations operate as living entities, enabling them to survive the death of their founders and continue to employ people.

Corporations should always operate with the highest ethics, for the common public good, after all, real people are the most important members of society.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 23, 2013 at 12:08 pm

@Lee Murach:

**So what is the ethical lapse? Precisely this: allowing applicants to post their resumes for free.**

I think the recruitment advertising business has become so corrupt that the most obvious ethical lapses blow right by people.

For 30 bucks, LinkedIn will move you “to the top of the list” of job applicants to companies that pay to use LinkedIn to recruit people. This offer violates the integrity of the application and databas search process that LinkedIn promotes to employers (and charges them to use).

The more important point here: Employers are stupid and HR has no problem paying for tainted lists.

By Chris Wardle
July 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Adding insult to injury is the fact that in both cases, Nick and Richard’s premium ranking sees them ahead of the exact same #2 and #3 candidates.

Makes me wonder how candidates Costa (#2) and Beckstrand (#3) feel about that?

By Nick Corcodilos
July 23, 2013 at 12:20 pm

@VP Sales: You’re raising a bigger issue. How managers recruit. When you search a database, you hire who comes along. That’s not recruiting. As you point out, that’s lazy. Worse, it’s passive. It’s not just passive job hunters that are a challenge. Passive employers are far worse. You might wind up working for one if he or she finds you!

A good manager knows what he or she wants/needs, and goes out and meets people in the community he/she wants to recruit from. Scanning profiles ranks right up there with washing your hands with rubber gloves on.

By Nick Corcodilos
July 23, 2013 at 12:25 pm

@Chris Wardle: I was wondering how long it would take someone to realize that LinkedIn’s “rankings” of Richard and me include the exact same #2 and #3 candidates.
In “searches” done 6 months apart! Obviously, that pop-up is a marketing image, not a real search.

But consider this: When you’re pitching to prospects, do you really want to use an old, static image to convey the power of a powerful, dynamic search engine? Cheap is the word that comes to mind. Why doesn’t LinkedIn serve up an actual results screen? (That’s a trick question.)

By Job Hunter
July 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm

I just –and I mean —just got off LinkedIn to renew my job search, thinking “This will be the ONLY social media I’ll use this time…” since I loathe using job boards to find real jobs. Then I get off the site, satisfied at my decision only to find this newsletter pertaining to LinkedIn. I feel sick at learning this, that they too have jumped on this band wagon. That means I’m back to square one in searching for a decent job with REAL pay, but relieved that you just saved me a good 3-4 hours pumping up this aspect of my life in an effort to seek good employment. Thank you for bringing this to our attention!

By Dave G.
July 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Thanks Nick for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

Although the big issue here is LinkedIn slimy conflict of interest and what it means to candidates and companies who are paying for better results than that, this is also a good opportunity to use your pulpit to remind people that “applying for a job by clicking on a button” is the third dumbest approach you can take…

…trailing only “PAYING to apply for a job by clicking on a button” and “paying TWICE to apply for a job by clicking on a button!”

By L.T.
July 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Long before I spent $30 to have my resume pushed to the top of some phantom list, I’d engage an agent to get me a contract at a company I wanted to work with.

I don’t know what this would be worth, but let’s say 15%. I’d gladly write a check for $150,000 of my signing bonus and an annual check of $37,500 over 5 years to the agent who brought me a contract with the right company and the right numbers.

Exclusive of honest headhunters (Nick and maybe a handful of others), the rest of the time you are dealing with “Dialing for Dollars Recruiters” and job-board ponzi scams.

By Clare Powell
July 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Nick, you are the real deal. I tell every candidate, and every client, and all my job seeking pals to subscribe to and READ your newsletters. You always nail the fakes, point out the snakes, and hand out a serious amount of reality.

Job hunting is a grind, often depressing, sometimes amusing and hopefully, eventually, rewarding. Nick, your newsletter helps keep people in the game, aware of how it is played and how to win… all while giving us moments of truly amusing truths.

Share this folks, as way too many people put stock in LinkedIn as a job search tool…and it was, once, but it is no more. Booyah to Nick and Tomkins for this fabulous post!

By Nic
July 23, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I for one am on no social media and that includes Linkedin. It would be a cold day in hell before I would pay anyone or a job social media site of all God forsaken entities to put me to the top of their so-called list. In my view, …I will sit on my hands.

