Before LinkedIn, job seekers were largely at the mercy of online job boards such as CareerBuilder (est. 1995) and Monster (est. 1994)—sites that ultimately became a clearinghouse for thousands upon thousands of faceless job postings and thousands upon thousands of faceless and frustrated job seekers.
By focusing on human connections instead of job descriptions, LinkedIn opened the door for something different. They flipped the entire category on its ear. The success of their recent IPO is a signal that their market segment could finally be coming into its own and that the capital markets are starting to realize there is real value in similar companies. And that's not only a good sign for their sector, but also for job seekers.
McGovern, former CEO of CareerBuilder and current CEO of Jobfox, agrees. "With online job boards, it's possible for hiring companies to receive an average of 200-300 resumes per opening. Job seekers need something better than a 1 in 300 chance." Built from the ground up to serve as a tool for recruitment and finding a job, McGovern hopes Jobfox will be a category killer.
"What makes us unique is the ability to grow your professional network without having to worry about your boss thinking you're looking for a job—unlike other sites, our networking platform of 7 million users is completely private." And they might be onto something—as of December 2010, Jobfox reports their users are 72% more likely to find a job than those who rely on job boards alone.
Although companies are now able to precisely match people with jobs and potential networking contacts thanks to the help of complex proprietary algorithms, many are still struggling to figure exactly out what to do with career changers as they don't always fit neatly into specific job categories or career buckets—something LinkedIn's platform is equipped to do better than anyone else currently on the market.
If there's one key takeaway from LinkedIn's meteoric rise, it's the continued importance of social capital and forging meaningful connections with others. After all, relationships aren't built on algorithms alone. At least not yet.
[Image: Evan Gotlib]