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The Absurdity of LinkedIn (42floors.com)
803 points by darrennix on April 30, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 336 comments

I can't believe people still use LinkedIn.

And when I say that, I am talking about the HN crowd. It's one thing to say "I can't believe people use IE6", but this is tech-savvy people using a joke of a social media.

Guys, if you want to look professional, buy your own domain name. Something professional, like yourname.me, or clever like "yourna.me". Build your own web page with your own damn profile and don't leave control over a company on how you look on the web. Be in control of the first point of entry to your identity.

For god sake guys. LinkedIn has had so many security issues, so much scummy behaviour regarding spam, user retention etc... yet you are still blessing them with your presence. (Obviously this doesn't apply to those that don't)

PS: Use gandi.net as a registrar for your name. They offer a free ssl cert along with the domain (and support almost every tld) for added "professional-looking" value to your site. I am not affiliated with them, I just love Gandi.

Edit: I'm being called out for "living in my own bubble" it seems. Yet LinkedIn is the very definition of a bubble. I used to have a LinkedIn profile and from it all I got were the most awful recruiting experiences, and all of them through cold calls. Your own site with CV + portfolio + Github + contact details is a LOT better.

PS2: Downvote or not I don't care, but please reply if you disagree; I'd love to disagree even harder!

Edit 2: I'm starting to think there is correlation between finding LinkedIn useful and not having a Github profile. A lot of the points people are bringing up here are solved in a very similar way by Github (which is in many ways a social network). This does bring me back to my original point though, why use LinkedIn when you can use a company that isn't scummy and actually have your real work experience on there and a link back to your personal website with more portfolio etc?

I can't believe people don't use Linkedin. I've been a software engineer and more recently a delivery lead within the professional service consulting space working with massive enterprise clients for a few years now.

Everybody I've ever spoken to (outside of small JS type devs) has got a linkedin profile and expected me to have one. So many recruiters (I contract now) have used linkedin to contact me based on searches they've done which I have converted into 6 separate projects now (and at £650 per day that's a lot of money).

Depending what circles you move in (I move in big enterprise software and services circles) it's just a given that you will have a linkedin. I have a domain name which directs to my blog and one page profile but even then people still ask for my linkedin.

I don't know what the smaller time software dev world is like but for me linkedin is essential..

Saying you can't believe why anybody in the HN crowd would use linkedin probably shows that you only know about the bubble that you operate in.

Agree - if you consult in enterprise world, LinkedIn profile is a must-have. This is the first place where prospective customers go to check you out - your history and your connections.

It does not have to be the only tool in your toolbox (own site, blog, Twitter all come into play), but it is expected that you have one.

It is also very useful to keep in touch with former colleagues/customers after projects are over. These are the people who you would not add to your Facebook account but would like to exchange a message with every couple of years or so...

Linked-in is entrenched in my industry (legal). I was job-searching recently, and I noticed that almost every place where a resume submittal lead to a callback, a recruiter checked my Linked-In. It's also been really helpful for finding people I have some connection to, whether it be people who went to the same school, worked for the same firm/judge, etc.

Yeah, as a software developer you're probably in high-enough demand that you can get away with not having one. I hope that state of affairs lasts forever. But for everyone else who still has to hustle for work, the benefits of Linked-In outweighs the scumminess (which is significant, I grant you).

I agree. I'm a project manager, have been in multiple industries. Aviation, intelligence, product dev & mechanical engineering, and oil & gas all use Linkedin, and I benefited from using its service. Linkedin has provided both clients and meaningful job interviews for me; I even give them dollars for upgraded service from time to time.

If you are in sales, it's invaluable in finding individuals in organizations. Maybe some think this is a bad thing and that's fine; I do not. If you are job hunting, it is unbelievable to be able to put something directly in front of the actual person hiring before getting in the door.

Despite being filled with strangeness, many of their industry groups are good for finding specific knowledge. It's scummy (and much less knowledgable than HN or forums around the net), but that's just how some of the internets be, I guess.

It does seem a bit like MySpace; something almost exactly like what they are actually trying to accomplish.

I understand the disdain some have for Linkedin, but I myself have benefited from using it.

I have the same results as you do with an active Github profile. Except I don't get cold-called by recruiters but more directly by the people who need me. It's a lot more personal, friendly, and a better experience overall.

I've had people ask me for my LinkedIn and I sent them my personal site instead - they were just as happy with it. When people ask you for your linkedin, what they really want is a business profile; portfolio, cv, etc. They don't want to "friend" you and "share funny pictures" or something.

LinkedIn helps many get discovered. Recruiters or companies looking for new developers are far more likely to search LinkedIn than to Google "Scala developers in [local City]." Github is great for open-source library and application development, but it's hardly the answer to ditching LinkedIn. Using myself as the example, most of the work I do is proprietary client work or enterprise-level work that is maintained in an internal code repository. My Github profile does not represent my true caliber of work.

Why not have both? Github isn't a social network. I frequently get contacted by people through LinkedIn because of the network aspect of LinkedIn. We both know the same person so they trust me rather than me just being a random name on the internet. They probably found me by searching through their LinkedIn network.

  > Github isn't a social network
Isn't it? I can join, commit no code, fill out a profile, create and join groups, add (well, follow) friends.

It's not Facebook, but it appears to tick most of the social network boxes.

Yeah, good point. I guess I just don't think about it that way because you I go there to browse code rather than people.

Can you message people?

If people want to be messaged through GitHub, they'll put their email address on their profile.

I kinda wish it had this feature.

Off topic and a little nosey, but what skills do you have that command 650/day?

You know that every year the USD gets inflated more? A person making $100k salary gets paid about 400/day (I just divided by 260) with holidays and no breaks. 650/day for freelance where the pay is not consistent sounds pretty modest to me. Really the way inflation and money printing and the market for money has been going these days we should all be getting paid a LOT more. But we will just continue to be happy with our 50-200k salaries as the rich 1% keeps gathering more and more of it.

Just being pedantic here - grand parent post mentions £650 a day, which is around $1000 per day depending on the prevailing exchange rate.

It's in GBP, so £650/day is actually $285,356.50. I wouldn't call that modest in the least.

It's also $137/hr or $121/hr, depending on whether you assume 8- or 9-hour workdays. In IT consulting, these are not high rates.

Also keep in mind: A day rate implies consultant (i.e. non-employee) work, which further implies <100% utilization. Assuming he only works weekdays and takes 4 weeks of vacation (comparable to working at a BigCo), 80% utilization gets you to ~192 days, or $210k.

That's probably optimistic, though. This math further assumes he is able to sell 80% of his time in the 20% of his nonbillable time, and that he doesn't lose any billable time due to scheduling issues (i.e. each client is ready to go as soon as he is). Depending on his business, he'll have to spend some cash on overhead (accountants, lawyers, etc.).

My brother works as an IT project manager consultant for big old companies that will remain nameless. Daily rate something like £450-500, so call it $750.

Under utilisation is true enough, but you also have to take into account the tax efficiencies you can put in place as a freelancer (in the UK at least), which means he's still well enough off to have a Porsche 911 and a flat in the Swiss Alps.

Nice work if you can get it.

Yep. If you charge ~$x/h as a freelancer you're probably taking home a similar amount to someone making $xK/year once you hit your stride and have a lot of contacts coming to you with work (which can take years to build up).

its not even the 1 percent. Its more like the .1 percent. according to forbes: An entry ticket to the 1% starts with an annual income of about $394,000 (says Berkeley’s Emmanuel Saez) or about $1.5 million in liquid assets (my zestimate). Post-tax and retirement savings, that’s about $220,000 a year while they are working. These are national norms. If they happen to live on the coasts or near a major urban center, as is more than likely, they might need twice as much money to crash into the 1% by local standards.

Good point. It is definitely a smaller portion of the population that is really pulling the strings with money. I guess I could just say Wall Street? The banks? Regardless, I wouldn't say the lower 1% that makes this sort of middle class money that you are talking about are completely innocent. I'm sure many of them are government or government-funded private business employees, and I'm sure many of them aren't doing important work that is worth the fat wallets they are building thanks to the people who do control the money.

However, I'm also not denying that there are many highly influential, priceless, people getting paid these high salaries that are greatly beneficial to our society and have legitimately earned their fortunes. It's just unfortunate that everything is being done to support the continuation of rich getting richer and poor getting poorer. However, thanks to some people, the entire world can become richer.

I don't believe, in the last 15 years, I've ever hired a contractor, for any IT work, from Jira consulting to installing telephone lines, (and certainly not any type of skilled development coding) that charged less than $800/day.

Usually a contractor charges from $150 - $200/hour, with a discount if you need them for more than a couple weeks.

It was £650 a day, not $ - so about US$1000

Java Enterprise, Spring, JMS, Messaging and a couple of large Java based ecommerce platforms although I spend more time actually leading projects than I do writing code now.

Most good Java guys that I know take around £500 - 700 per day in the enterprise, telco, banking and ecommerce space.

