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LinkedIn: The Career Platform

Thanks to poking around on Ric’s about page I just realized that LinkedIn has rev’ed in several new features recently. The most encouraging things is some roach motel busting they’ve done. You can now setup a public page for your profile. Mine is at

Still a Roach Motel

There’s still a tragically high barrier to entry: without logging in to LinkedIn, you can only view a summary of the profile. This is total crap: it doesn’t make it easy for me as a user to extend the reach of LinkedIn. I’d love send that URL as my resume to people, but if they have to create an account to log in to LinkedIn, I’m not going to do it.

Requiring people to log in to your system to view data is not a good idea. It looses you money in the end. It’s like if you had to log in to view this, or any blog.

On the other hand, what’s remarkable about this new public page — and a page from the flickr playbook — is that you can customize the link. I choose the ending of “michaelcote.” (Of course, it’s inane that I couldn’t use just “cote” because you have to have 6 characters. ).

A LinkedIn Platform

I’ve long wanted LinkedIn to become the career platform, as I’m somewhat dodgy on selling want ads as the best business model. And by platform, I mean more than just data, I mean all the actions, behavior, and integration that could come with a real web platform, or “service” if you prefer.

For example, when I started at RedMonk, I sent out an notification in LinkedIn to my “professional network” that I had a new job. It actually got several responses, and it was a great way to let everyone know. On the other hand, I felt like it walked the line of permission marketing — I’m not sure everyone agreed to get that “spam.”

As I’m in the business of giving advice, here’s some more things I’d like to see from LinkedIn (or indeed, jobster, and friends if they want to get a leg-up) to fully flesh out being The Career Platform.


Unless my Google searches are total bunk, there’s no API into LinkedIn. An API gets you into the world of SOA and mashups. As I link-implied recently, a services variant of Metcalfe’s Law suggests that the more people using your platform, the more value there is in it.

And as with enterprise platforms, a simpler and more open the API is more successful than a complex and hard to access API. For example, it’d be awesome if there was a JavaScript include that would list people’s endorsements of you. I’m sure people would love to put that in their blogs. And it’d be great for the coders out there if all the data in LinkedIn could be retrieved with simple REST calls that returned simple, XML formated data-documents.


It’s frankly shocking that there aren’t LinkedIn feeds for events that occur in your social network. When someone gets a new job, you get an endorsement, someone else gets an endorsement, someone adds a new contact…all those activities that people may want to respond to are locked up in the system.

Throwing those events in an RSS feed would drive more traffic to LinkedIn, which would drive more use. When a friend gets a new job, I might want to see the new people I’m connected to through that new job. That leads to all sorts of career social networking wet-dreams.

The Outlook Toolbar has some of this, but locking yourself into just that silo isn’t too wise.

XML, Exports, and Even Micro-formats

While an API would be fantastic, even the ability to export your LinkedIn resume/profile as a PDF or XML would be a huge leap. You can imagine that adding micro-formats to the profile pages — if they put the entire profile in public, not just the lame summary — would be great for mashing-up too. To pick a whiz-bang mashup, you could create a Google Maps mashup of where the person had worked. That’s not anything that’s going to make cash on it’s own, but it’d have a “wow” effect that would start people thinking more.

If they threw in FOAF exports, LinkedIn would become the darling of the week for the A-List blog-o-sphere people. The blog world loves it when someone with a pile of existing, closed data exposes it using a lovable standard. Meaning: people would start using LinkedIn’s FOAF exports.

To pick some other social networking sites, imagine if there was integration between MySpace, LiveJournal (who already supports FOAF), and LinkedIn, all based on FOAF. As people in the first two wanted to present a professional view of themselves, they could just click some buttons, and transfer over all their social network information (and I mean “their” in the “they own it cause it’s about them” sense ;>) from MySpace of LiveJournal into LinkedIn. Data flow in the other direction — LinkedIn to MySpace and LiveJournal — would be fun too.

(There are some interesting identity issues to resolve: talk about a great, hot-bed of Single-Sign-On and cross-silo identity to experiment in. If you could crack that identity problem, you’d end up with a system that’d solve innumerable other unstructured identity problems.)

For those who aren’t reading between the lines what I’m saying is: LinkedIn could get more users from the gigantic pool of “getting older and need a more professional profile” MySpace and LiveJournal users. While someone as cavalier as I am wouldn’t mind a submission of a MySpace profile in a professional context, I suspect most everyone else would immediately ignore anyone who sent along such an URL as their profile/resume/CV.

Which gets to…

Profile as Resume

I’d like to see LinkedIn make this happen: instead of sending a resume to a company, I’d send a LinkedIn URL. (And, no, I’m not looking for a job, it’s just an example)

I’ve typed up all my crap into LinkedIn, I have some lovely, kind recommendations from former co-workers, and my LinkedIn page better represents who I am than a resume ever could: web pages have links! In fact, my resume is just cut-and-pasted from LinkedIn. Resumes suck. Web-pages are much more rich.

With their public URLs — again, if they drop the loosing idea of showing only a summary without logging in — LinkedIn is in a good position to do this. One revenue stream might be to charge people to have an ad free version of the page. Another to get nicely printed versions of your resume mailed to you or prospective employers.

