It’s job hunting season so I finally decided to take up LinkedIn’s offer of a free month of their ‘premium job-seeker service‘. There’s not much different about it to notice but there is this: for every job position LinkedIn advertises it offers and assessment of your chances of getting the job, like this one:
You can imagine how they come up with this assessment: your qualifications, experience, keywords that match between your profile and the job ad crunched together, generating a score that ranks you against those who have already applied. To me this process seems folly. And arguably irresponsible.
For one thing, LinkedIn is seldom the only way to apply for jobs, but only its applicants are analysed. That’s selection bias right there. For another, there is apparently no consideration of the immigration status required for each role, a factor which is incredibly important, if not determinative. This says to me the algorithm isn’t especially well thought through.
But mostly I’m just skeptical that candidates can be effectively ranked by LinkedIn (and on a related note I really hope that’s not a service LinkedIn is peddling to employers). You need a lot of assumptions, like how an individual employer values academic qualification, even though that plainly varies greatly, even within a single industry. You have to assume that a job description is an accurate representation of what an employer wants, and it’s often just a cut and pasted jumble. When they see a particular candidate they might rethink or realise they’d written the first JD wrong.
Then even if all your assumptions are right, or right enough, I still like to think there are things a candidate can convey in an application, like their motivations and values, that are important, and aren’t sitting in plain sight on their LinkedIn profile.
Look, I know big data can be incredibly powerful. The much cited example of Walmart predicting when its shoppers are pregnant is an excellent case in point. And maybe my skepticism is just naivete dressed as understanding. But I for one will be taking no real heed of LinkedIn’s assessments of my job prospects. I might be inclined to browse the “get more insights” section that shows me characteristics of other candidates (pictured above) so I can play up comparative advantages. But I won’t shy from applying from applications where LInkedIn says I haven’t a shot.
My concern is that if job seekers buy into LinkedIn’s assessments more than I do, it may well be encouraging the wrong candidates to make applications. That wastes candidates time and messes with employers’ chance of getting who they need. Applier beware.