LinkedIn boosts referral tools for employers, job seekers

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Social media platform LinkedIn will add new features over the next few months to improve its online professional community, including updates on referral requests, skills assessments and a manager training tool.

Improvements to LinkedIn’s tools for recruiters have been discussed since February; the latest updates will involve a job referral tool designed to help employers and job seekers find the best possible match for vacant positions — a challenge with the unemployment rate at its lowest in 49 years.

“Every eight seconds, someone is hired on LinkedIn,” Monica Lewis, director of product at LinkedIn said Monday. “Job seekers are more effective on LinkedIn — we’re giving them better job matches, alerts and improving their odds of hearing back from employers.”

After applying for a job posted on LinkedIn, the site will show users if any of their connections work at the company. If the job seeker has a connection at the company they applied to, they’ll be able to hit a button that automatically asks that person for a job referral. Lewis said applicants are 9 times more likely to land a job if they’re referred by a current employee.

“It’s simple, but so powerful,” Lewis said during a conference call to detail the changes, noting that she found her current job through a connection on the social media site. “I know how valuable these connections can be.”

One participant on the call expressed concern that the referral tool creates a disadvantage to job seekers who don’t have an extensive professional network to recommend them for jobs. LinkedIn executives cited their network as a resource for working professionals.

“We’re trying to educate them that they do have a network,” said Kiran Prasad, vice president of product and Flagship at LinkedIn. “Whether it’s neighbors, friends or classmates, they have people who care about them and want to help. We’ll educate them to connect to the people you know, they’re the ones who want to help you already.”

In a few months, job seekers will be able to prove they actually have the skills listed on their profile. LinkedIn plans to add “skill assessment tests” to its job application feature so employers can check for aptitude. LinkedIn executives didn’t specify which skills would be tested, or whether companies could request custom exams.

“It validates skills to let employers know which candidates they should be spending time with,” Lewis said.

Last year, LinkedIn acquired employee engagement platform Glint, which they plan to incorporate to monitor working conditions and provide manager training sessions. Erica Lockheimer, vice president of engineering and LinkedIn Learning, said their platform already has 15,000 courses for professionals, but adding Glint’s AI features will help LinkedIn Learning determine which programs managers should take, based on employee assessments of their performance.

“Managers have a big impact on the engagement levels of teams,” said Jim Barnett, founder of Glint and vice president of product at LinkedIn. “With the integration of our products, the manager is getting a nudge that provides content on key areas they need to focus on.”

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