LinkedIn Apply: going for a job has just gotten easier

A few months ago I learned about LinkedIn launching some really useful new tools, as part of its mission to become a business-critical tool. Yesterday, LinkedIn continued down this path by launching a button that lets users apply for jobs.

The Apply with LinkedIn button makes it easy for people to apply for jobs. These are the key steps involved:

  1. Companies embed the button on their websites – Like the Twitter “tweet” button or the Facebook “Like” button, companies can quite easily embed the LinkedIn “Apply” button on their sites.
  2. Submit your LinkedIn profile – With this button you’ll no longer need to submit a cover letter or a resume,  just your LinkedIn profile will suffice.
  3. Interact with your connections – Once you’ve submitted your job application through the “Apply with LinkedIn” button, you can message your contacts at the company in question and ask for a referral.
  4. Help with referrals – In case you don’t have any contacts at the respective company, LinkedIn will show the people that you do know and who can introduce you at somebody at the company.
  5. Keep track of your job applications – All your “Apply with LinkedIn” submissions will be saved so that you have a record of all the jobs you’ve applied for through LinkedIn.

The “Apply with LinkedIn” button looks like it will make life easier for both job applicants and for companies hiring. The tool will help businesses in screening candidates and it seems to be an easy one to integrate and customise. Netflix, Tripit and Photobucket are the first companies that will be using the button.

Job applicants should be feeling pleased too. Forget about constantly having to update your CV, the “Apply with LinkedIn” button will enable you to preview and update your profile in real-time. In addition, applicants can now personalise their submissions by adding personal contacts they know at a company.

Main learning point: since its IPO last May, LinkedIn has been on a bit of a roll in releasing valuable products and features. The new “Apply with LinkedIn” button is another good example of a compelling feature that promises to deliver value to both job applicants and companies looking to hire. It might take time but I can see a tool like “Apply with LinkedIn” eventually replacing the classic CV; it’s easy to use and applicants will be able to personalise their submissions.

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Finance is going social

This week wasn’t only about the IPO of LinkedIn and people fearing another dotcom bubble. It was also about Derwent Capital getting the green light for its social media based hedge fund from the FSA, the regulator of financial services in the UK. A first of its kind, the fund will monitor threads on Twitter to feel out marketing sentiment before placing its bets.

Another good example of a financial business ‘going social’ is CMC Markets, which is looking to soon release “a Facebook for traders”. This will be a trading application with the aim of building trading communities as a forum to discuss trading strategies. CMC feels that this platform could be particularly beneficial to new traders, who will be able to plug into a large community of traders. This isn’t a completely original idea though: platforms like Covestor already provide their user communities with easy access to professional investors, whose investments they can mirror.

These are the main things I learned from these social moves by financial institutions:

  1. This is quite a drastic break from traditional investment methods – Even though I don’t think for a minute that complicated financial models are going to disappear, these moves show that public sentiment (Twitter) and easily accessible expertise (CMC, Covestor) are credible investment resources for investors to dip into.
  2. Increase use of social media to make trading decisions – There is a trend involving a growing number of people referring to social media or expert communities for advice on their trading decisions.
  3. Social media provide a handy format! – Twitter and Facebook are in a way geared towards providing users with bite-size snippets of useful investments. This is an area where the more traditional investment methods are definitely lacking

Main learning point: it’s fair to say that the financial world has discovered the potential business opportunities that social media has to offer. Community based trading platforms I can see working (and are clearly proving to be a success) because they enable traders to get access to expertise they would otherwise have to pay substantial fees for. Using Twitter and Facebook to predict market sentiment, however, I’m less sure of. Isn’t it risky to use, often fickle and impulsive, Twitter and Facebook sentiments as a starting point for financial investments?

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Snaptu gets snapped up by Facebook

Last Sunday, London based mobile developer Snaptu confirmed that it had been acquired by Facebook in a $60-$70m deal. Looking into this, I learned that this move is all about Facebook wanting to expand its presence and usage across a number of mobile platforms.

Snaptu specialises in online solutions for mobile phones (particularly for “feature” phones, i.e. non smartphones). On it’s blog Snaptu explains that:

“Earlier this year, we announced the launch of a new Facebook mobile application to give people a great mobile experience on a broad range of feature phones. The Facebook for Feature Phones app currently works on more than 2,500 devices.