You could even imagine something like this: people can write in their experiences applying for jobs at different companies. When you ask LinkedIn to send you resume to a job, it could tell you people’s over-all feel for that company. That’s the kind of collective/emergant wisdom that only a hosted application like LinkedIn can do.

(The systems management wonks still reading along should think of what “social software enabled systems management” features a hosted approach would allow, e.g., “when 80% of other users ran out of buffer space in Oracle, they did this…you probably should do that to. Or, click here, and the system will do it for you…or spin of a request to the mechanical turk to fix the problem.” You see, systems management can be fun! ;>)

Enterprise LinkedIn: Hosted Org Charts

Speaking of hosted applications, LinkedIn could become the org-chart application for companies everywhere. Most large companies I’ve worked at had that funky applet you could go to in the intranet and pan through the org-chart. LinkedIn already has a ton of data that people have agreed to put in the clear. Instead of those boring, information skinny org-charts you’re used, LinkedIn could provide a much richer, and fatter org chart. Want to see endorsements that people have given Jane in IT? Does the fact that Jack has no endorsements mean you should avoid giving him The Big Project?

This could both: (a.) make revenue off that offering, and, (b.) collect new users for their consumer offerings. A really visionary company would make that org-chart completely public, but for the the business as usual camp, it’d be private, of course.

Beyond LinkedIn: Mainframes, SOA, & Sex

As you can imagine, most of these suggestions, or the spirit and tone of them at least, work not only for most consumer software, but also with enterprise software, in both cases, social or otherwise. Simple, very open, interoperable by virtue of POX APIs into your system are a quick and easy win.

We’ve talked with many people in the mainframe space — selling mainframes or software and services that involve mainframes — of late about how SOA is helping drive more use of and visibility for the services that mainframes provide. Wrapping a web service (usually SOAP) around a mainframe’s “functionality” (to avoid using the word “services” again ;>) opens the mainframe up to more people. As Chip said last night (not an exact quote), “if you’ve got a web service wrapped around it, I don’t care what the back-end is, I just use the service if it’s good.”

It’s kind of like the way screen are used to eliminate bias in symphony try-outs, as outlined in Blink. Before the use of screens to hide the sex of the musicians trying out, women rarely got selected. Once that industry started putting screens up to hide the candidates sex, more women got hired.

Some people will avoid using mainframe based services simply because they think mainframes aren’t cool. Surely all that Intel Inside stuff is better, right? As can always be pointed out, people are more the drivers of technical decisions than the underlying technology. Wrap a web service around the mainframe, and you’ve widened the audience, adding more “nodes” to your network, and increased the mainframe’s value.

More important to the analogy back to simple APIs, if you remove all the clutter, access restrictions, and bias from things like WS-*, roach motels, and sex you can focus on the service being provided: be that service submitting a PO, offering a resume, or playing music.

Disclaimer: Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon, Oracle (thru Sleepycat), and BMC (where Chip works) are clients.

Categories: Companies, Enterprise Software, Ideas, Social Software, Systems Management.

Comment Feed

11 Responses

  1. A pleasure to be of service – sort of! I was also pleasantly surprised at the changes – the whole thing is now a lot easier to get around.

    I like your suggestions – I've passed a link to this post on to Konstantin at Linkedin – maybe something will happen.

  2. Thanks! Like I was saying, I’d be glad to see LinkedIn emerge as the platform for career info.
    For an example out of many, it’d be great to see mashups with craigslist, monster, etc. where people’s “looking for a job” ads would link to their LinkedIn profiles.

  3. You can publish your entire profile on your public version: there’s a page with your web profile where you can add any or all of the sections to the public view. The default is just the basics, but you can put in current and past positions, etc.

  4. Thanks for the tip Sandy. I had the full view enabled, but it seems to only give summary data instead of my full profile. To see everything in the profile — it seems — you have to log in to LinkedIn.
    Is there a setting I'm missing?

  5. Make sure you check all the checkboxes when you edit your Web Profile:

    This will enable you to show your work experience + more.

  6. Thanks for the note, Mike. Either I missed that back when I set it up initially, or it's a new feature. Either way, it's good to get all the data out there.

  7. One thing you might want to try is to alter the url of your public profile – it makes a lot of sense to do this for general public visibility too.

    You can have a look at my public profile to see what I mean if you'd like:

    BTW if you get anywhere on the API please let me know. I got a great idea waiting in the wings 😉


    Matthew Byrne

  8. I think LinkedIn is "intentionally" Web 1.0 in most ways: Fashionable in a retro kind of way – the purpose probably being to cater to the 40 somethings.

    -Nas Raja

  9. An API would provide greater exposure of LinkedIn and provide opertunities for people wanting to exploit the data. LinkedIn may miss some opertunites themselves but I would expect that they would get ample benifits.

  10. You can now publish your profile in PDF, but still no API.

    BTW, what about photo? This is not Hi5 or MySpace, but with almost 500 biz connections on LinkedIn I would really like to have an image help me remember some of them 🙂

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