LinkedIn Surpasses Half a Billion Members, Gives Glimpse Into its Future

LinkedIn is now 500 million members strong, according to a corporate blog post. I remember when job boards used to brag about having 1 million resumes, so the professional network that isn’t quite 15 years old should be commended for the milestone.

Granted, it’s not all barfing rainbows and prancing unicorns. There are reports out there that say only 1-in-4 members actually log in each month, for example, although that trend may be reversing as content consumption has increased 21 percent in recent years.

Warts aside, LinkedIn has incredible value. It’s the only major social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds, according to Pew. More Pew goodness: 32 percent of employed adults are LinkedIn users, compared with 14 percent of online adults who are not employed.

Oh, and don’t forget Microsoft thought enough of LinkedIn to pay $26.2 billion for the company last year, likely outbidding competitors such as Salesforce and Google.

In short, a professional community of this size has never existed until now. There are over 10 million open jobs, users have access to more than 9 million companies, and can read more than 100,000 articles published every week. The impact on recruiting is undeniable, with users in the space averaging 702 contacts each, the most in any industry.

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So now that the company enjoys the economies of scale and the deep pockets of its sugar daddy in Redmond, what’s next? Recent announcements give us a clue.

  • Redesign. The company’s desktop site got a paint job in January, proclaiming it had reduced the clutter, made it more intuitive, and more focused to help users connect to the people and information that matter most.
  • Content curation. Through its Trending Storylines, LinkedIn added interest-based feeds to surface developing stories to help users discover and discuss news, ideas, and diverse perspectives.
  • Enhanced advertising on mobile. It’s an example of playing catch-up with Facebook, but LinkedIn added lead generation ads for mobile earlier this month.
  • Laying the smackdown. Cease-and-desist letters are going out to protect LinkedIn’s bread-and-butter, shutting down small players like Nymeria. The company also updated its terms to say they prohibit both the act of scraping others’ content from their services, and the development and support of tools to scrape LinkedIn services.
  • Integration into Microsoft products and services. More and more LinkedIn is becoming a kind of lead generation and recruitment engine for Microsoft’s enterprise products. Tip of the iceberg, for sure.

There’s more, but you get the idea. This isn’t your dad’s LinkedIn anymore. The site moving past the 500 million user mark and getting acquired by Microsoft represents an evolution in the recruiting space. We’re moving past the skirmishes of job boards past, and moving into Clash of the Titans, featuring web behemoths like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook. Get your popcorn.

Joel Cheesman has over 20 years experience in the online recruitment space. He worked for both international and local job boards in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. In 2005, Cheesman founded HRSEO, a search engine marketing company for HR, as well as launching an award-winning industry blog called Cheezhead. He has been featured in Fast Company and US News and World Report. He sold his company in 2009 to Jobing.com. He was employed by EmployeeScreenIQ, a background check company. He is the founder of Ratedly, an app that monitors anonymous employee reviews. He is married and the father of three children. He lives in Indianapolis.

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