Recently I was reading an article about the different strategies that candidates need to adopt in the process of searching for a job. I read an expert comment that said – “If you are not on Linked In, you do not exist”. I was amazed at the audacity of the statement mainly because it is only half the truth. Linked In can be a good tool to do a reference check. If you would like to know who the Operations Director is in a particular firm or if you wish to know where your former colleagues have moved on to, Linked In is a good reference point. However, I simply do not understand the logic behind “connections” – especially in the Indian context.
I have met very few people who have actually landed a job by networking through others with Linked In. I do not want to sound leery but let us face it. It has been almost 4 years since I first heard about Linked In. But after we connect with somebody, we get disconnected as soon as we get connected. I once spoke to a Managing Director of a leading firm in Bangalore that introduces standards for fire safety and is extensively involved in framing specifications for materials that are used in fire hydrant and sprinkler systems. Despite sending invitations, he never accepted the invite. He later confided in me that though he had put up his profile in Linked In, he looked at the website once in 3 months. “My secretary checks it once in a while and she kind of literally forces me to look at it”, he laughed.
The one thing that is true of sites like Face book and Linked In is that they have made writers of every Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to be heard. In the Silicon Valley of India, where there are lot many IT companies, such networking tools are immensely popular. The penny drops when I talk to my neighbour who works for a software firm in Baghmane Tech Park. “Between two projects, there is always a time lag. This time lag may last up to a month or in some cases may go up to 3 months too. Employees in the software industry who wait for the next project are said to be “on the bench”. For such employees, such networking tools are a Godsend to while away the time. They respond to comments, pose questions like – What are the true qualities of a great leader. , What is more important – money or job satisfaction etc. It is a good way to use their idle time”, my neighbour stops after speaking without a pause.
Despite its best attempts, Linked In has failed to be a networking site in the real sense of the term. “It is somewhere in between” says Mugdha Pandit who works for a research firm in Pune. “At best, it remains a fantastic lost-and-found tool to connect with old school friends, classmates and past colleagues. In addition, it helps recruiters to do a reference check about a potential candidate”.
Many research firms use Linked In to source contacts for conducting interviews for their research projects. Not only that, many job sites actually sell the information about candidates to such research firms for a fee. How do you think you get calls on your mobile from call centre employees asking you if you wish to have a Gold credit card? Even placement firms make a quick buck by selling the information of candidates for a fee. Linked In may take a leaf out of their book to follow a similar strategy in the near future.
Amol Khedekar who works for an IT firm in Bannerghatta says that he joined a few groups on Linked In as a member only to regret his decision later. Amol’s inbox was bombarded with spam in the next few days. “I chose to de link myself from Linked In” says a much wiser Amol. It is high time such networking tools look at the writing on the wall and position their strategy and product appropriately. Had the marketing team looked at it right off the bat, the situation would have been different today. Is someone listening?