LinkedIn has always served a very specific purpose in the business community: helping you find a new job. That utility came in a variety of flavors: posting your resume, looking through job listings, answering questions in hopes of highlighting your intellect, or getting in touch with former co-workers in hopes of landing a new gig. Up to this point, LinkedIn has remained focused but - apart from those invitations to connect - not especially social or dynamic.
With the launch of the LinkedIn Applications platform, they're hoping to change that by helping "over 30 million professionals on LinkedIn to communicate, collaborate, and share information even better than before." But they still remain focused on one thing: helping you find a new job.
The initial applications on the platform allow users to build a more dynamic and cohesive picture of the types of employees they are - or can be:
Today's launch features nine resume-enriching applications:
- Prove you're more well-read than any of the other candidates with Reading Lists from Amazon.
- Share your portfolio pieces with potential employers or store that coveted letter of resignation with the file sharing of Box.net Files.
- Put that girth of presentation material on your machine to work for you with Google Presentation and SlideShare or use the apps to take a "creative" approach to pitching a new employer.
- Huddle Workspaces? Online job interviews. 'Nuff said.
- Show off your acerbic wit and unique insights with Six Apart Blog Link (which supports a variety of blog formats) or WordPress applications that bring your latest blog posts into your profile.
- Well traveled individuals - or those who are willing to go where the company tells them to go - are always in demand and with My Travel by Tripit you'll be able to show the lengths - literally - to which you're willing to go.
- LinkedIn even offers their own application - Company Buzz - that will help you determine the most appropriate companies for your to pursue.
The Facebook Elephant in the Room
Bring up LinkedIn and comparisons to Facebook quickly follow. Now that applications have entered the picture, that comparison becomes even more obvious.
So how do the two stack up?
ReadWriteWeb wrote about LinkedIn and Facebook nearly two years ago, concluding:
"It seems to us that LinkedIn needs to evolve more towards the Facebook model, where people can interact more on the site via profiles. Unlike Facebook, the interactions between individuals on LinkedIn cannot be open to all - but the idea that people interact on the site is important, because this is what keeps them coming back."
Six months ago, we approached the discussion again. At that point, we found LinkedIn gaining traction. "LinkedIn's value to users is clear; their value as a business, however, is less clear."
Today, LinkedIn continues to grow by providing that selfsame value to its user base. LinkedIn's new selective application platform - unlike Facebook's "every application under the sun" strategy - only strengthens that stance.
LinkedIn Remains Focused
Don't mistake where LinkedIn is going with this new feature set.
At first blush, LinkedIn may appear to be chasing the "portal play," especially when you couple it with the recent news of their content partnership with The New York Times or when you take a look at their latest investors.
But rest assured, LinkedIn has made a very successful business out of keeping you in contact with your former co-workers and, when the time comes, helping all of you find new gigs.
No matter what the economic conditions, people will always be looking for new jobs. If LinkedIn continues to add features and applications that facilitate that inevitable searching and hiring, they're sure to succeed. And this new application platform appears to be right in line with that focus.