LinkedIn has claimed a spot among professionals in Canada and around the world as a key place to connect with colleagues, and scout out the employment landscape. Many employers also use it as a recruiting tool. In 2011, the company conducted an extraordinarily successful public offering at $45 (U.S.) a share; it now trades at over $230. Brian Church heads the Canadian operation, which is one of the most successful of the company's many international arms.
Has LinkedIn changed the way job searching and recruitment works?
LinkedIn has moved recruitment from a back-office process to the boardroom. Leaders agree that talent is the No. 1 asset for their long-term success and innovation in their company. But in the past it was difficult to identify, understand and engage with candidates, because a large portion of the top talent – 80 per cent – is not actively looking for a job. But potentially, the best talent is in that 80 per cent. Companies were not able to get to them prior to LinkedIn.
So if people were not sending out résumés, nobody knew they existed?
That's right. You could ask somebody [about possible candidates] but you couldn't do it at scale. How could you know who the best leader in Asia is, if you were opening there?
The talent themselves have also benefited. Their expectations are much higher today than ever before. They want to identify opportunities that match their skills and passions. They also want to understand the companies that they are potentially going to work for. And [they might want to] have a conversation with some of these people, before they make a decision.
Has LinkedIn increased job turnover?
I don't think so. Job changes are occurring more frequently now, just as a general part of the culture. If we can help people find the right opportunities, they may stay [in the job] longer. At a massive scale, we could actually impact Canada's GDP by making companies more successful, and by moving the talent to the right spot.
Is LinkedIn a social network, like Facebook and Twitter, or something entirely different?
It is inherently different. People see their social and personal life differently from their professional life. They engage with those people, in those circles, differently. They separate their professional and their personal world.
Our focus is specifically on the professional world, and helping people become more productive and successful in that world, and in engaging their professional networks. LinkedIn also helps manage your brand in that world, which is very different than the social world.
What do people use LinkedIn for, besides finding jobs?
Eighty per cent of the people are not looking for a job. They are looking at how to manage their contact base, and how to build their professional brand. They want to connect with people and be more successful at what they are doing. It is about managing your whole professional experience.
Are some people reluctant to expose their personal information on LinkedIn?
In the early days, that was probably true. I find it less the case now. You control this environment. This is your space to control the brand that you want the world to perceive of you. It is your decision how much you want to expose and your comfort level. Some people do just a little bit. Some provide a very robust amount of information on the site.
How does Canadian membership in LinkedIn compare to other countries?
Today we have over eight million members in Canada. That puts us in the top five on LinkedIn with Brazil, the United States, Britain, and India. Those are pretty big countries.
How many members are there worldwide?
Just over 230 million.
I've heard people question the feature where members "endorse" the skills of others. What is the value of that?
The endorsements were created to provide additional information for placing talent. It provides greater data for the algorithms that we run in the background.
The data will ultimately be very powerful in helping companies and individuals find the right opportunities.
What does the Canadian arm of LinkedIn do?
We have over 100 people here. It is primarily a sales organization. Our engineering folks are centralized in California, so that is not something that we do in Canada.
How will the company change and improve the system in the coming years?
We are focusing on the mobile world. The mobile experience is being asked for by most people across the world, so you will see a lot more on that.
Another area that you will see us spending more energy and time on, is the university and college market space. [We want to focus on] the newest entrants into the work force, and help guide them through their careers.
We have also recently released a number of things to make profiles more rich – adding pictures and presentations to transform your profile into a portfolio.
So a graphic designer could have a mini-portfolio in LinkedIn?
That's right. A sales professional could put one of their presentations up there, so people could look at it. Leaders can put up some of their videos, addressing the network on their thoughts and views.
Title Country manager, LinkedIn Canada
Personal Born in Montreal; 41 years old
Education Marketing degree from York University
Regional sales manager for Oracle, from 1998 to 2003.
Senior account executive at software company SAP from 2005 to 2009.
Enterprise sales manager at Google Canada from 2009 to 2010.
Joined LinkedIn in 2010, becoming country manager for Canada in June, 2011.