As I wrote in an earlier post, I’m kind of new to this whole recruiting thing. In my six months or so in this business, I’ve learned a LOT. Mostly?

That you CANNOT learn recruiting. You absorb it. But that hasn’t stopped me from trying to pick up as much about how recruiting works as possible, and I think I’m starting to wrap my brain around how recruiters help connect people with jobs and companies.

I know it’s simple stuff, but I think I finally figured out what someone does when they’re “sourcing,” say, or what the hell an “applicant tracking system” does – or at least, what they’re supposed to do, judging from all the nasty things people in the recruiting community seem to be saying about theirs.

No one, it seems, really likes these HR Technologies, which is kind of funny, since tools and technology seem to dominate so much of the talk about recruiting and hiring “best practices” (still no clue what that phrase means, by the way – or what a “maturity model” is supposed to be, for that matter).

I’m Mad As Hell, And I’m Not Going To Take This Anymore.

I get why recruiters hate these systems – I’ve only used them when applying as a job seeker myself, and all I can say is, “I get it.” If my personal experience with most companies’ application processes are any indication, all I can say is, “I’m sorry.” Having to actually, like, rely on those things to do your job has to be pretty awful.

I totally understand how that’s gotta be even more frustrating when you’re on the other side of the desk – and trust me, applying for a job is hard enough on those systems when you’re just trying to apply for a job. I can only imagine what it must be like to have to manage all those applications throughout the sourcing, screening and selection process – let’s just say it does not sound like anybody’s idea of a good time.

I have learned that there is an exception to this rule, however – there’s one tool out there that recruiters can’t seem to get enough of. This tool comes up in pretty much every talent acquisition conversation as one that’s both indispensable to recruiters today and one deeply entrenched in almost every part of the hiring process at almost every company.

I know that this probably sounds silly to most of you out there, but after reading dozens of blog posts, sitting through countless webinars and talking to as many people in the recruiting community as possible, I still have one little question about what seems at times to be the biggest deal in talent today: what the hell is so great about LinkedIn, anyway? More importantly, what the hell is the point of this platform in the first place?

So, I don’t GET LinkedIn. I’ll admit it. Now, don’t think I’m like totally oblivious – obviously I know what it is, and how recruiters use it. I just don’t GET IT. As I’ve made clear, I’m still pretty new to this whole world of recruiting, but I still can’t figure out what’s the big damn deal with LinkedIn. Now, I’ve noticed that recruiters seem to either love LinkedIn or hate it. No happy medium here, folks.

“I Just Ran Out of Bullshit. Am I Still On The Air?”

The thing all recruiters seem to agree on, though, is that love it or hate it, you’re pretty much forced to use it. I’m glad that for people outside of recruiting, LinkedIn can live on the periphery of social media somewhere between Pinterest and Foursquare, one of those networks that’s just not that big of a deal to most people.

Maybe when you’re looking for a job, but otherwise? There are way more fun things to do on the internet than read people’s posts about their company news or updates about how awesome their jobs are (and, worst of all, those “we’re hiring!” posts that never even remotely describe anyone you actually know).

I suppose someday, I might come around and learn to embrace LinkedIn, but they sure don’t make it easy. I remember when Facebook first rolled out – it was warm, inviting, intuitive and somewhere you and your friends actually wanted to spend time.

I remember feeling SO special that my .edu address got me early access to an account so that I could be a part of what was, at the time, a pretty exclusive club – no HR ladies, recruiters or cheesy B2B marketing allowed.

Facebook was just you, your friends, and a closed community that, for a while, more or less mimicked reality, instead of reshaping and reinventing that reality, as is so common on the site today. For those of you not old enough (or too old) to remember when the coolest cell phone out there as a Motorola Razr or when “Snake” represented the bleeding edge of mobile gaming, you might not remember.

But for several glorious years, Facebook used to be off limits to anyone who wasn’t enrolled in a college or university, requiring an active edu email address from one of a core list of pre-approved schools to get past that velvet rope and into the site everybody wanted to be a part of.

And, for a while, I was one of the lucky ones who got to use the site before they opened up access to the marketers, spammers and distant relatives that quickly ruined a lot of what used to make the site so special. See, Mom? That OG Facebook account and years of early access were totally worth all the money you spent on tuition. Hey, I learned a whole hell of a lot, at least.

I remember the first time I logged onto Facebook being absolutely terrified. I remember having to remember to put up an away message on my AIM every time I wanted to fill in my friends on what I was doing and where I was going; I had just gotten the hang of chat rooms and forums; and I had just picked my top 8 friends on MySpace. Now, even though it was considered far cooler than any of these ratchet ass options, I still had to learn a NEW way to make myself seem cool on the internet. Ugh.

Facebook, of course, blows up and takes over the world. I am OK with this – it’s easy to use, I get how it works, and I actually kind of start “liking” social media for a hot minute. Everyone’s on there, and it’s all good. But then, out of nowhere, LinkedIn peeks its forehead over the fence like Wilson on Home Improvement: hidden mostly from view, but always there creeping in the shadows.

