Candidate Privacy and Transparency : Flaws with LinkedIn’s “Open to New Opportunities” feature & the limitations of resumes
(Image courtesy of Rob Pongsajapan on flickr)
I have been thinking a bit about candidate privacy, transparency and control recently in the job hunting process and wanted to air my thoughts in two areas – Linkedin’s new “Open to Opportunities” feature and Candidate Resumes.
Job Search status Privacy and LinkedIn’s new feature.
LinkedIn recently launched their “Open to new opportunities” feature which is long overdue. Having a filter for recruiters who use the LinkedIn Recruiter version of the platform on their database that shows the job search status of candidates is crucial to provide extra context and limit unwanted messages from recruiters to candidates. 4 years ago we, at Glenborn, actually launched this same functionality in the form of a browser plug-in that sat on top of LinkedIn and was connected to their API. The platform was called HireSignals. Unfortunately, LinkedIn deemed it competitive and shut it down. Sour grapes aside (!), what is interesting is how privacy seems to be a complete afterthought with their “new” offering, whereas it was the central focus on our platform. As you sign up for LinkedIn’s new functionality they say they “We take steps to not show your current company that you’re open, but can’t guarantee that we can identify every recruiter affiliated with your company”. The exact implementation is explained here. Now, no system is perfect but they should allow candidates, as we did with HireSignals, to get really granular on choosing which firms (and individuals) that are blocked from seeing their status. This could be their current company, subsidiaries, parent companies (defined by the user) and any 3rd party recruiting firm that they know works with their current firm (again, defined by the user). You can see how we solved this issue at HireSignals in our youtube demo. “Loose lips sink ships” as they say and there is nothing in LinkedIn’s current implementation, except common sense and a recognition of the value of privacy, to prevent any 3rd party recruiter from exposing your job search status to your current firm. Candidates do not have control or visibility on the blocked firms or entities and 3rd party recruiters can’t be named / defined by the candidate. Most recruiters would not undermine their client’s own employees’ privacy but there are bad recruiters out there and every step should be taken to ensure this is not an issue.
As you can see by the June 18, 2012 publish date on the youtube video, we launched HireSignals with this feature set over 4 years ago. That should have left plenty of time for LinkedIn to have copied the privacy features and got it right. Other than that, the feature is as needed as it was 4 years ago so at least launching it, it is a partial step in the right direction.
Resume Privacy and Tracking
At Glenborn, when we get a resume from a candidate we don’t send it anywhere until we explicitly get an opt-in from that candidate to pursue a particular position. When we have that agreement to pursue a position, we submit the resume with a details bio via email as an attachment or upload as an attachment via an ATS like Greenhouse or Taleo or, often, both. Thereafter it is out of our control but, as our clients are good custodians of those resumes, privacy is not an issue after that point. Our process is pretty standard but there are many bad recruiters out there that partake in resume slamming – literally where they submit you for opportunities without your knowledge or buy-in, oftentimes in a spray-and-pray approach.
From a candidate perspective, we try and keep you updated on where you are in the process. Every once in a while, our client goes quiet on us and both of us are left hanging but for the most part, you get a relatively timely update on where you are in the process. With the bad recruiters above, candidates have no idea that their resumes are being shopped around without their consent until that recruiter gets a “hit” and contacts the candidate to set up a meeting. When a candidate applies direct, for a variety of reasons, it often feels like their resume has been submitted to a black hole. The lucky ones get an interview. Many others get impersonal rejections without an explanation and many others again never hear back, period.
I would welcome technology solutions to this issue – platforms that provide for more candidate transparency on the process and much like Yesware, or other email tracking tools do with email, let the candidate know when someone has opened and read your resume, forwarded it (and to whom). I have seen this approach put into good effect for sales collateral with platforms like Docsend. So why not platforms like this for resumes? It keeps everyone honest and eliminates the dangers of bad recruiters spreading your resume out there without your knowledge. It also gives Candidates and external recruiters alike a window on the latest activity around a resume / candidate profile.
It is strange that in this era of cloud computing we are still working with independent digital assets with no tracking or control. These assets are also tricky to rate or comment on when sent as an email attachment which hinders the potential for more instant feedback and transparency. Maybe there could be a blockchain solution to solve this issue although I am sure the business model for this would be very challenging as candidates don’t generally like to pay for services. Anyway, it is surely time to move on from the independent digital assets that are resumes, because for privacy and transparency purposes, they are more like liabilities that are well past their prime.