The Case for Indeed Stinging LinkedIn in 2018
[Meta Observation: This piece about the decline of LinkedIn was originally posted on LinkedIn itself and will certainly put the content-censor conspiracy theories to the test. But I hope ideas worth talking about will find a place to grow - even in harsh environments.]
What follows are my thoughts on Indeed, LinkedIn and (spoiler alert) how a relatively small upstart call BeBee can disrupt the industry. (Full disclosure: I'm not an industry insider and have no financial or other interest in any of the companies mentioned. As a user, I simply want better tools to find a great place to work!)
If you've been on LinkedIn for more that a few years you noticed some changes that occurred around the time Microsoft entered the picture. We all wondered aloud if the monetization, pay walls and feature-bureaucracy was the start of a slow decline. But it's been 18 months since the acquisition, Microsoft has had a light touch, and LinkedIn is doing just fine with between 250 and 500 million users depending on how you count. But will those users have any interest in an Office 365 integration, or CRM applications? Is that why you started and continue to use LinkedIn?
What LinkedIn Missed
LinkedIn is a job search app that thinks it's a professional networking app. As a foundation of the business, professional networking on-line has little value. If we're being honest, LinkedIn's value (to the user) is to help secure your next career move, not improve the data quality of our employer's CRM. So, I propose that what will ultimately - and rapidly - stop LinkedIn is not failure of an MS or CRM strategy, but that they didn't start with, promote and maintain "job search" as the core brand recognition element for users. This is an opening for a major disruption.
Indeed is the professional career tool with highest potential to displace Linkedin. There's no mistaking its position as the leading job search brand, and if that's the core competency needed for long-term success, it's quite to easy to see Indeed taking over LinkedIn. But today, Indeed is one dimensional. As a user (and with all due respect to the brains behind the curtain), Indeed has the depth and feel of a Craigslist or a flat aggregation site, a la Drudge Report. While it speaks to the power of doing one thing well, it's just a high functioning, digital version of the classified ads in the paper.
We've all looked for jobs on Indeed, LinkedIn and the others; many of you have hired from these as well. Raise your hand if you felt like the experience easily revealed the best candidate (or employer) and truly showed you what that person (or hiring manger) was like. Or did it simply act as a glorified way to send a resume? Just as with Indeed, we've really only moved the job posting from paper to screen. It's a highly unproductive cattle call: employers get stacks of unqualified resumes and job seekers have no way of communicating the intangibles that make them a good hire.
Enter the Solution (On a Unicorn)
BeBee is a relatively new networking site with a mix of professional and social capabilities that bring people together in self-selected groups called "hives". Founded in Spain and growing rapidly in Europe and the US, you may have heard of it but most likely not used it. What BeBee has in terms of connecting people with similar backgrounds, interests or whatever "hive" you join is the singular piece that Indeed is missing to rapidly displace LinkedIn on all fronts. By acquiring BeBee and retooling Indeed as an immersive hiring platform that uncovers both professional and personal connections between employees and employers, they will have a product that no one else can match. Indeed's existing user base is eager to find the next big leap forward in job search functionality and productivity.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on where this market is headed and what will be the key drivers in 2018. Indeed acquiring BeBee is just one idea and who knows how quickly changes will happen. What I do know is that if these two paired up, I'd be really interested in seeing what that was all about -- and I bet I'm not the only one.