Company of the Year: LinkedIn
As its core market begins to crowd, LinkedIn has quietly diversified itself in the past year, building more than just a career networking service.
Talent solutions, premium subscriptions and recruitment services.
Video learning and sponsored updates.
A year after a $26.2 billion acquisition by Microsoft, LinkedIn's efforts to push into employee training make it a dual threat to competitors in both the HR hiring and L&D markets.
Every HR professional worth his or her salt knows LinkedIn. Its blue square logo is probably sitting somewhere on your device as you scroll through this story. The platform is practically synonymous with corporate recruiting.
These days, however, LinkedIn’s core product isn’t the only game in town. In fact, since LinkedIn’s acquisition by Microsoft in late 2016, both Google and Facebook have rolled out their own respective takes on the longstanding job board.
But as competitors start to move in, LinkedIn has pushed beyond its core competencies to add new services and offerings to address critical HR issues. It's this drive to innovate and push both recruiting and training to new heights that won LinkedIn our HR Company of the Year award.
Surviving the arms race
Using tools like cloud data collection and machine learning, the way in which candidates search for jobs is bound for disruption. And it’s not just Silicon Valley giants that have encroached on LinkedIn’s turf. The past 12 months have featured acquisitions in the online recruiting space worth billions.
LinkedIn purchases Lynda.com for $1.5B
Snagajob purchases PeopleMatter, Recruit Holdings Co. acquires SimplyHired
CareerBuilder acquires benefits admin and talent mgmt. startup Workterra
Randstad Holding acquires Monster for $429M
LinkedIn is acquired by Microsoft for $26.2B
Facebook unveils job posting tool for U.S. businesses on the site
Google announces Google for Jobs
Google launches its Hire app
Indeed acquires HR tech firm Interviewed for undisclosed amount
Online Recruiting Firm Arms Race
Recruiters are awash with options when it comes to finding top candidates, and that fragmentation is likely to continue going into Q1 2018. It’s not necessarily the death of job boards per se, if for no other reason than candidates still strongly prefer the simplicity and ease of quick applications. But it’s impossible to deny the importance of a mobile-first strategy.
The traditional process of sending in one’s resume has dramatically shifted. LinkedIn played a significant role in this respect. Scanning a resume, for instance, now consumes less time for recruiters thanks to advancements in machine learning technology.
That shift is central to understanding LinkedIn’s impact. A corporate page on LinkedIn isn’t just about posting jobs. It’s about connecting with candidates, whether through company blog posts, press clippings or pictures of your last pie bake-off. In short, it’s about the brand. LinkedIn may have been a crucial catalyst for this shift, but it is now a bigger fish in a burgeoning ecosystem of innovators.
Diversifying the portfolio
That may be why LinkedIn has made some crucial moves to stay relevant outside of its core competencies, which brings the crisis over worker skills into focus.
How do you teach needed skills? Increasingly, the answer converges on mobile platforms and video. With its acquisition of video learning site Lynda.com in 2015, LinkedIn moved to capitalize on trends that show an increased confidence in videos as a primary way to learn skills. The acquisition was quickly followed by the launch of a revamped LinkedIn Learning platform that can tailor recommended training sessions based on users’ profile info. In addition to LinkedIn Learning’s ready-made content around topics ranging from programming to holding one-on-one meetings, employers can publish their own custom sessions onto the platform.
“We are focused on helping every professional connect with recruiters and hiring managers to unlock new opportunities," Dan Shapero, LinkedIn's VP of careers, talent solutions and learning, told HR Dive. "Integral to this is ensuring that our members have the right skills through relevant learning content, and that our recruiters have the right tools to identify and source the right talent.”
It’s a creative angle on solving the skills problem that also aims to address a common employer complaint: workers aren’t engaged in training. LinkedIn Learning, then, is where the rubber meets the road. Employers are looking to improve engagement by making important training sessions available in digestible, on-demand packages that appear on the same platforms that those workers use every day — that's exactly what a platform of this size and magnitude allows them to do.
Aiding all of these efforts is the fact that LinkedIn is awash in user data. Much like other players in big tech, the company has a wealth of access to profile information, end-user preferences and statistics about in-demand job skills across different metrics. LinkedIn has flexed that muscle in various ways, including its ongoing LinkedIn Economic Graph initiative.
It’s hard to imagine an HR future without LinkedIn. The Microsoft acquisition suggests the company will play a major strategic part in Microsoft’s larger plans to expand into corporate recruiting technology, something that recruiters caught a glimpse of when Microsoft snatched up Dynamics 365. The real question facing HR is, who will solve the crisis of skills plaguing the U.S. workforce? Obviously, one company won’t do it alone. But among the harbingers of change within human resources, LinkedIn emerges as a front-runner due to its resources alone.
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