I have one thing to say about this ridiculousness and that is

P.T. Barnum was right.

By Doug MacDonald
July 23, 2013 at 7:28 pm

So why use that feature? LinkedIn’s use to me is mainly as a place to mine for useful information and to ask for advice occasionally. Just use the parts you like, most of which are part of a basic subscription. And tell your friends to do the same. Eventually even they will catch on.

By Doug MacDonald
July 23, 2013 at 7:30 pm

> Eventually even they will catch on.
meaning, even LinkedIn

By Citizen X
July 23, 2013 at 9:11 pm

. . . and just when I thought it was safe to finally post my photo . . .

At the urging of volunteers at my public library, I finally created a LinkedIn account probably a year or so ago.

I’ve been recovering from clinical depression since early 2009 when I lost my well-paying job. One of the reasons I fell so quickly into depression (a matter of weeks) was the belief that in order to be even vaguely considered for re-employment, I was going to have to fork over considerable amounts of cash that I didn’t have.

Fortunately, my lawyer/daughter talked me out of this, but I still have the horrible feeling that I’m missing out somehow, even though I know in my heart of hearts that this is entirely untrue.

It didn’t take too long to resist trying LinkedIn’s free 30-day trial, not only because I believed that it would not make any difference, but because I know how easy it is for free trials to become unwanted billings if you don’t keep both eyes on the calendar.

The response I’ve gotten after carefully crafting my work history for this site is pretty much the same for any job board, especially the “new, improved” one run by the state in which I live: almost zero.

In five years, I’ve received almost that many phone calls, all for jobs nobody wants.

I have just three positive things to report:
1) Recovery from depression is going well
2)I found my “survival job” the old-fashioned way (answering an ad in the Sunday Paper)
3)I’ve not spent one penny “to get noticed” or “be moved to the top of the pile”

I’m so glad that I didn’t spend money on a photographer to put a headshot on this site.

By RE
July 23, 2013 at 9:48 pm

And there’s more junk coming – this announced today at http://marketing.linkedin.com/blog/introducing-linkedin-sponsored-updates

“Introducing LinkedIn Sponsored Updates”
Companies can pay to have their content show up on our front pages. Grrr …

By Jim Dunphy
July 24, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Linked in has been offering this for quite a while, why are people acting so shocked and surprised? It also isn’t a surprise that a business is trying to increase it’s revenue. I tried the premium service for a couple of months and didn’t find it added any value, but I know people who have found it useful.

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By Michaelgav
July 25, 2013 at 8:44 am

@CitizenX: I’m glad your recovery is going well, and that you were able to land a job. I have to tell you, though, that there is an approach that is far more effective than job boards or newspaper ads, and it’s the one Nick has developed and shares in his asktheheadhunter.com website and in his books. I am 56, and just came back from a year of chemotherapy-related unemployment, and Nick’s approach worked better for me than I could have hoped. Please spend the weekend on Nick’s site, soaking up as much free advice as you can, and give his approach a try. Very few people are willing to do the work, but for those of us who do, the results are well worth the effort. Good luck.

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By Dave Nerz
July 25, 2013 at 10:13 am

If users understood LinkedIn there would be outrage. I think that most people believe their pages can only be viewed by connections and that is not true. LinkedIn sells the enterprise editions that let anyone paying the price see everyone and you don’t even know you have been viewed.

It is a head scratcher when you really think about it. Until the word gets out, buy LinkedIn stock but only if you are OK with making money from their flawed ethical approach.

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By Sam
July 25, 2013 at 7:51 pm

I’ve been getting disgusted with LinkedIn for quite a while. They put in incentives for people to build a “network” of thousands of people they will never meet, then encourage people to endorse the skills of said strangers. Bad enough, but then they have been killing the features that brought value: LI Answers, LI Signal, LI Events, LI Skills, LI Companies (now a shell of its former self), etc. etc. It seems that the greedniks have taken over; public be damned.

By Sam
July 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm

BTW, Nick, it seems that despite all their nonsense, “experts” are reluctant to call them out. Just like in The Emperor’s New Clothes, these experts continue to remark about the fine wardrobe of LI. Thanks for pointing out that LI is, in fact, naked.

