Business Unusual

How to get a job during an industrial revolution and the story of LinkedIn

Most in-demand skills in South Africa 2015 credit: LinkedIn

The oldest “social” network might be just the thing to get you a job ahead of a robot despite its share price crash.

The bad news is that there are more people coming into the job market than new jobs being created and the jobs that do exist are likely to be done by robots soon.

The good news is that the jobs that are left will only have a few people willing or able to do them.

Your options are whether you want to get a job relying on who you know or by getting the skills that are in-demand.

If you are a business you need to attract the kind of talent that probably does not intend to work for someone else.

Far all these cases LinkedIn hopes to be the answer.

What began in 2002 as a way to connect and share your work experience with industry contemporaries has grown into something more comprehensive whether you are looking to get noticed, finding someone for your business or looking for new business to help your business grow.

The business has grown and improved enough that LinkedIn posted it best results for last year with revenue of $2,9 billion on a network with a reported 400 million members and access to 6 million jobs. Despite that the share fell from around $190 to just above $100 after the announcement right after the results were announced.

Why?

There are a variety of related reasons but some of the significant ones are inflated expectations for tech companies based on significant growth. LinkedIn cautioned that that growth may not happen in 2016.

Tech stocks have had big valuations seemingly because they are all growth businesses in a market full of “traditional” stocks with limited scope for the same growth. But LinkedIn, that earns 40% of its revenue outside of the US, predicted a limited increase in revenue and growth for its supposed growth areas of Asia, Middle East, Europe and Africa. The news cost LinkedIn founder and Chairman Reid Hoffman over $1 billion in share value in the hours after the update on 4 February.

If you happen to not be one of the reported 400 million people on the service, here is what it does.

Your digital professional brand

Create your official professional online profile. Not one that you use only when looking for a job, but the official log of what skills and experience you have including your recent training. This is your official professional brand and whether it is on this service or anywhere else it becomes how you are assessed for hiring or, if you are working for yourself, how investors will come to decide if they will back you.

You then use that to build your network of connections. They consider three levels; those you know or work with (1st degree) those that your 1st degree connections know (2nd degree) and, finally, connections of 2nd degree connections (3rd degree). The idea is that you probably would be able to connect with almost anyone in your industry that may help you tackle a project or make the most of some opportunity.

The third element is to share knowledge to inform the network of developments or opportunities in the industry.

As a service they offer the means for you to not only find a job, but because they work with recruiters, they offer them the service to actively invite you to consider jobs that they are looking to fill.

The recruitment service is a big part of their revenue as there is generally a shortage of the skills that are most in demand and recruiters that can get good candidates to move to the companies that are willing to pay make the most money.

But companies can benefit too.

To attract top talent your company will need to have the reputation to attract that talent. How you manage that to ensure you are the employer of choice when competing with scarce skills is going to be tough and it is even more so when the best performers at tertiary level often have no intention of working for a company.

A project to list all jobs at all companies

In 2014 they embarked on an ambitious project they called the Economic Graph that would list all the global jobs at all the recognised companies, listing all the skills employed. They are also looking to list all tertiary institutions and the important developments relating to industries into the network.

From that they hope to guide the global economy to focus on the skills needed for the future rather than continue training for positions that are not longer needed.

If you consider the top 25 skills sought in South Africa (see graphic above), it would be fair to say no parent has had a conversation with their child to pursue a course that would relate to these sought-after skills, simply because few parents with tertiary-aged children would know that those skills even exist.

This is the real challenge with the next industrial revolution. How to get institutions with limited skill themselves to train students in subjects that they have had little exposure to during their schooling.

In one respect the world’s limited ability to respond to the challenges is a factor that lead to LinkedIn’s share price dropping 40% on the 4th of February. They announced a slowdown in revenue as a result of limited growth coming from their principal growth areas outside the US. The other factor is that it appears the optimism over disruptive start-up valuations of companies that listed in the last five years with impressive growth, but limited profits, are coming back into line with expectations for other traditional businesses.

For this industrial revolution to not create the kind of societal upheaval that the previous ones did will require a rapid and concerted effort to evolve education. The chances of that look slim though and so we can expect there to be a good story for some and a terrible one for many as far as employment is concerned in the future.

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