Saturday, September 29, 2012

LinkedIn - Your Recruitment Solution and Your Learning Community?

The success of LinkedIn has been quite remarkable. The figures speak for themselves. In the second quarter of 2012 LinkedIn revenues were $228.2 million, an increase of 89% compared to $121.0 million in the second quarter of 2011. In my personal view businesses and individuals are only just beginning to see the benefits of LinkedIn as a platform and I suspect we will see significant growth in the next few years. I have outlined a couple of areas below where I suspect LinkedIn will have a major impact on HR and learning communities, if it is not already.

LinkedIn - Your Corporate Recruitment and Talent Management Solution?

Of particular interest to the HR community will be the growth of LinkedIn's recruitment services which had second quarter revenue of $121.6 million, an increase of 107% compared to the second quarter of 2011. Recruitment revenues represented 53% of total revenue in the second quarter of 2012.

LinkedIn's growth is beginning to have a marked impact on the corporate talent management market. According to Bersin "LinkedIn’s revenues in the corporate recruiting market are now larger than Taleo (just acquired by Oracle for $1.9 Billion), SuccessFactors (just acquired by SAP for $3.4 billion), Kenexa, and nearly every other software company which sells recruiting solutions."

LinkedIn are actively targeting this market with their new Talent Pipeline service. Their second quarter report noted this had been rolled out to all LinkedIn Recruiter customers and stated "in less than three months, Recruiter customers have already added more than one million prospective candidates into Talent Pipeline, enhancing their ability to quickly identify and hire new talent for their organizations."

It does not take a big leap of imagination to see LinkedIn services such as Talent Pipeline being integrated with other corporate HR solutions including learning management systems.  With developments such as Open Badges, the learning you undertake on an LMS could be added automatically to your LinkedIn profile. There are already plugins for popular e-portfolio tools such as Mahara which cross link your LinkedIn profile with your e-portfolio. Mozilla’s new free and open source “Open Badges” software to issue, manage and display digital badges for learning across the Web will also be integrated into Totara LMS, the corporate distribution of Moodle. It will be interesting to see how this develops.

LinkedIn - A Place for your Learning Community?

One of the major successes of LinkedIn has been the growth in online communities or LinkedIn groups. There are currently over 2m such groups.

These groups can be open or private. Whilst they can only be owned by individuals not companies, company groups can be run by individuals. A number of companies are actively using private LinkedIn groups as a place for social networking and as learning communities. One of the big advantages is that many people are already members of LinkedIn, thus rather than creating a separate community platform and hoping people will come, you can go to where people already are and set up your own LinkedIn learning community.

I have shared below some of our experience of setting up and running a LinkedIn group. I don't pretend that we know all the answers and I am sure there is a lot we can do to improve our group. However, it might be interesting if you are thinking of setting up your own LinkedIn group.

At Kineo we set up a group to focus on learning technology developments called ELearning Professionals, which currently has over 5,000 members. Our aim was to get together a like minded group that would share their experiences of e-learning and how learning technologies are helping to improve performance.

We were conscious that managing a group is no easy task as there is the danger of being hijacked by opportunistic marketing teams, recruiters, jobseekers and event promoters. There are many examples of such groups on LinkedIn, and the quantity of members can detract from the quality of the discussions.We wanted high quality discussions on things of interest to learning and technology professionals, in essence discussions that added value to the members.

We therefore decided to have a private group so we could try to filter people to ensure the group had members genuinely interested in learning solutions and not those more interested in recruitment and promotion activities. Apologies if you are one of these people but we have declined over 600 applications to join the group so far, most have job responsibilities such as recruitment or marketing. Some people do mail to follow up why they have been declined and we enter into a dialogue about why they want to join and we do allow some of these people to join subsequently. If you are setting up a corporate group your task of filtering members will be easier though you still have to manage those that leave the company.

On joining our Group we have some simple rules for Members such as please don't post jobs, advertise solutions or promote general events. Despite these rules some people post the same job or advertisement to dozens of LinkedIn forums including our own. They have no interest in community or contributing to discussions. Initially we removed these posts and mailed the person to ask them to desist from such activity. Unfortunately a fair number just continued to spam the group and every other group on LinkedIn. These were deleted. We now take a tougher line, if people brazenly break the group rules we simply remove them as members and they can reapply if they wish.

I think on balance this approach is working, though it means daily monitoring and moderation. As with all communities we do need to do more to actively generate discussions and to encourage sharing. Still it is early days.