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By Robyn Feldberg
August 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

I didn’t like it when CareerBuilder.com offered its premium placement service, and I don’t like that LinkedIn has resurrected this deplorable practice. It’s nothing more than a scheme to make money and a disservice to employers, job seekers, and people working in the careers industry. I understand that LinkedIn is a business with expenses and that they need to make a profit, but in my humble opinion, this is going to do nothing but hurt their reputation and eventually their bottom line. Relationships are built on trust, and you simply can’t trust a company that engages in unethical business practices, and yes, I think this is unethical.

By marybeth
August 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thanks for the intel Nick. I’m on LinkedIn (was advised to join when I was getting through from my last job by a career counselor–was told that, to employers, if you’re not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist, and I’ve seen that theme reiterated recently in an online article with specific reasons why employers aren’t hiring recent college grads AND in my dad’s American Legion magazine, which gives advice to military veterans making the transition to the civilian workforce). I’d seen the ads on LinkedIn to buy the “premium”, but didn’t know what it was and since I’m still underemployed, I ignored it. I didn’t realize that they’re “double-dipping”, hitting both users/job seekers and employers. It is just another way for them to generate revenue, and that’s too bad because what made them different was that they were the professional networking site, and now they’re no different from the other job board-like sites (Nick had an article a while back about being able to apply for jobs online through LinkedIn). And this selling of top billing doesn’t guarantee that the best person will get his/her name to the top, only that whoever has the money to pay for it will. Employers who expect to find the top talent on LinkedIn had better ramp up their internal recruiting and/or find good headhunters rather than relying on LinkedIn; this is becoming the lazy way to find talent.

By Nick (not linked to the headhunter either)
August 5, 2013 at 9:36 am

An interesting article on the company:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/linkedin-has-changed-the-way-businesses-hunt-talent/2013/08/04/3470860e-e269-11e2-aef3-339619eab080_story.html

By aboutcallcard.com Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?
August 13, 2013 at 11:40 am

[…] Since I first wrote about this, LinkedIn has confirmed that you can pay to move your application to the top of the […]

By Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike? – PBS | Phase In Out
August 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

[…] Since I first wrote about this, LinkedIn has confirmed that you can pay to move your application to the top of the […]

By Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?
August 13, 2013 at 9:38 pm

[…] Since we first wrote about this, LinkedIn has confirmed that we can compensate to pierce your focus to a tip of a recruiter’s […]

By Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike? – PBS NewsHour | Phase In Out
August 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm

[…] Since I first wrote about this, LinkedIn has confirmed that you can pay to move your application to the top of the […]

By Ask The Headhunter: Is LinkedIn Cheating Employers and Job Seekers Alike?
August 14, 2013 at 9:57 pm

[…] Since I first wrote about this, LinkedIn has confirmed that you can pay to move your application to the top of the […]

By Suzanne Levison
August 18, 2013 at 11:27 am

What an eye opener! As an experienced recruiter/executive search consultant, I see the strategy in this money grabbing scheme, but not effective results.

By Scott Sullivan
August 25, 2013 at 1:16 pm

And how is this different from execunet? You slammed The Ladders pretty readily. Maybe job hunters should stand up and push back.

By Jarret Minkler
September 2, 2013 at 10:51 pm

There is another scandal going on … People keep recommending me for “Ruby on Rails” – I do not have this listed in my profile. It happens over and over, and can’t be stopped in some cases.

Seems linkedin it trying to provoke other people into promoting you for skills similar to your skill set. If you have them or not.

By V. Snow
September 10, 2013 at 9:40 am

Wasn’t it in the early 80’s that the Dept. of Labor made it illegal for job agencies, and the like, to charge any fees from candidates? How is this sheep in wolves clothing any different? I don’t pay fees/payola, nor will I. Unfortunately, I’m still job hunting and can’t afford fees even if I wanted to.

By Lauren
September 12, 2013 at 3:00 am

I’m sorry if this has already been mentioned (I’m not reading through all of the comments!), but the whole thing is a bit pointless. If a company advertises a role on LinkedIn, the application is generally just transfered directly to the company’s Applicant Tracking System. This means that the $29.95 the candidate just paid is rendered useless, as this ranking system does not carry across to the ATS. Good on LinkedIn for trying to make more money – they are a company whose goal is to make money (like any company, am I right?). If candidates are willing to pay the (completely unnecessary) $29.95, why not?

