CFO asks CEO: « What happens if
we invest in recruiting our people
& then they leave us? »
CEO: ‘What happens if we don’t, and they stay? »


Inspired from a famous quote widespread through Linkedin which initially intended to highlight the importance of personnel development, the adapted quote can only reflect the same concern about investing in people. And although the CFO title is not commonly used in the EU Brussels Bubble, many Heads of Administration have a strong interest in the financial health of their businesses (how can we maximise our RoI ?) or organisations (highly contingent on their membership fees, on their company’s annual PR/PA budget or even susceptible to Grants Audits).        

In this context, a variety of an organisation’s personnel can be called to play the Headhunter on Linkedin, the first professional social network with its recently-achieved 300 million suscribers (April 2014). And as Marc Andreesen (American IT Multi-entrepreneur) claimed about his own sector – the software industry will eat up every industry within the next 10 years – a handful of people wish Bon appétit! to Jeff Weiner, whose revolutionary project is said to be eating the Recruitment Industry.

LinkedIn is an immediate interface - Have you seen an « About us » tab ? - and is ironically enough described by a number of sources as a Service - Should we instead read Consumable ? - whilst Recruitment is depicted as an Industry - as opposed to a Service ?. Revolutionary ? The revolutionary aspects lie in the reshaping of a classic jobboard into a more accessible, enjoyable and professionally distinguishing matrix (Where are the blue-collar workers gone ? How many persona are created ?).

LinkedIn is offering very interesting opportunities to people – to a number of them at least. But the day that will see its logarithms-dependent structure replace Recruiters will also see Artificial Intelligence substitute Police, Air Traffic Controllers, Medical Doctors and even Entrepreneurs through statistical identification of business opportunities. The reality is – still – a bit different, demonstrating a real complementarity and coexistence between Professional Social Networks and Recruiters, who are after all their first consumers and without whom, commentators recognize, Linkedin’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) would never have been possible.

« CEO : We need to find someone, we need to find someone pretty quick. The new project is only in 4 weeks.

HR : Shall we start talking to a headhunter then ?
CEO : Why don’t you just have a look at Linkedin ? »

Have you ever found a good article on the internet, with a really engaging headline that entices you to read further ? It looks punchy, well argued and offers a wealth of fresh ideas, and makes well balanced arguments that could become a source of inspiration. The author is pretty reknowned in his own field, recognised as a Guru in his own area and regularly quoted by his peers in their own papers. Just a click and the anticipation waines : you need to get a subscription to be able to read beyond the first two lines. Welcome to Linkedin.
Choice is obviously proposed. Plenty of it. But let’s just play with a few figures. How connected are you ? You have 500+ connections ? Good start. Let’s say Mike has 1000 connections. Therefore, including his 1st, 2nd and 3rd level connections, his network is 8,000,000 people. How many of them can Mike actually see ? 1000 1st level connections plus 92,000 2nd level connections, and that’s it ! This means that there are actually 7, 907,000 profiles that are part of his network that Mike cannot see.
Furthermore, Linkedin is wonderful but globally disparate. It is certainly not representative of the whole sector/niche of European Affairs : not everybody wants to be visible on the radar and if these people do have a profile, they might just hold back their last career update until they can fully reveal it on the web. On top of that, a recent study (2013) undertaken by one of the Internet Giants showed that only 15% of the management of leading organisations are on Linkedin. Quoting one of these leaders, « you don’t need Linkedin when you know almost everybody in town ».
At some level Linkedin is offering too much choice, choice you cannot always see although you know it is there. At another level, Linkedin is avoided, seemingly because it could be an indicator that you don’t know the people on the ground. On the other hand, other employers will hardly catch you redhanded on Linkedin having a coffee with one of their top staff ; unless they monitor who connects with them… But this raises another question, the question of Privacy on « Public Space ».