I agree with this. I honestly think this is the only reason why Linkedin/Facebook/et al. are still around, because there's such a social stigma about not having one. Just like you said:

> Everybody I've ever spoken to (outside of small JS type devs) has got a linkedin profile and expected me to have one.

With Facebook the stigma is lessened, but still there.

This is very strange to me. I had a LinkedIn for a couple years, but it served me absolutely no purpose except one or two pings from recruiters who were looking for vastly different skillsets anyway. I got sick of the security issues, endless deluge of useless email, and generally having to care about it at all, so I deleted my account a few years ago.

Now I get more recruiter email, except they actually sort of know what I'm good at, because they found me through GitHub (or my blog) instead. Not to say that GitHub is inherently a better indicator of capabilities, but it's more likely to be looked at by someone with some technical understanding, whereas LinkedIn is basically keyword soup.

I don't believe I've ever once been asked for my LinkedIn. But I work for an SF company, so maybe your experience is a reflection of enterprise and its love of résumés.

You aren't enough of a special hipster snowflake to ironically not use popular job networking services.

I think parent and grandparent just operate in different sub-industries/geographic regions etc. I find it easy to believe that some communities find linkedin indispensable while some consider it an anti-signal.

I also find it strange that while you clearly know that over-generalizing your own experiences shows that one "only knows about the bubble that one operates in", your first sentence is that you can't believe people don't use linkedin...

This pretty much mirrors my experience as a Contract PM in London.

Read your last two sentences.

Maybe you need to read what I've written. I know that I'm not part of his world but I at least understand there is a world outside of what I do. He just thinks that everyone here is the same as him and what he does must be the only thing in software development.

I apologize if it came off caustic - my point was purely understanding, to not be critical of his 'bubble' while admittedly working in one of your own.

That insight should help you understand the relevance of LinkedIn because it operates across 'bubbles'.

I'm all in favor of replacing LinkedIn with something decentralized (or just less exploitative), but isolating yourself on GitHub (which is not even the software dev industry but a minority subset of it) is not a solution, it's immature clique-ish behavior.

As a hiring manager, I expect candidates to have a LinkedIn profile that is up to date. A LinkedIn profile is a public copy of your resume; other people can see it and flag if you make inaccurate claims. I can also see how you're connected to me (it's a very rare web developer who isn't a few degrees away from me, mostly because of my time at Yahoo) and use those people to work out where you are in the industry, and get background information from them. Public recommendations are good (the skills endorsements list much less so).

If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good. [Edit: per comments below, you might have some deep principled reason for not using social networks. In this case my metric is wrong, but I'm okay with having a false negative once in a while.]

Expecting everyone to have and maintain their own domain probably isn't practical, but even for those that do, the discoverability of that domain is low: I don't search google to find developers, I search LinkedIn. That's what it's for, and it's really pretty good at it.

They do some really dumb UI stuff around privacy that is trivially worked around using Incognito. I wish they didn't, but it's not dumb enough to make me abandon the giant utility of the network as a whole.

[Update: I took this thread to Twitter and got a bunch of really cogent arguments, including that LinkedIn enables harrassment/stalking of marginalized groups. That's more than a few isolated people who don't like social networks or object to the dark pattern UI, that's a systemic flaw. So I'm going to change my hiring practices to take that into account. Thanks, everybody!]

I know I am not going to change your modus operandi, but I must publicly point out that I fully, absolutely, disagree with how you execute your hiring. If you were working for me, you'd soon be working for someone else.

Your approach is a minimal-effort Pareto principle based hiring. By eschewing any and all candidate information sources other than the market leader professional social network, you get access to a pool of 80% of the candidates with minimal effort. For you, it's great. For your company, it's passable. For the candidates, it's disgusting.

I know many professionals, top of their class, that do not maintain their LinkedIn profile. Some don't even have one (usually out of principle). You absentmindedly dismiss these 95th percentile professionals in the "junior, shady or clueless" category. It reeks of profiling, smells like laziness and must be called out as bad practice.

> For you, it's great. For your company, it's passable. For the candidates, it's disgusting.

Not the OP and playing a bit of devil's advocate but why do I care what's best for candidates? If I'm able to hire the people I need then I don't really care if there's a group of developers that I'll never find.

That's a choice you make when you take your principled stand.

It's not central to the argument, because the OP's position is obviously suboptimal for the company. However, yours is an interesting view, and a point in my argument that does require clarification.

Current good management practices envision managing as optimizing company behavior for all company stakeholders. In past times, management optimized for shareholder profit. Optimizing for shareholder profit alone has been repeatedly proven not sustainable. It usually leads to very spectacular failures, which themselves cause the public notion that all management is still shareholder-oriented. Not all companies are managed like this. Successful ones manage their relationship with all stakeholders. It is in this view that caring for candidates is important.

In this view, in order to maximize long term profit, you should aim to create positive effects on every individual or organization that somehow interfaces with your company. This is obviously theoretical, and impractical. Sometimes it is just not possible, and anyhow you have to give higher importance to central stakeholders (shareholders, customers, employees). However, when the cost is not too high, you should strive for positive impacts.

In hiring, the cost of reviewing non-standard resumes is not relevant. The cost of causing a bad impression on the random important candidate that you decline, or the cost of missing an excellent hire, is relevant. The OP's position is fundamentally wrong.

Unfortunately, the OP's position is held, in varying forms, by many in this industry. How many have said they won't hire someone without a Github profile? Without Open Source contributions? Without a direct personal network connection? If they spent too long at $BIG_STODGY_COMPANY? I have come to the conclusion that most companies don't give a shit about candidates as long as they are getting enough. Hell, even some companies that bitch and moan about "talent shortages" seem to have their own Pareto principle bullshit getting in their way.

Lets not forget about the companies who create incredibly lengthy "tests" to test their potential hires.

I don't mind short coding examples. Thats cool. However when a company asks for web applications... come on. Not everyone is jobless and has time to jump through that many hoops.

What am I asking for? Learn how to identify talent... have people master that skill. The insecurity about "would this guy be good?" lets make him/her jump through a billion hoops just to work here is irritating.

Well yes, all of those criteria are bad business, if taken as absolutes. They can all be factors, for sure. But as absolute requirements, they just weed out good candidates.

> I have come to the conclusion that most companies don't give a shit about candidates as long as they are getting enough. Hell, even some companies that bitch and moan about "talent shortages" seem to have their own Pareto principle bullshit getting in their way.

It sounds like a lot of the companies you've encountered have embraced irrational business practices. That can definitely happen. I'm not convinced it's the norm, though. And I'm sure that it shouldn't be.

If I'm able to hire the people I need then I don't really care if there's a group of developers that I'll never find.

Homogenising for efficiency carries long term risk. If you don't have several primary sources for hiring, then not only are you artificially narrowing your available pool, but you are also introducing a single point of failure. To borrow a phrase, if something goes badly wrong, Linkedin can remain irrational for longer than you can remain solvent.

Your approach is a minimal-effort Pareto principle based hiring. By eschewing any and all candidate information sources other than the market leader professional social network, you get access to a pool of 80% of the candidates with minimal effort. For you, it's great. For your company, it's passable. For the candidates, it's disgusting.

No, at different levels it is the approach everybody takes. The concept of search cost[1] always existed in economy. You can think that an answer to your question is in some obscure web site but if that web site is in the #1000 position in Google, very few people will find it.

Regarding LinkedIn, I think if you want to increase the probability of being hired in US (and other countries where LinkedIn is popular) you must be there. You can argue against it like I argue about needing to have a Skype, or a PayPal account to receive payments: everybody is there, network effects, etc.

- [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_cost

But it's not a binary choice between a) excluding everyone without LinkedIn and b) spending an infinite amount on search. Surely, there are affordable ways to evaluate engineering candidates other than their LinkedIn profiles. For example, looking at resumes alone is often sufficient to exclude 90% of applicants, simply because 90% of applicants list no relevant skills or experience.

I agree and I experienced some few exceptions to seldo thinking. For example, friends who are incredible capable and extremely focused on their field. It works for them because they are known from conferences and specific software groups.

I'm shocked to learn that having a LinkedIn profile is a requirement for working at npm, Inc. (where seldo works).

That is contrary to the stereotype I have of organizations like that.

Hiring managers need to filter out somehow. I know a guy who gives explicit - but not difficult - instructions for applicants. Anything not following the instructions gets circular filed. Another silicon valley exec was famous here, recently, for trashing applicants who like country music.

Funny, I've seen the argument made that developers target iOS first or sometimes exclusively because you make way more money there then on Android and it's much easier to maintain vs the huge ecosystem that is Andriod. By doing that you're screwing over an even large percentage of people, in this case users, but rarely have I heard anyone here complain nearly as much about it. How is this much different?

Not working for people who chose a specific brand of operating system cannot be reasonably called 'screwing over' those people, whichever that OS is, especially if those people won't pay for the work.

