LinkedIn always was a tool filled with bugs and unexpected behavior. Sometimes these errors were making work really hard, sometimes just annoying and sometimes even useful. These changes often meant something is being altered in the background – like the messaging bugs leading to the “new messaging experience”. Lately I am experiencing more and more problems. In this post I attempt to oversee what errors I recently faced and what changes they might be foreshadowing. To round up the picture I am of course including some other recent LinkedIn developments as well.
1. Limited length for the search string
It has been well publicized how Boolean search has changed. I absolutely agree with that – on Google (and when you are searching sites via Google (X-ray). When you are using ATS-es and CV databases (which I hope you do!) then to reach the best results it is still critical to consider the synonyms, abbreviations, other ways to say the same experience, versions in other language, etc.
On search engines where an asterisk is not supported (khm, LinkedIn) this can result in long strings. Length is not a necessity nor an indicator of how good the search string is, but there are positions when it happens.
So it was incredibly frustrating when in November and December 2015 I have encountered instances when you had “0” results in your searches which should have brought in thousands. A couple hours later or the next day the very same search was working like a charm. After multiple such reports by me and my colleagues the comparison of strings where LinkedIn erred resulted in one thing: they were all longer than ~15 keywords (which is not particularly much, even Google is supporting up to 32 keywords). Taking out some keywords which should have enlarged the pool and putting it below 15 keywords, the searches brought results.
Combining this with the appearance of the filter this might mean two things.
- LinkedIn was simply perfecting the filter or implemented a bug together with this feature
- They are working on a new way of searching, most likely some form of semantic search
2. NOT is either working or NOT
While this is definitely not a new bug, I think the fact that it has been not fixed for so many years supports the notion that they may want to use a new type of search altogether.
In short, whenever you have a bracket or a keyword you do not want to be in your results, you add it with a NOT (or -) and expect LinkedIn to show you results where those are not presents. A fair expectation, but one that is not always fulfilled.
What I noticed is that you have more chance to make the operator work if you use the “-” version of it (in this case no space is needed), and if it’s in the beginning of the search field (preferably this is the only bracket you have in that field).
3. Notifications you cannot get rid of
I guess I am the dream of software ergonomists, because red notifications really tick me off. If I see one I want to get rid of it. LinkedIn begs to disagree with me and I have a couple messages which no matter how many times I read, always revert back to unRED. Before, I had the same with invites, but after accepting the same 3 invites 1000 times over the course of 4 years, I finally did manage to connect with those people. Hurray!
This “fixing” happened in the same week when I received the new message experience so I definitely think it’s connected. But what does the recent reappearance of the issue mean? The functionality is being kept working on? I hope so…
4. Magically appearing profile parts
In January I had a meeting with an old university acquaintance and he politely congratulated for my endurance of following up the Economic degree we pursued together with an IT degree. This definitely would be a nice feat, but one I sadly did not even attempt so I asked him where did he got this from. Turned out he checked me out on LinkedIn before the meeting. Showed me on his mobile, and there it was, on my profile I had the degree and an array certifications I will probably never have.
At the time I thought I must have kept myself logged in somewhere and someone was being funny – but when I got home, I did not see any of those details anymore. I asked my friend to revisit the profile, he did not see them anymore and the revision history was empty. Since I brought the topic up in discussions I heard about similar appearing profile parts as well.
The fact that this happened specifically with my education and certifications field, makes me think this is connected to…
5. Lynda and Connectifier acquisitions
With all the data LinkedIn has, for me it comes as a big surprise that since the core idea of LinkedIn no major, industry shaking addition has been made to the basic concept. Lynda just might be a beginning of this. Companies are looking for skills. People are looking for employment where they will hone their skills further and become more valuable. LinkedIn has the data to see where the gaps are, and if there is a gap, there is money in bridging it. So far there have been some small changes on LinkedIn thanks to this (click on a skill and it takes you here) but that and a 30 day free trial to everyone is not worth 1,5 Billion.
A case on probably much more straightforward is the acquisition of Connectifier. Connectifier is (was) the type of social trace lookup tool which is a must-use. We have these tools since years, but the name of them always changes (Rapportive, Falcon, Vibe, Riffle, 360.me, mon.ki, 6Connect, Prophet to name a few which work or have worked). They rise and die fast, but using a couple really speeds up finding more information about your candidate. Connectifier was arguably the best, with E-mails and phone numbers also reliably popping up. Instead of fighting these hacks, why not include them as service? Especially because…
6. LinkedIn shares are dipping
and this means they need to sell more, more and some more. Sell the same services to more people, sell new services to the same people and generally monetize what has not been monetized before.
By all means, LinkedIn is a very profitable company. The issue is that the investors think with the sort of monopoly LinkedIn has, it should be even more profitable. While the basic of these expectations is rather interesting (there are no really fitting comparisons), they do drive the share prices. This is nothing new, seemingly fiscal report after fiscal report the story repeats itself. The pressure for LinkedIn to change is certainly there – and that means, for the better or worse, changes are about to happen. The only real question is the internal development priority order between search, engagement, product range and sales model.
What do you think about LinkedIn’s future? Have you seen any other bug or found a reliable way to solve any of the above? Let me know in comments!
+1 (Update 15/02/2016): misleading country specific LinkedIn domains
As Tom Drabik brought to my attention in a comment in the Secret Sourcing Facebook group, in some countries while X-raying LinkedIn the results are coming from random locations instead of the one specified with the site:countrydomaincode.linkedin.com operator. Notable such country is Poland, where even a simple search will result in people from random locations all over the world. In the snippet, the domain is clearly listed as pl.linkedin, but after clicking on the link the URL changes.
To make it more interesting, other countries such as UK, Germany, Spain or Hungary seem to work as usual. Is this a test to make sure LinkedIn will be only searchable via LinkedIn? Combine this with the commercial limit and the financial situation outlined in the article and I think you have a feeling what the answer is.