Is LinkedIn’s Referral Tool Unethical or Resourceful?

Employee referrals are quickly becoming the recruitment tool of choice, so it’s no surprise that as a leading professional networking platform, LinkedIn introduced its own perspective employee referral feature. Social recruitment is something that has and is continuing to transform the way employers are tracking down new talent, with 73% of recruiters planning to use social recruitment in their pursuit of the next hire, LinkedIn’s feature appeared to serve its purpose.

Now, this is where the debate of user privacy policies takes a serious blow at LinkedIn’s expense. The list of potential employees LinkedIn’s reference tool populates has recently come under fire for breaching its own user’s rights to be referred in the first place as well as the participation of anyone cited on the list to be in the position of making a referral. In a nut shell, LinkedIn’s feature has opened up Pandora’s Box for unsuspecting job seekers.

On one hand, the four plaintiffs do have a point but their right to cry foul is not exactly straight forward. Being considered for a job role with the help of some excellent references will boost anyone’s chances of getting a job, but what appears to have happened here is that LinkedIn have taken the standard referral practice out of these job seekers’ hands and placed it directly into the employer’s without their consent. This is very different from data mining or database hacking scandals that seem to follow online apps and platforms around like a bad smell these days; this is a by-product of a digital recruitment trend that has simply backfired.

How many of us have worked or currently do work for a company alongside colleagues that have worked with us long enough or closely enough to give us a glowing referral?

That’s what these four disgruntled job seekers are griping about.

On the other hand, if you’re going to use a platform like LinkedIn then the referral feature is more of a bonus than a bummer. As a digital recruitment innovator LinkedIn simply has introduced a feature that highlights perspective employees, making it easier for employers to gauge their suitability for a role using referrals. Has LinkedIn broken some kind of unspoken rule about company referrals here? Not quite. You see, the digital hiring landscape is designed to make taking on new staff faster which means that LinkedIn is only muscling in on a feature that only a handful of other recruitment platforms are using and a procedure that isn’t exactly unheard of offline either.

Whether you’re a referee or referring someone for a job role LinkedIn’s feature certainly cuts out the middle man and lets the employer go straight in for the metaphorical kill which would be sifting through the list of references and making a hire. That in itself is what this resourceful recruitment feature is all about. Ok, so one or two job seekers have had their feathers ruffled by it, but there is not anything truly sinister going on here a part from running the risk of getting a shady reference from someone you worked with who has an axe to grind because you borrowed one of their pens and forgot to return it.

Image source – Inc.




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