Luckily for him, he's working for himself. I can find that out with a couple of Google queries and a LinkedIn profile.

But I have no idea whether you work for yourself, for someone else, or whether you're a hiring manager.

> I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

I'm quite certain I'm none of those things. I'm gainfully employed and well-respected. Yet I'm not on LinkedIn. Why? Because I prefer to minimize my social media footprint, because I've heard a lot of things about LinkedIn that rub me the wrong way, and because I don't see a clear value proposition.

So no, my absence from LinkedIn has nothing to do with me being a bad candidate for a job. If you assume it does, you miss out on a good hire.

I think any statement of the form "a person who doesn't use product X is necessarily a bad candidate" is absurd, unless product X is something like disinfectant and the job is something like doctor.

> So no, my absence from LinkedIn has nothing to do with me being a bad candidate for a job.

- I agree completely.

>If you assume it does, you miss out on a good hire.

- Again, I agree completely.

On the other hand, any company that vets potential employees by LinkedIn, or any single metric or source, isn't a company that I want to work for. So my lack of presence there helps weed out companies that I don't want to work for anyway.

The value I see in my LinkedIn profile is, first of all, the ability to keep in touch with colleagues from my previous jobs.

Also, I find some of the LinkedIn groups pretty good. Gone are the good old days of Usenet, unfortunately, and there are niche topics for which I can't find better forums than some LinkedIn groups.

Oh absolutely, if it delivers value to you in those ways, by all means use it. I don't think it would help me personally in that regard, but if it did, I might reconsider.

I suspect that LinkedIn is more useful to some people than others. And that's fine. Most products are like that. My comment above was really just arguing against the idea that LinkedIn usage somehow correlates with the quality of a candidate.

They're not necessarily a bad candidate, but I have a lot of resumes to scan and this metric works most of the time. I'm okay with getting it wrong sometimes.

I didn't intend this to be taken as a personal affront to people who don't use LinkedIn, so I should have used less inflammatory language. My apologies.

The few very, very excellent developers I know are not on LI, and keep away from it. Why? Because they're so good they will probably never need such a tool, finding work was never an issue.

I think you're actually shooting yourself in the foot, and as someone else mentioned - you're actually missing out on the very best developers out there by taking the shortest, easiest path to recruiting.

> I have a lot of resumes to scan and this metric works most of the time.

Works in what sense? Does it reliably help you make the best hires? Are you sure? (I hypothesize that it does not, and you might not even know it.)

Yes, every hiring manager has lots of resumes to scan. But I wouldn't consider that a logical justification for establishing an arbitrary criterion that's likely to weed out some of the very best candidates. (As others have stated, there anecdotally appears to be a trend wherein the very best don't bother with LinkedIn.)

> I think any statement of the form "a person who doesn't use product X is necessarily a bad candidate" is absurd, unless product X is something like disinfectant and the job is something like doctor.

I've been casting about for a way to illustrate clearly what I mean by "tech snobbery". Many of my conversations go in a direction similar to this (scrollaway > seldo > jarrret). Your sentence will help me. Thank you.

:) To devil's advocate myself, though:

Where does this logic end? On the extreme end of the spectrum, we can agree that a doctor who skips the disinfectant is categorically a bad hire. But what about less extreme cases? Where do we draw the line? What about a developer who doesn't use version control? Or who doesn't use automated tests? What if they do use those things, but within those genres, they've chosen tools you happen to despise?

So I think it's tricky to know which products should be considered mandatory for quality hires.

That being said, I still stand by my comment on LinkedIn. The more debatable examples I gave above are tools that directly affect the quality and efficiency of a developer's work. LinkedIn is not, and that's a pretty big distinction.

> If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

How about smarter than you, because that is one hell of a stupid position.

I don't have a LinkedIn (or Facebook, or Google+ or whatever) because I don't sit and spew my details all over the internet. For job searches, another reason I don't use LinkedIn is because I have worked with people that I do not want to be associated with. That I have is not important to my looking for a job now.

You don't need a public, updated copy of my resume, you'll get my resume if I'm interested in working at a place. Don't worry, you won't have to worry about it.

I guess another benefit of not using LinkedIn is not working at places that promote idiotic practices such as this.

I agree with everything, but there is that small point that if you don't want to be associated with people you worked with, it does fall into the "shady" category, at least somewhat. I'm sure you have a great reason, and that's why social constructs are much more complicated then whatever LinkedIn's system does and probably will ever do.

And to gf - I'm glad you agree on missing out on people, because some of the best people I know don't have an up-to-date profile, and I'd hate for them to work with people who update their profile too often :)

How is it shady? We happened to be hired at same place. I think they're assholes and would not want any first impression of me to be tainted by them.

shady: of doubtful honesty or legality

I suppose everyone who went to high school with Dahmer is shady too since for reasons out of their control they all went to the same school for a period of time. I doubt they feel the need to broadcast that information even though a little bit of extra looking would reveal the information.

Hiding connections to previous workplaces is shady to a hiring manager because the assumption will be that you were the problem, not them. Why else would you hide anything?

The saying applies "You run into an asshole in the morning, okay, you ran into an asshole. You run into assholes all day long, you're the asshole."

It's the same reason you don't badmouth previous employers or coworkers in a job interview.

Not listing who you have worked with is not hiding anything. They're hiring me, not the people I've worked with. All they need to know is the places I have worked and the responsibilities I had there and that's on my resume. A hiring manager does not need to know that I worked with Bob while I was there, it is not important to the process.

Yes, they could find out that I worked with Bob because Bob does spew all his details everywhere, but I am not presenting it to them as part of my resume. I also don't list the people I've worked with that I would work with again. They're hiring me, not the people that happened to work at some places I was at the same time.

> It's the same reason you don't badmouth previous employers or coworkers in a job interview.

Yet it's perfectly fine for their reputation to bad mouth me by association. That's what LinkedIn's network does.

> If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

pg's is basically empty.

don knuth doesn't have one.

bruce schneier doesn't have one.

and thomas ptacek's declares:

I hereby declare LinkedIn bankruptcy. LinkedIn sends me so much spam that my mail client refuses to show me its messages anymore. If you try to ping me here, I may never notice. Sorry!

You'd be able to get away with it, if it wasn't for us meddling kids.

> Expecting everyone to have and maintain their own domain probably isn't practical,

for web developers? why would you hire a web developer that didn't have their own domain?

> why would you hire a web developer that didn't have their own domain?

As stated in my other comments, I'm in the not-Linked-In camp. But still, I must take issue with the above. I happen to own a number of domain names, but I don't have a personal site at the moment. That's simply because I don't need one. At the moment, I successfully rely on other signals of my trustworthiness as an engineer.

When would I want to create a personal site? If I worked on many small projects for many small clients, I'd constantly be in a sales cycle, so I'd have a personal site for that purpose.

So in answer your question: "why would you hire a web developer that didn't have their own domain?" I'd hire such a web developer if she were qualified, quite simply. If she lacked a personal site because she had to practical reason to create one, I wouldn't hold that against her. I'd think it reflected well on her judgment of priorities.

pg, knuth and schneier are practically household names, and ptacek is very googlable. If they're looking for employment, I don't think that a scanty LinkedIn profile is going to be the dealbreaker.

...so there is another category?

I think so: if your name is famous enough, hiring managers will ignore their own rules.

Also, if you went to a top tier school for your subject, most of the rules are ignored. My profile is partially completed, and I haven't updated most of it in a while. I always get a callback when I submit a resume; even if it's a position I'm grossly underqualified for.

If someone knows you, then you have a good chance of scoring an interview; otherwise it's almost impossible, at least in phd-level computer science.

So... no work experience?

It is interesting to hear that some hiring managers consider Linked In a requirement.

The problem, for some of us, is that it's awful awful software. It sends spams to our contacts. It is very difficult and unpleasant to use. It is hard to keep accurate and up to date. We don't like sharing our information with it, because we don't trust Linked In.

That is the reason many of us avoid using Linked In, rather than an objection to social networks in general. (Although some of have that too).

Of course, if it's actually harming our job application prospects, I suppose some of us would reconsider. For most actual programmers, it probably isn't, but who knows.

The more general question here is -- what do we do when there's a social website that has become so popular that it's considered a requirement in at least some communities for hiring, and is one of the best ways to network because everyone is on it -- but is also just a terrible terrible website, in terms of both their UI and their business ethics, and we just dont want to use it. Apparently we've found the answer to how Linked In can get away with being so awful though, they've got the network effect and people have to use it anyway.

> If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

Similarly, if a hiring manager requires a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

I wonder which one of us is right?

the one with the money

In this industry, I'm sure that's both of us.

I expect candidates to have a LinkedIn profile that is up to date [...] If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless

This is very ... interesting. So the next thing is to expect everyone be active on Facebook, otherwise they're socially awkward and perhaps mentally unstable?


I should have probably provided my personal experience with LI - I had LI profile for ages, and keep on maintaining it. No good ever came out of it - lots of spam, that's all. From hiring managers mostly.

Like I said, I ignore Facebook for hiring purposes because I think the context is different. You're not expecting me to go looking at it, so I don't.

Well, there is a parallel. Not being on Facebook is very odd, so it's pretty rational to expect the person to be odd as well. In my experience it's mostly a privacy thing. Not a well-developed opinion necessarily, just an instinctual mistrust to orgs that collect lots of personal information.

WTH? I'm not on Facebook, or any other kind of social network. I don't find myself to be "out of the norm".

I don't need Facebook. In fact, nobody needs. I have the need to share what I do with everybody and I surely don't want to see every details of my friend's list. You know how I talk to them? Face to face. I give them a call, ask them if they whant to have a cup of coffee and talk about what's up.

Now, everyone I tell this responds with "What about those people you don't see a long time ago, or are away, or have been in your clas in the nth grade?" For those that are away, I use email and skype. For the rest, well, there's a reason I haven't talked to them in a long time.

There's also the point of events. I like to invited personally. Even a text is enough. I feel like the person really remembered me, and didn't just click a "send all" button.

And finaly, there's friend bloat. Lots of people I meet ask me for my facebook. they would invite me, I would add them and never remove them because of common courtesy and because of common friend pressure. "X asked me why you unfriended him. Did something happen?" No, I just don't give a damn about his cat!

I don't like facebook and I don't need facebook. I find that, while it may have some interesting uses, is just used for gloating and voyerism.

Why are people downvoting this?

Other than the unnecessary "WTH?" at the start, this is a thoughtful and considered response. Is it just the sentiment that is unpopular?

Agreed, a responsible reaction I think. It's probably getting downvoted because their are a few people on HN that are financially invested in facebook becoming obnoxiously ubiquitous.

Whether you consider yourself "out of the norm" or not has no bearing on whether you actually are. Spoiler alert: You are out of the norm.

He just gave a list of rather good reasons why a normal person might not use facebook. Yes, it is quite uncommon to see a facebook-less person nowadays. But why do you think this implies that a person who doesn't use facebook is necessarily not normal?

Nothing necessary about it. Just probably. Normal people obviously do not think these reasons are good enough not to be on Facebook, which raises the question why does he? Probably because he's not normal.

I sure wasn't expecting replies to my (angry) rant.

To start, I later realised my tone was angrier than it should. For that, I apologise. The "out of the norm" comment really ticked me in a weird way. (I don't know why, but it just did).

Now, to answer you, as this is a reply to your post.

What I really wanted to convey is that I don't need facebook. I don't think Facebook is bad. I don't hate it. But I don't like it either. I respect it as a product, and understand the impact it had in society. But don't think I don't use it only for the bad stuff I said earlier. I just don't see any use for it.

So, for a tl,dr: I don't think those reason are enough for me not to be on facebook. I'm not on facebook because I don't see enough reasons to use it. It's not "too much bad", it's "too few good".

Why do you say that normal people do not think these reasons good enough? Why can't both the facebook-users and the non-facebook-users be normal?

I don't mean this in a mean way, but I'm actually happy that you use this heuristic. I don't want to work at a place where doing what everyone else is doing is valued for its own sake, and you're making this easy for me.

I guess I'm thankful tech work is a seller's market.

As a talented developer, I expect my hiring manager to look beyond a scummy, spammy social network to do their job. If he or she refuses, that's fine. That's a big red flag, and I can look elsewhere for a better fit.

> other people can see it and flag if you make inaccurate claims

Hah ha ha... When I see resume inflating on LI, you think I'm going to annoy someone I already have a relationship with by flagging it so recruiters can get accurate information?

> As a hiring manager, I expect candidates to have a LinkedIn profile that is up to date.

It's nothing personal, but if I ever encountered that while job searching, I would turn tail and run.

I dunno about you, but an engineer that has a web presence at their own domain and no linkedin profile is the exact opposite of clueless in my book. It tells me that they realized that they are solid sought after engineers that realized that they can increase the signal vs noise with respect to recruiting.

This HackerNewsOnion tweet best lampoons this phenomena: https://twitter.com/HackerNewsOnion/status/40645726639764275...

My resume is up to date at /resume.html. Sorry that's not good enough for you. Good luck.

EDIT: Just want to point out that seldo is a co-founder of npm, Inc. where (i'm assuming) he currently works. So apparently to work for npm, you must have and maintain a LinkedIn profile. I find this disturbing for an otherwise important and great company.

There's another reason to not be on LinkedIn, and that is that I don't need to be.

Also as a hiring manager, I DON'T care if you have a linkedIN profile. I do care that you can do the work required well and that you'll be a pleasure to work with.

> I do care that you can do the work required well and that you'll be a pleasure to work with.

Note that this is at a different level of abstraction from "I do/don't care if you have linkedin".

Roughly speaking, seldo said "I use <proxy> to attempt to predict performance" and you said "I don't care about <proxy>, I care about performance".

I have to nitpick because it's important. seldo said, "I expect candidates to make themselves available to the <proxy> I've chosen to predict performance."

> They do some really dumb UI stuff around privacy that is trivially worked around using Incognito.

I didn't realize I could work-around the privacy concerns of publishing personal details on a social network by doing it in Incognito mode. Fascinating.

Hiring managers seem to be the only people in the world who think LinkedIn has any value whatsoever.

You wouldn't hire me, and I'm OK with that; I'm not going to feed a bunch of data into a scumbag spam factory like LinkedIn just to make your job easier.

A couple of years ago, I would have agreed with this.

But at this point, if you're not active on GitHub and/or StackOverflow (assuming you're hiring for open source technologies), I likely am not interested in wasting my time vetting out your resume.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure if I see tons of benefit in keeping a personal website up to date. Designs go out of style so quickly, one would have to re-do their site every 2-3 years or get caught looking stale. It's not worth the effort to a hardcore coder when there's more "fun" projects to play with. Most great coders don't want to whore themselves.

Your comment is a very good one... in 2009.

I know people think this way. But its pretty hard on minorities/women who don't want their github/stackoverflow accounts tied to a identifer to avoid harassment.

"So I'm going to change my hiring practices to take that into account."

As an employee, I expect managers to change their opinions when provided with evidence and/or cogent arguments. You've passed, well done.

>Expecting everyone to have and maintain their own domain probably isn't practical

Depends on the job. I fully expect a web developer of any type to be able to set up and maintain a domain.

And I Google the daylights out of candidates. LinkedIn is usually towards the bottom of the list for things I check.

> it's a very rare web developer who isn't a few degrees away from me

Is it possible you're getting the cause and effect the wrong way round and it's just that your current search method rarely finds a candidate that isn't a few degrees away from you? It would be interesting to have a follow up if you find your new hiring practices find more candidates that you couldn't have found via the social graph.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't researching the background of a candidate beyond the contents of their resume - in other words expecting them to have and inspecting their LinkedIn profile - illegal?

No, there is nothing illegal about that at all (at least in the United States, as a general principle of law) but that appears to be a very common misconception here on Hacker News. (Thank you for saying "correct me if I'm wrong," indicating that you desire to learn something here on Hacker News.) In general, an employer has somewhat of a DUTY to hire carefully, especially if the people the employer hires will have access to personal information of other persons, or to dangerous instrumentalities, or could otherwise cause criminal or civil harm on the job. Employers who are well advised about the law of "negligent hiring and supervision" and the legal exposure that companies can have from a careless or evil employee take care to check references, to ask the references for back references, and to include a job applicant authorization for an appropriate background check (usually contingent on a firm job offer, but also as a condition for continued employment) as part of the hiring process. Employers are allowed to find out, and are EXPECTED to find out, reliable information about the public workplace behavior of the people they hire.

Thinking that the job applicant can control the information flow in the entire process by how the applicant fills out a resume or an application form is one of the biggest misconceptions nonlawyers here on Hacker News have about employment law (again, at least in the United States, the jurisdiction I know best). To the best of my knowledge, there has never been, and could never be, a successful lawsuit by a rejected job applicant if an employer checked back references (for example) and found out something about the applicant's previous PUBLIC, WORKPLACE behavior that suggests that the applicant would be a bad fit for the new job.

I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand the situation it's illegal to take certain types of information into account when making hiring decisions (e.g. race, gender, religion I think, sexuality in some states, etc.). It's not illegal to go looking for more information about a candidate, but if in the course of doing so you also find information in those protected categories, it would be illegal to use that information. The act of finding it out is not itself illegal. The morality of doing so on a network not intended for professional purposes -- like Facebook, say -- is questionable. I don't do that.

All that said, a LinkedIn profile specifically is obviously intended for public information, so finding it and reading it seems morally 100% okay in my book, and I do this all the time. I also google applicants to find their Github profiles if they haven't supplied them, and that seems fair to me too.

> I also google applicants to find their Github profiles if they haven't supplied them, and that seems fair to me too.

We've done somewhat the reverse...we had a script that would use the GitHub API to find projects using certain technologies, measure them according to certain metrics (test coverage, LoC, etc) and resolve them to GitHub profiles which were filtered for location and then reviewed manually. The ones that passed we resolved to LI profiles and contacted about our open positions.

It worked well and almost completely eliminated any discrimination along any protected class. Then again, we may have been violating the GitHub ToS, so a lawyer probably would have dinged us on that. Still, it was such an effective recruiting technique that it may be worth it. And reviewing code in GitHub is so much more enjoyable (and informative) than sifting through resumes.

My name is already registered at Github by someone else, and it's not a common name at all. I just hope they're good!

> I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand the situation it's illegal to take certain types of information into account when making hiring decisions (e.g. race, gender, religion I think, sexuality in some states, etc.).

I'm appalled that you are somebody that hires for a living and you don't know the basic legalities of your profession.

Nope, but thinking someone's inexperienced or untrustworthy because they don't have the business equivalent of a MySpace account is pretty stupid.

It is a reasonable yellow flag in most industries. It isn't perfect evidence of them being inexperienced or untrustworthy, but it does increase the chance, at the population level, of that being true.

Having zero online presence would be a reasonable flag, but if you can't find them on LinkedIn but go on to find them on GitHub, StackExchange, forums relevant to their industry, and/or a personal web site, then I would say that quite exceeds the value of a LinkedIn profile in terms of experience and trust.

Those are all ways to allay the yellow flag, yes, and in an exhaustive search you'd easily pass the tests. But you still raise the flag/concern in a lot of cases. And if the evaluation is perfunctory, everyone with a yellow flag might get cut for ease.

It probably hurts candidates at least a little on the average over the long term, even when they have everything you've mentioned.

> Having zero online presence would be a reasonable flag


Why would it be illegal? How would that law even be written? You'd have to define what a "resume" is, and probably create a government form to serve as a resume, and force employers to only hire people who submit that specific form...

The law could simply say employees must only consider things the applicants have submitted themselves. I can think of a few reasons for such a law - applicants have no control over the internet (eg if I share my name with some criminal who turns up when my interviewer googles me), and this makes it harder for employees to discriminate based on protected categories (race, sex, marital status etc).

But as the other replies have said, it's not illegal today.

It's not illegal it just opens your company up to all kinds of liability.

This is what I was getting at. It opens you up to accusations of discrimination.

Background checks are different to researching a candidate. They are to check that the person doesn't have a hidden criminal record, for example. Researching their private lives crosses the line.

LinkedIn is different, yes, because it's intended as a professional network publicizing your work. But you better be up-front about looking their profiles up, and even then it's troublesome because profiles often include details you would never put on a resume - such as your photo.

I think you should be very careful about researching a candidate for anything beyond normal background/credit checks.

I hope all the people who object to your methods and rationalize that they wouldn't work for you anyway, realize the hypocrisy of their statements.

Hiring manager for/where...

I guess you don't work in a field where good resources are scarce. People where I work don't even check references anymore, you might lose the candidate during the process.

other people can see it and flag if you make inaccurate claims

A glance at LinkedIn would indicate that that rarely if ever happens.

> If you don't have a LinkedIn profile, I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

Geez, Sherlock ...

> I assume you're either very junior, shady, or clueless, and none of those is good.

Or the kind of candidate who will pedantically lecture me about the evils of LinkedIn, which is even worse.

You can't believe the HN crowd is on LinkedIn?

First of all I completely, absolutely agree with everything you are saying about scummy behaviour, spam, etc. And yet they are basically average in that regard among social networking sites. But they provide a service that's much more useful to me than a maximally addictive feed of trivia. It's one of the few social networks I actually use because it makes me money and it's easy to mitigate all the harm. It's a completely pragmatic decision, not affected by how bad their implementation is.

And yes, of course you have your own site with professional details on there. That's just a given isn't it? LinkedIn isn't my main presence on the internet, I agree that would be a sad state of affairs for a tech-savvy person.

The most confusing thing to me about you being surprised is that of all the communities in the world, the one that has the biggest cross section of people responsible for social media having all that scummy behaviour you are complaining about might be HN. If you wanted to find the community with the largest number of that group combined with people who non-ironically refer to themselves as "hustlers" and spend a hell of a lot of time on LinkedIn then that is definitely HN. I'm not saying it's the majority or anything, but of all the "crowds" to expect to not be on LinkedIn ...

> LinkedIn isn't my main presence on the internet, I agree that would be a sad state of affairs for a tech-savvy person.

Why would it be a sad state? Not all of us are interested in social technology, not all of us want to write content for a blog or website, and not all of us want to share the details of our lives with others online.

I was referring to not having your own website, not other social networks.

When I'm hiring I definitely don't expect technical people to care about social network crap or want to write content for a blog (although that would definitely be a plus if it had technical content). But not having your own website? That would be judged pretty harshly if I'm being honest.

Maybe it's because I'm mostly doing this for jobs where the software is related to the internet and depends on a lot of open source software. If all you have online in your name is a LinkedIn profile then that signals a pretty profound disinterest in a lot of the things that would help them be a good fit.

What do you want me to put on my website? I'm not an active software dev these days but I think I can fairly well be described as technically savvy and do pretty complex things both for work and for fun.

I do have my own domain, I host my own email, I am interested, I just don't see any need to have my own web presence.

It's about marketing. Since you don't do it for the money, you don't have the same problems.

I have my own profile, etc. I also use LinkedIn. For a whole bunch of reasons:

* It's where my "general business" social network lives. Which is different from my company network (which lives in a CRM). My twitter social network (public facing me) and my facebook social network (mostly private me) and my app.net network (... erm... mostly tumbleweed ;-)

* The rest of the world uses it. Like it or not a stack of people go there to find out about people. Not being there means those people miss you or trust you less.

* It has some level of value that a private site does not. Recommendations etc. are more than mildly useless - but slightly less useless than a random quote on your own web site.

* The network is useful. I've managed to contact and strike up relationships with folk because of my LinkedIn connections. People have reached out to me from my network. Some of those connections have resulted in non-trivial money for my business.

Sure - having LinkedIn as your only profile on the net is foolish in the extreme. Having it as part of your identity online has been useful — for me anyway.

I upvoted you, but still disagree. (I'm happy everytime someone forces me to clarify what I'm thinking) Here's the general idea... Most everyone else is using it, and you can get better access and knowledge if you use it too.

Before every meeting I have, I look the person up. If I use it, and most of my friends do, I can figure out who we know in common. If I need something from another company and I don't know who to contact, I look at 2nd degree connections for hints.

LinkedIn is in the toolkit of every tech-savvy business person. It can also be a people for engineers who want a good permanent place that non-technical people can find them. Non-technical folks won't look in Github.

Your last point is relevant. Yes, there is a correlation between LinkedIn proponents and Github profiles, but why wall yourself in to a Github only universe?

Before every meeting I have, I look the person up.

I can't tell you how important this can be, especially for sales meetings where the other participants may not be the kind of people with their own domain names and websites.

absolutely. As a sales tool, it could not be replaced. Being able to find decision makers, or review people's experience before calls and meetings is crucial.

> but why wall yourself in to a Github only universe?

I really don't. I just avoid LinkedIn. My Github profile is the predominant one when you google my name (after the g+ profile because Google is like that), but I maintain profiles on a couple of freelance websites which host relevant work experience. Through those sites and my personal one, I get regularly contacted about prospective employers.

My LinkedIn profile had not brought me a single good offer when I turned it off. I've not felt its loss. I strongly believe a lot of people who "rely" on linkedin only rely on it because they don't realize the alternatives are better.

Independent of the job offer, it can make life more difficult for any non-programmer who you might interact with professionally. Why force them to meet on your terms? Sometimes you don't feel the loss because you don't see it.

Again - this is just respectful disagreement. I appreciate the discussion.

You could reverse that logic to them - if they force you to be on LinkedIn, they are forcing you to meet on their terms.

Appreciate the discussion.

True. Though isn't it better to build bridges rather than raise them?

Not everybody uses LinkedIn for job offers. I use mine to keep a cache of professional contacts that I've met and worked with in previous postings. I also frequently get ping'd by people with very good questions about my somewhat less common field.

It's a useful self-updating "Rolodex" that (just about) everyone uses. I don't ascribe it much value beyond that. Don't do posts, etc. I do have my own domain although it's mostly for static content and mostly use various other platforms for blogging, photos, and so forth.

Companies and recruiters aren't going to search to find my personal website (unless they're already interested in me)

Unless you're already a big name superstar, you have to maintain at least some presence in a centralized location where people can find you.

> Companies and recruiters aren't going to search to find my personal website (unless they're already interested in me)

Github. Github Github Github. LinkedIn for recruiters seems to be a case of aggregating people who potentially have some sort of experience related to what you want. It's great for them because it gives them a pool of people to cold-call. It's not so great for the aspiring employees because chances are greater you will be contacted by a company that doesn't care about you and vaguely relates to what you do than anything else.

It seems like people are afraid that if they delete their linkedin profile they'll miss out on "all those job opportunities!"... Damn it guys, everything dev-related outside of js/html/php is a buyer's market. If you're in need of jobs, there's plenty of high quality freelance websites that can act as a linkedin profile and actually have running jobs.

I'd love to know if anyone actually relies completely on LinkedIn to get their all-precious jobs in the tech sector... because if you do, you're doing it wrong and I'd love to help you.

No one cares about Github on the corporate level, besides most of us don't have time to put projects on Github.

What I gathered from this thread is that the only reason people are on LinkedIn is that it gets them those precious jobs they can't get elsewhere.

"I don't have time to put my stuff on Github" when talking about your tech career easily equates to "I don't have time to go to the doctor" when talking about your health.

Me personally, I do have projects on Github, mostly coded on rainy weekends when nothing better was happening, or when stuck on a plane/train.

I rather spend my free time after work on this one life, with family and friends than coding.

Not to mention that most corporate work is under NDA that prevent us to publish anything about it.

Or maybe you work for a company that legally prohibits you from putting your stuff on Github.

Those kind of contracts are quite common in the finance world, and to a lesser extent in R&D in big enterprise tech firms (Apple, Microsoft, etc.)

That really does depend on your market and customers. I've got a github account - but it's pretty much incidental to getting new work. My track record, value delivered, personal network, etc. do that.

Speaking of the HN bubble...

My thoughts exactly. He's completely blind.

Again: what bubble?

Tell me I'm in my own bubble - fine. Talk about the "HN bubble", what? You're on HN. All these people replying and disagreeing with me are on HN. In fact, despite the upvotes, it's pretty clear a lot of people find LinkedIn useful.

So again, what bubble are you referring to? Seriously...

I disagree entirely. I put my projects on my own site. I see no reason to put then on github in any way shape or form. What will it offer to me that my site does not?

Expecting that people will put stuff on github gives an unfair advantage to rich people who can afford to spend more time doing unpaid work, among other things.

You can read more about such arguments here -> http://www.ashedryden.com/blog/the-ethics-of-unpaid-labor-an...

Github doesn't really work great for me. Most of the best code I've written is not open source and AFAIK I can't reorder the repositories to even highlight the good stuff on my user page. I also get more recruiters scraping my Github email address.

Github is not your resume, no matter how many blogs tell you it is.

Your comment is fair but you need to qualify a bit. You don't feel people should use LinkedIn as their defacto online resume - that's fair.

But to brush off LinkedIn entirely is naive. I'm a "hacker" but I use it all the time. When I identify a potential customer, I need to look up who to contact there. And I need to know their email address. LinkedIn lets me search companies & job titles so I can find the right person. That's very useful.

I've been in your situation in two different occasions; having to contact someone through LinkedIn. Beware: Anecdotal evidence follows.

In both cases I've had no reply. I eventually got through to one of them (by googling them better a few days later) and eventually got to ask them why I didn't get a reply - turns out the message went straight to spam and that "LinkedIn just sends me crap emails so I ignore them when I see them".

I use LinkedIn to find out which person in my contact list I should contact outside of LinkedIn to get an introduction. It's extremely useful for that.

Isolating yourself from 90% of any professional network which does not consist of the HN crowd is the opposite of being "professional".

90%? Where do you get that statistic?

LinkedIn is not just for recruiters -- it is, for better or worse, the first place where your business contacts will often go to check you out. It exists for you to project the optimal image of yourself in a professional context. It is useful because it has a consistent format that makes it much more easily readable than a collection of custom sites.

Having a LinkedIn page isn't mutually exclusive with creating your own page / blog / whatever. What it does do is let people see at a glance where you come from, who you've worked with and what work you're interested in. It's the tl;dr of your professional profile; not the entire profile itself.

I don't care about the security issues because I don't intend to put anything on there that I don't intend to be public knowledge. I don't care about the spam because I basically just forward everything from LinkedIn to spam. LinkedIn is very useful at what it does; and as long as I can keep it in that little box, I'll continue to use it.

And I know very few people who have gotten a job from a cold call on LinkedIn. Nobody gets jobs that way; you usually have to know someone who works there already. LinkedIn helps answer the "who do you know here again?" question because the interviewer who looks at your profile 5 minutes before you walk into his office will already know that you used to work at some startup with his head of development. That kind of connection is what helps you get the job, and LinkedIn is great for it.

You're ignoring the whole connections bit about LinkedIn. Keeping track of your professional connections through time has value to you as well as those you connect to. If you don't see it, that's fine.

>Keeping track of your professional connections through time has value to you as well as those you connect to.

And how long do you think LinkedIn will be the hub for this specific use?

I'm not being facetious; these companies come and go. The fact that it makes no money and uses a few "dirty" tricks makes me skeptical of LinkedIn's persistence. As the OP said, it's nice to control your online persona.

> "The fact that it makes no money ..."

LinkedIn pulls in a lot of revenue. They're expecting $2bn+ in 2014.


I don't understand how that's relevant. Obviously, if a competitor appears, I'll have a profile on there too. The fact that it won't be there forever doesn't stop me using LinkedIn or Facebook or my mac or Tesco for that matter.

I was hired at two of the last three jobs because of timely appropriate contact from inside recruiters on LinkedIn. The third was through an outside recruiter.

Sure, 90%+ of the recruiter contacts on LinkedIn are not interesting to me. I could do a better job of telling recruiters ahead of time not to contact me. I use the contacts as a determination of the overall health of the industry and my visibility in that industry. Both useful things to have.

In short, I like LinkedIn. I work with many ex-LinkedIn folks and I think it has added real value to my professional career.

LinkedIn gives people's attributes in a standard, easy-to-compare format. That's worth a lot. (From my side, I'm happy to be listed in a standard format because, to put it bluntly, I'm a better coder than most of the people I'm competing with; I don't need a quirky site to make me stand out. That doesn't mean I don't have my own website (I do), but what do I lose by listing myself on LinkedIn?)

Gandi has a morality clause in their ToS; there are any number of good, cheap registrars that don't, so I'd say go with one of them instead.

>Gandi has a morality clause in their ToS; there are any number of good, cheap registrars that don't, so I'd say go with one of them instead.

Thank you for highlighting this!

Yikes, just to balance all the negativity.

I've had nothing but good experiences with LinkedIn. My LinkedIn profile is set for as-public-as-possible. For some reason I don't get all the problems that everyone else seems to complain about. Fwiw, I've never allowed LinkedIn to connect to my email and scrape my contacts. I will also say that I put care into my LinkedIn profile. It's purposely "unprofessional" and honest. Probably would look natural if I pasted it into an OKCupid profile. It seems to attract the right people(fun trendy tech companies) and repel almost all the ones I don't want(financial, telecom, insurance) except for the few recruiters who are clearly just doing scatter-shot to any profiles that has any vague mention of anything somewhat related to the role they're trying to fill.

A lot of people who write checks and make hiring decisions are 1) on it and 2) use it. A lot of them are not hackers and can't be bothered to have an indy web presence, as easy as it may be, linked in is easier, if not more convenient (but obviously with a spammy tradeoff that doesn't seem to have cost them just yet).

As an engineer with 10+ years experience, I realize that relationships matter a lot. Especially with people outside your world. And a lot of great work can be done with non technical people who bring other things to the table (money, IP, connections, reducing barriers to entry). So, imho, it's best not to shut off Linkedin as it's a decent enough channel of discovery and contact in the working world, bridging people with different experience, expertise and backgrounds. It's that mix that I like.

Im not saying it can't be better - it can and should be. But network effects are in play, adding to it's value. It's not that easy to go at it differently.

I don't use LinkedIn as a CV. I use LinkedIn to store and correspond with my professional network. Perhaps what you are referring to is that LinkedIn is ripe for a good competitor.

Or maybe not really a competitor, but a service that is actually focused on that use case. Keeping track of people you've met professionally doesn't seem to be what LinkedIn thinks it is or wants to be for, but it's the thing I like about it. You could argue I could just use the various "contacts" applications for that, but LinkedIn feels both easier and better to me. I look at all the recruitment/job search stuff as a somewhat lamentable side show that keeps their lights on.

I agree. Originally, LinkedIn filled the role of a professional, non-shady, social network. I could trust them with my data because they were serious, professional and no-nonsense. If they don't want to fill that role any more, perhaps some other site should.

LinkedIn serves 90% of us one, and only one purpose - it's an online rolodex that keeps track of where our colleagues are working, and what their current phone number and email address is. That's it. Bounce around in the valley long enough, and fairly soon you'll have 500+ contacts, and LinkedIn has every one of their email addresses and phone numbers in one spot.

Building your own website to showcase your skills is great. In the professional world LinkedIn is a great place to stay connected professionally especially with older people.

Most of the time when someone asks if I have LinkedIn it is because they are leaving the company and still want to stay in touch professionally or even endorse my skills.

Both have benefits but try to see outside the HN bubble.

> Both have benefits but try to see outside the HN bubble.

Given the love LinkedIn is getting on HN, I'm not sure what bubble you're referring to here...

I deleted my LinkedIn profile when I got fed up with hearing how scummy the site was; one story too much got me to take a look at my profile and realize that nothing good ever came out of that site for me.

Well it works for some people. For instance, a friend just told me earlier today that he got the job I forwarded to him from one recruiter that contacted me through linkedin.

Also, you don't see the connections between people you didn't know met each other. I find it useful despite all the issues that they have.

Disclaimer: I don't live in USA and I suspect the experience is quite different over there.

I lived in Australia until early this year. I got contacted over linked in by [large US tech company] for a job in the US which I ended up getting at nearly double my Australian salary.

You could say I was glad I still used LinkedIn.

I downvoted because this is just a stupid comment: "I can't believe people still use LinkedIn". LinkedIn is clearly one of the most valuable sets of data in existence for pretty much anyone involved in business, HNers included. Like most things, it has its faults but that's not reason enough to "not use it".

http://careers.stackoverflow.com/ is also a good alternative to LinkedIn

Only for developers

Nobody knows to look at some random domain for you. Any hiring agent will instantly look at LinkedIn for your CV. How is it better to hide that?

What is it with the love for hiring agents here all of a sudden? See my reply elsewhere in the thread regarding the subject.

Luck is the combination of preparation and opportunity.

You may find the best job for you when you aren't looking if someone reaches out to you. Kind of hard if you don't know they are actually looking.

In my mind, this is the same argument as whether or not we should ask people to follow a standard model or customize it themselves.

Do we use SAT scores or personal interviews? Do we recruit from Harvard or allow anyone to apply because there are diamonds everywhere?

LinkedIn has simply made itself the defacto standard for most people in terms of an online resume. (So has, btw Github for developers, and maybe even StackOverflow.)

We can debate all we want about whether or not it's "right." But at the end of the day, different people will have different philosophies and lie on different ends of the standardized vs. customized spectrum. There are trade-offs toe each. So let's minimize the negativity a bit please =)

+1 for Gandi.net, they are really good. I was checking out their site, looking for a domain service. I had heard a bit about them, and then I saw their motto, "Gandi.net - no bullshit." So they got my business.

One thing that everyone likes linkedin for (ok, most) is that your resume is there for your friends to see. Lie on your resume too much, you WILL get called-out on it.

So it's almost a sort of self-validating resume checker.

I got my current job with linkedin. At least for those looking for a job (which is the only moment I update my profile), I can't see why adding new options to your job search can hurt.

I use and recommend Gandi as well. Note though that their free SSL is for one year only.

StartSSL has free certs for ever.

For someone who isn't a programmer, and doesn't have much of anything to put in a GitHub profile, LinkedIn is useful. For one, people use it, including startup founders (it's one of those things where you can not like something, but if people use it more than the thing you like better, it doesn't help). For another, it's standardized (maybe not well, but it's still somewhere you can go and be reasonably informed as to someone's background, without having to figure out what is going on in their custom URL (a lot of times, the personal website is great. It also is confusing sometimes when you want a summary that you can grasp in less than a minute, especially if it requires clicking around). Finally, you can see how you are connected to someone very easily, which for me, has been really useful in both finding warm leads and in helping refer friends places that I was unaware I had relationships with employees.

I'm tech-savvy, but not a programmer. LinkedIn is a useful tool that I rarely use. However, when I've needed it, it's done what I wanted it to do.

Is LinkedIn perfect? No, probably not.

Is it the best tool we have for public resumes? Yes.

No need to go into it any more than that, your post was so negative and didn't propose any alternatives. Sounds like someone is bitter they didn't get more friends requests accepted...

I get a ton of contract leads via LinkedIn, and that's about it. Money is worth more to me than all those other things you mentioned. This come from them having a large user base.

Your thing about just having a github and a cv and portfolio actually doesn't work, because most of your market as a dev is not trolling Github all day?

It's a good first funnel.

Check your site analytics if you disagree.

The sad thing is how many tech-savvy employers still ask for it during the hiring process. I am concerned that not being on LinkedIn is unusual looking from a potential employer's perspective, like maybe I am hiding something. But, if my Github and actual resume aren't enough, they should hire someone else.

Uh? Dude, linkedin is industry standard

Glad I don't work in your industry.

So is wearing ties.

I'd be cool with this if it were bow ties.

My LinkedIn profile says: I hate LinkedIn if you want my contact please reach me on [my blog].

this seems crazy to me. how can any professional working today not use linkedin? When we get new employees into our office from the non-tech world and they don't have a linkedin profile, they are slightly mocked - like, let with the times buddy.

God forbid I'd be "slightly mocked". Especially when it's about my ideals on not using a scummy company's product.

That aside, people who judge others by their (non-)use of social media are the worst. Someone who mocks friends for not using facebook is not a good friend. Someone who mocks colleagues for not being on LinkedIn is not a good person to work with.

I just mean, we can't possible do our jobs without it. A big part of my company is sales, so even us Engineers need to be on linkedin with filled out profiles to make the company look legit. Also, all the sales people need to ask us for introduction to people we know. When a sales person here is trying to reach company X, they see an engineer knows another engineer there and boom - the connection is made. Trying to not be on linkedin here would be like swimming upstream.

I have a LinkedIn account, but I've literally never used it for anything. afaik not having it wouldn't have inconvenienced me at any point so far. I'm sure it's pretty far out of date at this point.

Your own web site does not show me our common connections.

All of your 'issues' with LinkedIn can be solved by creating a separate LinkedIn e-mail alias that goes to trash.

LinkedIn seems to be changing, and I am not sure for the better.

Recently they stopped access to a whole bunch of CRM players to LinkedIn API. Only Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics are allowed now.


(Disclosure: Zoho CRM was one of the affected products - we offered to pay for their API access but no dice)

I'd rank LinkedIn number 2 after Godaddy in the list of Successful Shady Companies (list ranked by shadiness BTW). Their entire business model revolves around tricking the user into doing stuff that - if it was clearly explained - they would never want to do.

Recruiters paying to have premium access to candidates (a large part of LinkedIn's revenue) does not appear to involve tricking anyone.

Indeed many people joined LinkedIn specifically so that prospective employers could find them.

Their shadiness is not limited to usability dark patterns; I am fairly sure they're scraping people's contact lists from gmail and the like without consent via impersonation (have gmail open in one tab, linkedin in another...). Exactly how they're accomplishing that, I'd love to know -- Facebook is likely pulling the same trick.

That's a pretty wild claim; what observations have led you to this conclusion?

Hi have noticed this repeatedly as well. Under the "People you may know" section, I see names of people with whom I've emailed only 1 time, often many years ago. These are people with whom I have no relationship, and the only record of them in my life is a gmail email. This leads me to believe that LinkedIn is somehow accessing this data without my permission.

Actually, that makes perfect sense, with no need for exotic cross-tab scripting attacks.

That person may be in your address book, which you've never shared with LinkedIn, but you are in their address book, which they clearly have shared.

Plausible for some, not others. I've seen LinkedIn suggest I connect to "people" that aren't people at all, but role addresses. E.g., reception@[my oral surgeon]. Others are email addresses that are ancient, 15 years old at least, or for domains that no longer exist.

No idea how they've gotten access to that, but I've never knowingly authorized a connection to my address books.

This is the behavior I have observed too. There are addresses that could not plausibly be gotten by any means other than unauthorized scraping of my mail or contacts.

The only other mechanism I can think of is that maybe they're getting them via Android or iPhone apps (not necessarily linkedin's app) with less-than-upfront disclosure of what the app's doing. Either way, it's slimy behavior.

Wouldn't it be possible for LinkedIn to infer that you might have a relationship with a person based on that person's relationships with other people LI knows that you know (or even overlap of companies, city/industry pairs, etc.)?

LinkedIn bought Rapportive....

Rapportive captures the contact info of every person whose email you open (or who you write to).

What's more likely is that people that you contact via email are allowing LinkedIn to search their contact list.

Linkedin makes Facebook look like a real good deal.

At least Facebook has cat pictures and games.

what sort of things do they do?

This is a serious question, I don't know and am curious.

The most provable thing is that if you ever make the mistake of granting them access to your email account, everyone on your contact list can expect multiple spam messages FROM YOU begging them to join LinkedIn. It's the kind of thing only the shadiest of shady Facebook apps employ.

Harvesting of contact information even without permitted access is less clear cut but there's widespread concern due to the large number of questionable coincidences.

Linked in is a very strange world; maybe it's good for job seekers or recruiters, but I find that the most frequent interactions I have there are either recruiters contacting me for ridiculous jobs that I would never be interested in (and sometimes am not qualified for). The second most frequent type of interactions I have there are where people endorse me for various skills.

Inevitably, I get endorsed by people who have no knowledge of said skills: I'm not sure why a technology-phobic college admissions officer would endorse my skills in distributed software engineering, and what would be the value of such an endorsement?

> Inevitably, I get endorsed by people who have no knowledge of said skills: I'm not sure why a technology-phobic college admissions officer would endorse my skills in distributed software engineering, and what would be the value of such an endorsement?

I have to agree. I've gotten so many endorsements from non-software engineers who I've never worked with for my apparent XML abilities. I literally don't know what to think about that.

>I literally don't know what to think about that.

The "endorsement" system is an utter joke. When it was implemented, "endorsing" people consisted of clicking on any and every little oval that was in front of the user. I bet everyone here has been endorsed for multiple things they are unassociated with.

The idea that someone thought that a real-life, personal "endorsement" could be recreated by clicking a button that half the population won't read is beyond me.

LinkedIn seems to be useful because it's hot (as in, everyone is there). But outside of that original, clever idea (a professional social network) it doesn't offer much outside of its network effect.

It's why I made sure "coffee" made it into my top 10 endorsements. Shows how seriously I take the the system ;-)

(BTW It's slipped to #9 now... if anybody wants to endorse me for coffee that would be lovely ;-)

An ex-coworker and I are both endorsed for endorsements. The system is such an utter joke - the worst is getting endorsed for things and skills I don't care to advertise.

It's strange - because it would be so easy to make a reasonable one: 1. Users must give a comment with their endorsement 2. That comment must be at least 141 characters long. 3. Allow users to "agree" with endorsements. Let the owner choose the order.

A childhood friend added me on LinkedIn, I haven't interacted with her since I was maybe 10 years old. But I guess she knows I rock at SQL!

A previous boss endorsed me for PHP, at that job I used PHP exactly 0 times. Needless to say, he wasn't a very good boss either.

I think it's sometimes easier to click on a couple of endorsements just to get the damn box to go away. I'm pretty sure many of my endorsements come that way.

It's also weird that I'm most endorsed for some of my weakest skills. Everyone thinks I'm a great Python programmer except me, it seems.

I keep getting endorsed for jQuery. I keep being reminded of this: http://www.doxdesk.com/img/updates/20091116-so-large.gif

I had a number in my Javascript variable once and it took a lot more than jQuery to get it back out.

What did I just read?

It's supposed to be a "I helped you, now you help me" WINK WINK kind of a thing.

I can't wait for the day LinkedIn goes the way of the Myspace. The only thing people will be wondering is how it took so long. That being said, I'm looking for a job now and couldn't imagine not using LinkedIn. Everyone asks for it.

This absurdity is found all over the internet and it's the result of Google's crawling policy. You can do the same kind of thing with nytimes.com articles and other websites that want their context indexed by Google but at the same time restrict access to it. These absurdities are made and work because most people do not understand how to use the software they have.

Yup. They need to show all the information to the Google bot in order to rank higher on the SERP. If they did not show the full name to the bot, this would not be possible. But they need to have the same behavior to any one visiting their site from Google search results.

I just use a incognito browser when I need to lookup someone on LinkedIn unless I want them to know that I visited their profile.

I think Quora changed their behavior a little since the earlier days? They now always have the first answer visible to everyone.

I thought Google heavily penalised sites that made content available to the Google bot but firewalled content for everybody else?

I think there is a penalty for showing Googlebot something other than what people can see, but these sites all use tricks to get around it by allowing users to see the same thing as Googlebot in various circumstances. For example Quora has the ?share=1 URL variable. The Wall Street Journal allows users to read a limited number of articles for free if they clicked in from Google (tracked via a cookie). The New York Times allows free reads from anywhere for a limit, but also tracked via a cookie. LinkedIn blocks their registered users, which is probably the worse system ever.

This is subtly different for Linkedin. They DO show the same thing to Googlebot as logged out users. Registered users end up seeing a different page which Google bot has no way of accessing because it does not have an account.

So GoogleBot can't scrape more than 10 NYT articles per month, right?

Googlebot doesn't maintain a nytimes.com session, so it can crawl an unlimited number of articles same as you could if you tell your browser to not accept cookies from nytimes.com

LinkedIn is probably my least favorite tech company. I have deleted my account (or whatever is the closest thing they allow, it might be called something like "unlink account") three times now over about two years. This was after attempting to unsubscribe from all emails but continuing to receive them.

The first two times I deleted my account, my account magically resurrected itself after I accidentally clicked a link to a LinkedIn page and my password manager automatically logged me in. Apparently logging in resurrects deleted accounts, no questions asked. After the second time, I wisened up and removed all my LinkedIn cookies and disabled my password manager for the domain, then deleted my account for the third time.

That had worked for a long time, until just a few days ago, when I received a random LinkedIn newsletter out of the blue. This was disturbing. I clicked the Unsubscribe link, which asked me to log in, but my login didn't work (which is nice, because apparently my account is slightly more deleted now). So I tweeted at LinkedIn, and they said they put my email address on their Do Not Contact list.

Hopefully the reign of terror is over, but I somehow doubt it.

I don't even have a LinkedIn account, I've never had an account, and I still receive their emails. It's mystifying...

> Apparently logging in resurrects deleted accounts, no questions asked.

I had the same experience with Facebook.

This is the tension that is LinkedIn.

While they were growing, they allowed great amount of sharing. Now it seems they are transitioning from a growth based company to growing their revenue--I've personally been finding more and more examples of this increased friction.

So far that tension seems to still be 'ok', they still give away, for free, most of the value is in their huge user database. Their monetization strategy has been to tighten things up so it's still valuable for most people, with the exception of sales and recruiters. If you are one of them, then to get the value of the database you need to pay.

Given the network effects of their user database, I suspect over time what they give away will be less and less and we'll see more examples of this.

I noticed this the other day -- while logged in, LinkedIn insisted I must upgrade to Premium in order to see the last name of the person whose profile I was looking at (which of course, was publicly once I logged out).

Might you find some value from the person, and LinkedIn, knowing you looked at that profile?

I can't offhand think of any, but that's one difference between these two use cases.

Yeah, small bits of value.

Before any interview, I'd check out the people I'd go see. They would know I looked at their profile (which shows interest and due diligence) and if they had not checked out my profile already, they would now which helps me imprint on them better, if that makes sense. I'd also check out the people I'd be working with, and if they see that I checked out their profile, they'd probably check mine out too (just to see who this guy is that visited their profile) thus that makes me stand out a bit and we're on a better footing.

On the flip side, if an interviewer checks me out before I go in for an interview, it shows actual interest and makes me consider the company more seriously. So I actually appreciate it when an interviewer drops by my linkedin and I can see that they did. It's a plus. Like a pre-connect before an interview.

Outside of that, I'm not sure.

I can think of one. My current director viewed my profile and didn't contact me during my employment with my last employer.

I took a look at the company he worked for and contacted him myself about an opportunity. Now I work for him (he's an excellent leader too).

Had I not seen that he viewed my profile, I wouldn't be working for his company now.

As an aside, I will generally always view profiles in an incognito window.

Except anonymous users get the benefit of being both anonymous and able to view the profile. LinkedIn pushes users to either upgrade or sign out. Works for me, I don't like signing in often either.

They only really push users to upgrade. They don't let you know that you can view the full profile if you sign out. That's just an obscure (possibly temporary) workaround.

I saw this recently to, where i had done a google search of the person: the google search result showed their full nam in the actual link to linkedin - after clickingto go to the linkedin page, from the full name link, it withheld the last name.


Isn't that considered cloaking and a direct violation of Google's Webmaster guidelines? https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66355

That's the kind of thing expertsexchange.com was busted for amongst other sites. Or is LinkedIn simply "above the law" because of their search volume?

DISCLAIMER: I'm Experts Exchange's senior volunteer administrator.

That's just one of the things EE was busted for. For logged in members, they would see the pages from a Google SERP one would expect to see; for non-members (or those who weren't logged in), they would see a page that said "sign up". It's not unprecedented -- the New York Times does the same thing -- but the way EE did it (over strong objections from the user community) was singularly creepy. That EE's competitors had Matt Cutts on speed dial just hastened the imposition of the Panda et seq. penalties.

The good news -- at least, for those of us who aren't natural born haters -- is that a change in management has resulted in the paywall coming down, and the penalties imposed are slowly but surely being overcome.

That is the precise inverse of what LinkedIn is doing.

Never used LinkedIn before, no account - see exactly what Google SERP shows.

Never used EE before, no account - you get a page asking you to "sign up" instead of the Google SERP page.

With respect, that's not true: http://www.ee-stuff.com/images/LoggedOutView.png

You DO get a message asking you to join just above the question, but nothing else.

They still exist?

Why wouldn't EE exist? Despite the best efforts of some well-known bloggers whose site wouldn't exist if it had to depend solely on actual income, EE exists because it has a business model that DOES work.

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