By Michaelgav
September 12, 2013 at 7:50 am

@Lauren: You said, “If candidates are willing to pay the (completely unnecessary) $29.95, why not?”

Maybe because LinkedIn isn’t disclosing how it works, or explaining that the 30 bucks they just extracted from someone who may well be unemployed at the moment won’t do what they told them it will.

You’re right that the goal of any company is to make money. There are ethical ways to do it, and there are other, sketchier ways. LinkedIn has made its choice. You’ve chosen to applaud them for it. I don’t think it’s pointless for people who feel differently to call them on it.

By Nick Corcodilos
September 12, 2013 at 12:54 pm

@Michaelgav: Thanks for the answer I’d have delivered to Lauren. Since when is it good business practice to sucker people just because they behave like suckers? Not taking advantage of people may not always be covered in the law, but that’s why we talk about business ethics.

By Lauren
September 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm

@Michaelgav & @Nick: I’m certainly not saying that LinkedIn should treat candidates like suckers – they should definitely be more upfront about what paying the $29.95 involves. However candidates also need to take a bit more responsibility and do some research into it themselves, rather than relying on companies (ie. LinkedIn) to be forthcoming about what they’re getting for their money. I’d encourage anyone, whether they’re a candidate or not, to be an informed consumer. LinkedIn aren’t charging candidates to apply for jobs, they’re just giving them the option to ‘highlight’ their application.

By Nick Corcodilos
September 12, 2013 at 9:47 pm

@Lauren: Sorry, but it’s quite clear that LinkedIn is charging users to apply for jobs. But because people can get that on Monster, too, LinkedIn is sweetening the pitch with positioning that doesn’t really work. It’s a sham. Consumers need to be more informed and smart, and that’s the purpose of this column: To help them see what LinkedIn is selling and what they really get for their money.

But I agree with you on one point (which I think you’re making – maybe I’m wrong): People need to go find jobs directly, not through some goofy database trick.

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – Executive Search: Don’t pay lazy headhunters
September 16, 2013 at 9:59 pm

[…] discussed TheLadders, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and other job boards that charge fees to job seekers — and then charge employers. (You […]

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – LinkedIn For Kids: The biggest lead-gen pimp on the Internet
September 23, 2013 at 8:58 pm

[…] a hot IPO behind it, LinkedIn’s management team rushed head-long into silly commercialization, betting that its public relations campaigns could keep its reputation afloat — while the […]

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January 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

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By Jonathan Whiffin
March 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Well I am so happy not to be the only one who thinks Skankedin is a rip off and almost like a cult.

As for it being any good as a job board – well there are a couple of decent(ish) jobs hereabouts which have received 2 applicants and are flagged up as “hidden gems”.

Why was Skankedin hiding them when the listing had been paid for and SK is meant to be the #1 job hunters choice here in the UK?

Answers anyone?

Great blog by the way

By Nick Corcodilos
March 3, 2014 at 5:44 pm

@Jonathan: When we toasted TheLadders stateside for its behavior, lots of UK readers reported similar stories about TheLadders in the UK. So it’s no surprise our friends over there share our concerns about LinkedIn. I don’t think there are any answers you’d want to hear. “Higher profits, anyone?”

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – Help! I’m a floundering headhunter!
August 4, 2014 at 11:04 pm

[…] LinkedIn is little more than a fancy phone book. Everyone is in it, but consulting it isn’t recruiting. As you can see, a list of 14 million people and their data is useless in itself. And the job boards deliver swill by the bucket. The reason a company uses a headhunter like you is that this takes hard work and there are no shortcuts. That’s where the huge headhunter fees originated – for all the hard work. Those professional “sourcers” you mentioned — they actually identify appropriate candidates in very challenging industries, and that’s more than half the work of headhunting. Of course they want half your fee! The online shortcuts just don’t do it. […]

By Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – LinkedIn: Busted for U.S. wage law violations, sued for “injury” to users
August 6, 2014 at 5:11 pm

[…] LinkedIn has taken a lot of heat from its users for its practice of cleverly scraping addresses from their private e-mail directories, and then spamming their contacts repeatedly with solicitations to “connect” on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has also been accused of conflict of interest because it charges employers to search its database for the best job candidates — while LinkedIn also charges members for “premium” positioning in those search results. (See LinkedIn Payola: Selling out employers and job hunters.) […]

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