LinkedIn for Developers?

LinkedIn is almost impossible to ignore – it’s so big and so widely used in every circle, market, and industry that it’s essentially everywhere. And even more so with LinkedIn being acquired by Microsoft for an ungodly amount ($26B) it’s gotten as much attention that any company could ever ask (or pay) for.

But if you’re a technical (i.e. software engineer) person like me then you might have a bit of a love-hate relationship with LinkedIn and every time you see it you may even cringe a little (at least on the inside). It’s not that the network is completely without value, it’s just that it’s not all that entirely useful for software developers, engineers, and the more technically-inclined.

And that’s not a harsh critique either since the tool, itself, just doesn’t have features that directly cater or serve a technical end-user; it just wasn’t built for many of us and it doesn’t naturally highlight the things that we really care about.

So, it’s not a surprise that many of us have done just fine without a LinkedIn profile (or at least a comprehensive or fully filled-out one) in terms of our careers and job opportunities.

But, I bet that you have felt the social pressure to fill it out completely once or twice – I know I have!

Nope.
Nope.

Plainly spoken, LinkedIn is not the best place for technical folks to find and explore new opportunities and jobs and is especially inefficient in terms of recruitment. It’s the reason why many of us have turned off our notifications for LinkedIn’s internal communication tool and even marked LinkedIn-related emails as spam (I know that I have).

In fact, a good portion of portion of engineers and software developers either “tolerate” or outright “hate” LinkedIn recruiting and messaging (via Stack Overflow):

When many recruiters think of where to perform their outreach, they immediately consider LinkedIn. However, 22% of developers we surveyed don’t even have a LinkedIn account. So if you’re a recruiter or hiring manager focusing solely on that one social network, you’re missing out on a huge pool of developer talent. To be a successful recruiter, you need to go where the candidates are.

As technicians we know that there are far better tools, social networks, and platforms that can highlight the real work that we do and that can create the right signals and messaging, both qualitative and quantitative, that can best represent our skills and experiences.

And, in addition, tools like LinkedIn can confuse and even misrepresent us when it comes to understanding the true depth and breath of our experience. Consequently, we know that LinkedIn just doesn’t cut it it for developers, pragmatically-speaking.

So, what is a developer to do?

via Stack Overflow
via Stack Overflow

At this point in the blog post it would be a natural segue for me to start positing that what I’m putting together is the “solution” or at least a salve for the technical person’s issue with LinkedIn (or at least a possible alternative).

But, I won’t… and I’m not, at least directly.

This is firstly because I’m not done building the initial concept / prototype and I haven’t gotten near-enough feedback yet; but it’s growing through 1:1 interviews and even public surveys (please take this one here).

I’m writing this post mostly because there has been a lot of feedback and questions during my interviews (and via Twitter, email, etc…) that have asked me, in one way or another, if I’m building a “LinkedIn for Developers” – the quick and easy answer is “no” but I can imagine a world where what I am putting together can create immense value for the individual and their developing technical career.

What I’m building is a system that showcases the technical work that is actually done and that surfaces and provides intelligence around that work. Now, could that information be used to qualify and hire specific talent for specific jobs and specific types of technical work? Absolutely-freakin-lutely.

Could recruiters or hiring managers walk through the data that is being surfaced and understand, intimately, the real technical background that an engineer has and even begin to understand some of their proclivities, behavioral preferences, and personal bias and predispositions to technology, stacks, and tooling? Yes, yes, and more yes.

I’ll be honest – it’s really exciting to think about if you give it enough time.

Essentially, what LinkedIn natively lacks is a real, unbiased, and honest look at the work that an engineer has done and an ability to communicate technical value without marketing copy or profile peacocking.

If “Project Pinpoint” can provide a healthy and exceedingly useful alternative to LinkedIn without making the developer do much more additional work… then I think we have a winner.

This is one of the many questions I’m asking and things that I’m interested in solving. And, if you’d like to help, I’d love it. Ping me directly on Twitter, fill out this survey, or even email me – I’d love to chat.


Also published on Medium.

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