We soon decided that working as part of the Facebook team offered the best opportunity to keep accelerating the pace of our product development. And joining Facebook means we can make an even bigger impact on the world.”

I learned the following from this particular deal:

  1. Facebook is really concentrating on mobile – Recent acquisitions of Rela8tion (mobile advertising), Beluga (group messaging service) and now Snaptu clearly indicate that mobile holds (an important part of) the future for Facebook.
  2. It’s not all about smartphones! – Even though the focus predominantly tends be on smartphones, companies like Snaptu are leading the way in developing interactive, online services for feature phones. In addition to working with Facebook, Snaptu is going to create a mobile platform for professional social networking service LinkedIn.

Main learning point: in its ongoing quest to be successful on all platforms, Facebook seems to have made another important move. Mobile devices and location-based services/marketing is where the future is and Facebook is striding forcefully into that direction, making sure not to miss out on things to come.

Related links for further learning:

Becoming a business-critical tool: LinkedIn’s next steps

It has been quite a week for LinkedIn. First it introduced two cool innovations as a result from their monthly developer ‘hackdays’ and it then announced an IPO, to take place later this year.

To start off with the innovative part; I learned about “InMaps” and “Swarm”, two interactive ideas that aim to do more with all the user data generated through LinkedIn.

LinkedIn’s new InMaps is an experimental project which visualizes the connections within your network. LinkedIn filters through my connections and both identifies them (e.g. into key influencers) and groups them (into specific sectors) for me. When I look at my own example it’s interesting to see how my professional networks are neatly clustered along the lines of friends, people related to my current job and fellow-students who I did my MBA with. I can then label these clusters accordingly.

Another recent experiment by LinkedIn is Swarm. This is an interactive tag cloud displaying the most searched companies and terms on LinkedIn. For instance, Dell and Deutsche Bank are amongst today’s most searched companies. Rather than it being a fairly static tag cloud, this one ‘swarms’ around, displaying the most recent searches and content items.

Interesting to see all these new experiments cropping up in the same week that LinkedIn announced its intention to raise as much as $175m from an initial public offering.

Just to summarise the key things I’ve learned about LinkedIn:

  1. It’s looking at ways to make the best use of rich datasets – Senior LinkedIn execs increasingly feel that LinkedIn has thus far only scraped the surface in terms of target audience and the use of the user insights and data available to LinkedIn.
  2. It wants to become a business-critical tool – In line with the previous learning point, LinkedIn have embarked on a mission to become an integral part of any professional’s day. New functionality like LinkedIn Signal and InMaps are definitely useful tools in this respect.
  3. With an upcoming IPO, the goalposts are shifting – The proposed IPO should really help LinkedIn in both growing its audience as well as in converting a large number of currently non-paying members into users who are willing to pay for LinkedIn products on an ongoing basis.

Main learning point: it’s fair to say that there are lots of social media based technologies and sites out there but LinkedIn arguably has a lot of potential to become a long lasting success, serving a designated target market with a range of clearly defined needs. It will be interesting to see how experiments like InMaps and Swarm will be converted into products that will be used widely (and potentially paid for) by LinkedIn users.

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HoverMe adds social context to the people you follow

I’m pretty sure there must be quite a few people out there who find it a pain to have to look at other people’s profiles in a separate places like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Wouldn’t it be neat if there was a functionality to connect the various social profiles of each individual user?

HoverMe is a new browser add-on that enables users to see the social web profile of their friends, simply by hovering over the name of the person in your Twitter feed. The HoverMe profile provides links links to the person’s other profiles on sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Delicious.

There’s one aspect of However that stands out for me:

  1. It’s all about “contextual social information” – HoverMe adds contextual social information about who you follow. Users will be able to get a much more ‘rounded picture‘ by seeing their friends‘ info and activities through a range of different social profiles.

I feel that this is very strong feature of HoverMe, it makes it very easy to jump straight into someone’s profiles on a whole host of sites. However, there are some limitations to the current version of HoverMe which I hope will be addressed in the forseeable future; it only works in (the latest version) of Twitter and not in any of the other key sites such as Facebook or Delicious.

Main learning point: HoverMe is a very useful browser plug-in that will provide user with a lot of context and additional information about the people they are following on Twitter. Having only launched last week, I really hope that HoverMe will eventually also become available in popular sites such as Facebook and Delicious.

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