LinkedIn: Friend or Glorified Recruitment Tool?

With a worldwide user base of 100 million people, LinkedIn has some credence in its claims of being the world's largest professional network. Now, with two million users in Australia alone, it's clear that the site has captured the attention of many in the local workplace.

But a careful look at the statistics the social network is quick to flaunt can reveal something a little disturbing about the network. Of the Australian base currently on the network, 1276 users claim to be a "guru" at some field or other, while a further 12,108 users have "social media" in their title description.

These are tiny proportions of the overall base, to be sure, but reveal a fact the company may not be willing to: While catering specifically to professionals, it is, after all, a 'social' network.

Recommendations from friends and colleagues, urges to add more and more personal information about oneself and invitations to join personal interest group can at times seem to cross the line between a professional's work and personal life, something that can be met with derision from a potential employer.

Even taking away the social aspect, for some LinkedIn has become a glorified recruitment tool, a place where job seekers and human resources departments alike can poach and pick their prey.

Nevertheless, amongst the criticisms that could potentially be laid at the network, there are some redeeming factors. The ability to customise what your LinkedIn profile Web address provides the opportunity include a personal feature on one's resume - a great way to have an up-to-date profile online that can be easily accessed by a potential employer.

Its focus on the enterprise, too, is an interesting factor. That only approximately 10 per cent of the Australian user base can be counted as small businesses owners means LinkedIn is all about the big game.

Where the social network perhaps broaches its boundaries too far is in news feeds. The LinkedIn News feature, released last month, aims to become an all-in-one social network and news aggregator, the likes of Twitter, but it's difficult to see such a network ever overtake popularity of Facebook and Twitter. Its niche nature has a real place in the enterprise but the information people want to put on LinkedIn is very different to the information often contained in a Twitter profile.

Social network, glorified recruitment tool or not, LinkedIn fills a place the magnates of the wider world does not.

Follow Lisa Banks on Twitter: @CapricaStar

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAu

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