Will This Site Create Your Career Path?

Danielle Beurteaux

LinkedIn is probably best known as a tool for established careerists to build networks and find their next job, i.e. social media for the corporate set. But the site has been trying to spread its appeal. Now, it has announced and released the LinkedIn Students app after piloting it with students at two universities. It’s supposed to help the almost and newly graduated with job searches, but going beyond job postings (although those are included) by suggesting possible careers tracks based on college major, what companies have hired alumni from different colleges, and their career tracks.

This is only the most recent effort on the part of LinkedIn to develop new angles. Last fall, the company launched the pilot of Profinder, a site that matches freelancers and the companies that need their services. Although a bit late to that game, the service was meant to leverage LinkedIn’s 400-plus million members as a sort of ready-made network for freelancers and the people who hire them.

Is this how we’ll find jobs in the future? The important role networking plays in job searching is pretty well known. But, it turns out, not that many job seekers actively use their network when looking for work.

According to the results of a recent survey by Future Workplace and Beyond, almost three-quarters of the human resources professionals surveyed said that employee referrals were the best way to get a job. But less than 10% of job seekers take this route. Passive job seekers are those who currently have a position but are “open to new opportunities,” while active job seekers are, as you’d expect, looking for a job. The former group has a distinct advantage over the latter, especially if they have a large and active network group.

The research director of Future Workplace tells Boston.com that job seekers should network their way to someone who’s already working at their target company and get that valuable “in” before applying.

And another finding of the study supports LinkedIn’s new system for students: college majors matter to employers, but a GPA? Not so much.

But if LinkedIn’s Students app is relying upon the data – i.e. people – already in its system, will the recommendations and guidance be limited? How useful will it be for a generation that’s entering a radically different career environment from their parents’ generation? Many of the members of this latest new-employee group are already on the receiving end of a lot of career advice, and some are taking advantage of career and life coaching, sometimes at a pretty steep price, before they have much of either – and sometimes before they’ve even been handed their college degree.

Plus, LinkedIn Students has some interesting competition. Career matching done the online dating way – that’ll give you a quick idea of Elevated Careers, a new service from eHarmony. Elevated Careers, which is in beta at the moment, uses the same technology behind eHarmony and measures skills, culture, and personality. It gives job seekers a “Compatibility Scorecard” for his or her current company, and for companies that are hiring. The goal is to find the best “fit” that will lead to long-term employment (in other words, chronic job hoppers might not want to go this route).

At the same time that LinkedIn launched its new tool for students, it’s also done away with the rest of its student-centric capabilities. Maybe this new endeavor will forever end the traditional post-college job-seeking angst.

For more insight on hiring millennials and integrating them into your multi-generational workforce, see our panel of experts discussing Managing Your Talent Ecosystem: Best Practices.

Danielle Beurteaux

About Danielle Beurteaux

Danielle Beurteaux is a New York–based writer who covers business, technology, and philanthropy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times and on Popular Mechanics, CNN, and Institutional Investor's Alpha, among other outlets.