Today, LinkedIn announced a revamp of its profile pages around three core principles: simplify (the experience), grow (in terms of network, value add) and everyday (provide everyday utility)
In April, when the company announced its iPad app, they described their thinking about how to optimize the platform for mobile in terms of usage statistics, which show that most people use LinkedIn in the morning (the “coffee” session) and at the end of the day (the “couch” session). This signaled a bit of a turning point to me that I hadn’t really heard from them before: the awareness that the company really needed to think about the platform in a more user-centric way, and turn it from a chore into more of a pleasure, frankly.
That’s why today’s news is quietly important: the profile page is simpler, more visual. New blog content by thought leaders–from Arianna Huffington to Marcus Samuelsson to Altimeter Group’s very own Charlene Li–is intended to draw us in and keep us there. The ability to tag ourselves with skills–and, better yet, have our contacts endorse us–creates a much richer discovery mechanism for potential contacts and employers to use when they are looking for people with particular skills; say Ruby-on-Rails or data science.
So, in a nutshell, I see two things that are slowly unfolding: content, and connectedness. Both are critical for LinkedIn to build virality and effectively use and monetize the vast amount of data at its disposal.
What it Means for Individuals
Have you ever had a recruiter call you and say something like, “I see you have three years experience as a blah-blah product marketing manager at YourCompany. I have a terrific opportunity to be a blah-blah product marketing manager at AnotherCompany.”
Yes? And did you respond something to the effect that it was nice of them to call and everything, but, all things being equal, why would you leave one perfectly good job for a lateral, nearly-identical job? In a world characterized by emerging, fast-moving industries (think data science, for example), what you know and can do is as or more important than title and last position held. Especially if you are at all ambitious.
So it’s really becoming important to trick out your profile with your skills, especially because contacts can endorse you for them. This takes the cumbersome search aspects of LinkedIn and makes them a little more friendly. Imagine what happens when your profile contains a long list of skills, endorsed by your (high-quality) network? It becomes much easier to find you, and much easier to visualize your aptitude for that new, different position, based on the fact that you have a huge number of relevant and transferable skills endorsed by your community. Here’s a preview (see full sample profile at the end of this post):
What it Means for Business
Of course, if you’re looking for someone with that elusive mix of skills, or trying to understand what the most commonly correlated skills are with, for example, big data, data science or something equally emergent, now you–and your recruiter–have the ability to better understand what aptitudes may also be relevant and transferable. Says Brad Mauney, Senior Product Manager at LinkedIn, “The endorsements have almost become a collaborative filtering for the things you know and the things you should know for a specific job.”
To me, this is the most intriguing aspect of the redesign; it turns LinkedIn from a lagging indicator (what you have done) into a leading indicator (what you could do). That has the potential to be an extremely powerful asset–for individuals as well as institutions.
The revamped profile doesn’t completely satisfy my thirst for effective data visualization yet–there are still plenty of cumbersome steps to go through to get the information you need–but it does demonstrate that LinkedIn is finally focusing on its most important asset: you.