Is LinkedIn More Than A Job Board?

May 7th, 2010 | by Jason Alba |

Here’s a question I got from someone asking about the value of Monster in a job search:

(1) With LinkedIn’s new Company Follow feature, LI Recruiter/Premium Membership, LI Corporate Accounts and (2) of course the fact that most of its revenue comes from ads and job postings, (3) how is LinkedIn not a job board, beyond market positioning and product differentiation?

Wow, what a simple question that makes me think of complex responses!

FIRST POINT

LinkedIn’s features (and the new features that you mention, as well as the new job seeker upgrade level) are all great features for job seekers and those who are looking for job seekers.  However, if you aren’t a job seeker, or don’t want to find job seekers, LI can still provide immense value to you (as an entrepreneur, manager, etc.).  You can find people who can provide value as new customers, partners, investors, mentors, advisors, etc.  You can learn about your competition and your prospects… you can get market, company and industry intelligence (think: competitive intelligence).  You can connect with peers, strengthen individual relationships and strengthen your brand.

The magic of LinkedIn is that it can provide immense value to a professional whether you are in a job search or not.

It’s similar to the magic of a pixar movie, which is loved by children and adults alike (for different reasons – it’s simple and fun for kids but the messaging and communication and cleverness appeals to adults).

LinkedIn appeals to job seekers (and those in the job search space) as well as to those who are not in the job search.

SECOND POINT

You say that (of course) most of LinkedIn’s revenue comes from ads and job postings… I’m not sure if that is true… there are really very few job postings compared to a traditional job board, and I hope that those very few postings do not make up a significant portion of their revenues… if that is the case then LinkedIn doesn’t produce much revenues.  Perhaps that will grow, which is great, but I would guess that job postings represent a very small percentage of revenues.

I’ve always guessed that company and recruiter memberships make up the bulk of the revenue, or at least is one of the larger revenue streams for LI.  However, I’m sure the ads are good, considering the placement they get (horrible placement for the users, imho… it’s too busy).

So, I can’t really say with any authority if this is right, but my gut says this is a wrong assumption.

THIRD POINT

How is LinkedIn not a job board?  Most of my response is in the FIRST POINT, above.  I know lots of people think of LI as a place that unemployed people go but there are plenty of employed professionals on the site, actively using some of the features.

This goes back to the Pixar analogy, though… it’s really beautiful.  Since it is not designed to be a job board, or a tool solely for job seekers, but it attracts those in hiring capacities, it naturally attracts job seekers (who are told to network into their next opportunity).

So, I’d say it’s not a job board but it is a terrific tool for job seekers, because of the simple reason that it was not designed to be a tool for job seekers, but for professionals to network.

Thoughts?

  1. One Response to “Is LinkedIn More Than A Job Board?”

  2. By Adrian Chira on May 7, 2010 | Reply

    Hi Jason,

    I like the analogy with Pixar movies. It would be very sad if LinkedIn would become a job board because a lot of the existing features would remain unused. So here are some of the reasons I think that LinkedIn would never be just a job board:
    1. LinkedIn like any other tool is not what its founders meant to be but what the users use it for. As far as people want to find out answers to their questions (not necessarily related with landing a better job) and they use LinkedIn for this it cannot be a job board.
    2. The argument that the revenue stream comes from hiring companies does not stand up. There are many companies that have revenues from something else than their real business. Think of Google that has most of the revenues from advertising why we use it mostly for search. I would not think to Google as an advertising company but I think it is a search engine.
    3.Suppose that LinkedIn is a job board. While every person that has an account is looking for a job they have no reason to interact because they are competing on a limited number of jobs. This means that you will have nearly no connection in your network, no group interactions. The only interaction would be on the jobs posted. If you look now to LinkedIn users you see that the average user has about 150 connections (I divided the connections that are 2 degrees away from myself with my direct connections) and is enrolled in one or more groups, they are reading the answers section and participate in polls. The picture is totally different that what you would expect from a job board.

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