It’s like the coworker no one likes inviting you to get together outside the office. You don’t want to go, but you’re sick of saying no, and what’s the worst thing that could happen, you think? Make the effort and suffer the pain of pretending to care, and maybe it won’t be so bad. This is why I think so many people set up an account at the behest of their boss, their employer or simply because it’s just what professionals do these days – and promptly forget all about it (or at least until they need to find a job or make a hire, in which case, they suddenly become super users).

That’s what happened to me – I had heard that LinkedIn was like Facebook for professionals – and I hated it from the start. It even LOOKS like Facebook, or at least trying to do the best imitation it can, with a news feed, profile pics and another platform to connect with people you don’t know around status updates you mostly don’t care about.

My first thought was, “So, this is Facebook for jobs?” “I wonder if my boss or coworkers can look me up on here – creepy,” and “I guess I don’t need that stupid resume anymore, SEE?”

Needless to say, I was not hooked.

“We’ll Tell You Anything You Want to Hear…We Lie Like Hell.”

Fast forward a few years, and I still do not understand what the hell the point of LinkedIn actually is – even after using it over a longer period of time than I ever planned on spending on such a soulless “social” site – and longer, probably, than it should have been around to begin with. Here is what I don’t get. Social media is all over the place these days – we have as many options for communicating with our connections and network than there are filters on Snapchat.

I still love me some Facebook, and have even delved into Twitter, Instagram and have become a pretty avid SnapChat user these days. I spend more time on these sites than I care to admit, but they’re how I consume information and the primary way I stay in touch with my friends, family and the other people, places and stuff that I care about.

Social media is normally the first thing I check in the morning, and one of the last things I check before going to bed. There is no shame in loving social.

But as much as I love pretty much every other social network out there (OK, Swarm and Google Plus kind of suck), my animosity for LinkedIn remains. While most of my online activity is spent on social sites, you will not find a single LinkedIn bookmark on my browser, nor an app on my phone. Heck, you’d have to dig pretty deep in my search history to even find the last time I bothered logging on at all.

When I get one of the daily deluge of emails from LinkedIn: a group update, a new job, who the hell cares?! It’s like these e-mails are LinkedIn’s acknowledgment no one bothers logging onto their network in the first place, or else they wouldn’t have to send you updates on everything straight to your inbox.

When I see an email from LinkedIn, I roll my eyes and automatically click delete it quicker than messages about generic Russian Viagra or requests for bridge loans from Nigerian Princes, often with a little shudder. When will this bullshit end?, and I know the answer is, probably when I unsubscribe from email notifications. So, why do I subject myself to these spurious sends?

Great question. I’m lazy.

“If You’re Gonna Hustle, At Least Do It Right.”

I also have a job that entails dealing with a ton of people who have such a hard on for LinkedIn that I have to at least pretend to pay attention and “engage” them, even though I really just wish they’d figure out how to use Facebook, instead. C’mon, people.

Now, don’t go thinking I’m totally bashing LinkedIn – I appreciate a whole lot about it, and know that it’s effective for recruiting, hiring and whatever “personal branding” is (like I said, I’m new at all this). I get the point. I get why people use this site. I do. I just hate it.

For instance: one of my associates I don’t really keep in touch with or like all that much just got a promotion at work for some company I’ve never heard. Good for her, I’m happy she’s doing well, but I could give two craps about how she made the move from an AVP to a VP at some boring sounding bank.

But with LinkedIn, even when you give zero shits, you’re given an infinite guilt trip, with reminders prompting you to “like” that this basic bitch got a promotion, that you should endorse all her “skills” (what “skills,” I have no idea, since we don’t work together and never have) and maybe even write a reference. Yeah, right. Leave me alone, LinkedIn. I’m not giving anyone a gold star for doing their damn JOBS. Except, maybe, for the occasional recruiter who picks up the phone to call me instead of shooting me another stupid InMail to tune out.

I know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the whole goal of social media to reward and recognize basic human behavior, inflate egos and try to make life seem a little bit better through blatant misrepresentation and hyperbole? How is LinkedIn any different?”

Well, here’s the thing. I’d rather people see a picture of my dog than some “project” I was forced to do at work. I would rather you like that picture because he is cute than endorse me for some “skill” I don’t have because you feel obligated. I don’t need your professional approval, and if we’re really friends, well, then there are better networks out there.

It’s like the saying goes: “champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends.” And holy hell, it hurts so much pretending to personally give two shits about my “professional network.” After all, if I really cared about you, we’d already be friends on Facebook.


Noel Cocca

CEO/Founder RecruitingDaily and avid skier, coach and avid father of two trying to keep up with my altruistic wife. Producing at the sweet spot talent acquisition to create great content for the living breathing human beings in recruiting and hiring. I try to ease the biggest to smallest problems from start-ups to enterprise. Founder of RecruitingDaily and our merry band of rabble-rousers.