• 10/18/2012
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LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

Profiles update makes the platform less resume-focused and more like a true social network. But users are still griping about LinkedIn Endorsements.
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With its new Profiles, LinkedIn continues to move further away from its legacy of resume repository and toward functioning as a true professional social network.

LinkedIn is commonly known as the business-oriented social network, and its look and feel has pretty much reflected that. In the past, user profiles resembled traditional paper resumes, with some interactivity thrown in for good measure. A recent blog post by LinkedIn product manager Aaron Broznan notes that the network's "next generation" Profiles will make it easier for users to "tell their professional stories, be found for opportunities, and build relationships through meaningful interactions." The biggest change to LinkedIn Profiles is how they look. A social cocktail that mixes elements of Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, LinkedIn's new Profiles provide visual insight into users' experience, social activity, contacts, and more.

The Profiles are designed to make it easier for colleagues and potential employers to scan for experience and potential areas of common ground. "Our new visual design helps you make a powerful first impression and showcase your skills and accomplishments," writes Broznan. "The new profile shows you rich and visual insights on the people and companies in your network. These insights also make it simpler to discover people outside your network and quickly establish common ground to make more meaningful connections."

The Profiles are also intended to make it easier for users to engage with others in their network. Recent activity is at the top of the profile page, enabling users to see what their contacts are doing and to make connections while doing so.

"First, the beauty of it is that it is a better aesthetic, and the old profile was immediately converted to the new format," said Bruce Hurwitz, president and CEO of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing. "You did not have to make any changes. Second, it's important that LinkedIn lets members know that they are constantly updating their service."

During a press event earlier this week, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said LinkedIn now has 175 million members, with 50 million added in the last year alone.

Weiner noted that LinkedIn has recognized a shift among its users: "It's not just about job seekers looking for the perfect job or recruiters looking for the perfect candidate; it's also entrepreneurs looking to raise money, it's journalists … looking to break a story, its salespeople looking to turn cold calls into warm prospects. … People are updating their profiles when they are not looking for work. We want to put the right business intelligence in front of the right member at the right time."

[ Related: LinkedIn Profile Changes: What You Should Know. ]

Bronzan showed the new Profiles format during the event. The top of the Profile page has been simplified, Bronzan said, with a roll-up of users' academic and professional experience. It might be time to get new photos taken, because users' profile pictures are also larger and more prominent. Users can update their status from the top of the profile page.

Bronzan said that profile editing has been "rebuilt it from the ground up." Users now get a visual of sections they might want to add or expand, such as languages and projects, and the editing process is now inline. Users also see recommendations for people they might know; a visualization of profile completeness; a breakdown of their network, based on connections' companies, schools, and industries; and access to the Who's Viewed Your Profile tool. A visual of users' connections is at the bottom of the page, which also includes the Skills and Expertise section.

The new Profile should be easier to scan for common ground. (Partial page shown.)

The Skills and Expertise section features LinkedIn's new Endorsements, a feature that has been greeted with mixed feelings, if the comments to The BrainYard's recent story on the topic are any indication.

Although Hurwitz lauds the new Profiles section in general, he, too, is not a fan of Endorsements and noted an issue that many people have with the feature.

"I have a nice number of these endorsements, but don't be overly impressed," he said. "The truth is, not a single one of these individuals knows me or has ever worked with me. They all assume I will reciprocate. I won't, because if I ever decide to endorse someone, the endorsement would be meaningless if I endorse anyone who endorses me on a reciprocal basis."

Are you in line for the new LinkedIn Profile? Do you think it will increase your use of LinkedIn or make your experience more meaningful? Do you want to weigh in on Endorsements? Comments are welcome below.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

LinkedIn profiles are meaningless. I know 3 VPs who were fired or laid off but never updated their profiles so it looks like they are still employed at my company. And they claim things they did not accomplish (like consistently being under budget when in fact they were $1 million over). If only we could give thumbs up/down to indicate how truthful these things really are...

re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

Now, THAT would be interesting! It's amazing to me that people would lie or even exaggerate their experience, knowing that they could get called out by anyone who ever worked with them, but I realize that it's been known to happen. Thanks for reading and for the comment!

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard

re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

"If only we could give thumbs up/down to indicate how truthful these things really are..."

Have you noticed a trend - on LinkedIn and elsewhere - where a thumbs down or otherwise negative indication is no longer an available option? If you can't click something nice, click nothing at all, apparently.

re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

The former director of customer operations at a company I worked for listed herself as the vice president of customer operations on linkedin. The company is now bankrupt so there is no way for prospective employers to check.

re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

I still wonder how LinkedIn, or any of these electronic representations will ultimately become useful. Obviously some people find benefit where they might otherwise be overlooked. Or contacts are established that would be unlikely to happen in the physical world. But, the bottom line is the gap between "knowing" someone and reading an abstract of their life is huge. How to make a useful judgement? The thumbs up or down tools, first made popular by eBay are an attempt to bridge the gap, but we have all seen them become bastardized in short order. "You endorse me and I'll endorse you." serves no one. But, since we are confident we cannot rely on consistent human ethics to assure truth and accuracy, what mechanism might be invented to maximize such desirable characteristics? In the real world I prefer basing my judgements on the results of "Who you gonna believe, Me or your own eyes?" I believe behavior over rhetoric ... and still get fooled on occasion. The connection between what they say and what they do is much tougher (impossible?) over the ether.

re: LinkedIn Profiles: Not Just For Resumes Anymore

I have to say that I enjoy using Linkedin for its intended purpose, which is to network professionally and to seek employment opportunities. I also use my profile for prospective employers to view. There will always be someone that is trying to abuse a system in one form or another. Prospective employers who use Linkedin as a reference checker should have a secondary policy in play for checks. I agree they probably would be more accurate if you could call someone on their non-sense. Use it with caution and donGt base your business decisions solely upon a profile of an individual that the individual created themselves.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor