Full Contact Computing
Bare knuckles, no holds barred computing

LinkedIn Fails

LinkedIn has some good bones but a lot of the features fail. It’s like a house that is well-built, it just has some poor design features, like having all of the bedrooms downstairs and the kitchen upstairs, or no back door, or you have to close one door before you can open another.

One of these poor features is the employment history. It works OK if you want a straight chronological listing, but what if you want a functional one? In my own case, I worked as a consultant and was at several companies over a 10-year span, which is entirely reasonable, but I don’t want someone quickly glancing at my profile to conclude I am a job-hopper. “Look at this! He only worked here six months!” Yeah, it was a six-month contract.

So what are my options with LinkedIn?  Take it or leave it. It’s just too bad that I want a different format. I must either strap myself into their straight-jacket or simply not detail my employment history. The way I get around it is by writing up what I want in the format that I want in the Summary, but this is a work-around of a bad feature. I shouldn’t have to work around it.

Another failure is with the way LinkedIn handles small companies. I once worked as half of a partnership, truly a small company. If I want to put that company down as part of my employment history, LinkedIn doesn’t recognize it and wants me to register information about it. To do so, it wants to send me an email at my corporate address. Now, we didn’t have a website and didn’t have a “company_name.com” address. I used Gmail. But do you think I can use that Gmail address here? No, of course not. It won’t let me. I imagine the same would happen if you worked for a company that is now out of business.

Yet another area is recommendations. This is where you can sing the praises of a colleague, and it has a couple of holes in it. For one, if you are checking out someone, see if they have simply traded recommendations, i.e., giving one to get one in return. Then figure out how much that’s worth, if it was given only at the price of getting one back. I think a timeout would fix this, where you can’t receive a recommendation from someone that you’ve given one to until 6 months has elapsed.

The other problem with recommendations is that you HAVE to pick one of the positions in your employment history as part of a recommendation you give to someone. Well, see above regarding the lock-step method in which they make you list your employment history. Can you work around this by putting that company in your employment history long enough to send the recommendation and then take it out? No, of course not. If you try that it hides the recommendation until you put the history back in or associate the recommendation with another position in your employment history.  

Finally, how about adding someone to your network? First, you are interrogated by LinkedIn about how you know the individual. If you choose the “I don’t know them” option, LinkedIn basically tells you go to Hell. You can’t send an invitation; you can cancel or go back to their profile and figure out how you do know them. . . kind of like standing in the corner until you figure out the error of your ways. If we can’t use this option, then why is it even an option?!?!?!?

The other options of colleague, classmate, other, or “done business together” further demand to know where, i.e., what particular company or school, or test you to see if you know their email address, before any progress can be made. “Friend” is the only option that allows one to merely send the invite and get on with one’s life.

Why is this all so difficult? I understand that LinkedIn wants to emphasize the “link” part of the name, and connect or reconnect us with people, but how about giving us a little bit of control over it? Seriously, aren’t 99.999% of the people on LinkedIn adults? This isn’t Myspace. There aren’t a bunch of irresponsible brats running rampart here, so treat us like the adults we are. Right now, LinkedIn is about 3rd grade.


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