Tag Archives: LinkedIn

HiQ Labs vs LinkedIn case OKs robot monitoring of employees

HiQ Labs Inc. has built a business of scraping and analyzing public data on LinkedIn Corp., a business networking site owned by Microsoft. LinkedIn wanted HiQ to stop, and the two ended up in federal court.

So far, LinkedIn is losing. The U.S. Court of Appeals in the Northern District of California ruled this week that San Francisco-based HiQ can keep using its software bots to collect that data. But even if LinkedIn drops its court effort, the issue is far from settled

LinkedIn data is public, and anyone can view it. The lawsuit raises concerns about the use of software bots to automate social media monitoring. HiQ can watch for profile changes through the bots, which have gained interest from the HR community. One of its tools, Keeper, can identify employees who are a potential flight risk. HR users of the service learn of flight risk through individual risk scores.

The appeals court reaffirmed that public data on LinkedIn is not private. “There is little evidence that LinkedIn users who choose to make their profiles public actually maintain an expectation of privacy,” the court said. 

In a statement, LinkedIn said it is “disappointed in the court’s decision, and we are evaluating our options following this appeal.” It also said that it “will continue to fight to protect our members and the information they entrust to LinkedIn.” HiQ declined to comment.

What’s wholly public — and what isn’t

LinkedIn told the court that the data scraping is done without the consent of its members and is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), an anti-hacking law. HiQ argued the information was “wholly public” and accessible to anyone.

What authority and authorization powers should be left to the owners of the data?
Shain KhoshbinAttorney, Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP

Shain Khoshbin, an attorney at Munck Wilson Mandala, LLP in Dallas, described the court’s decision as troubling. He used a physical locker as an analogy to explain why. A person could look through a locker’s vents “take pictures of its contents, and analyze and sell some version of that information to others — arguably whether or not the locker has a padlock, and even if the locker’s owner sends a cease and desist letter saying stop it.”

The owner of the contents of this locker “has no serious privacy expectation as to the contents of the locker,” Khoshbin said.

What seems lost in all the court decisions, “is what authority and authorization powers should be left to the owners of the data?” Khoshbin said.

It’s privacy vs freedom 

The case has split the opinion of Internet advocacy groups. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a brief arguing that the lower court erred. “Regrettably, the lower court discounted the privacy interests of users and required LinkedIn to make the personal data of LinkedIn users available to data aggregators for whatever purpose they wish. That cannot be correct.”

But the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which also filed a brief, is pleased with the outcome. It said the CFAA law was designed to target people who hack into a computer. Allowing the LinkedIn position to prevail would give precedent for any website to bar any software bot, a move that would hurt journalists, researchers and others.

LinkedIn has the technology to stop automated software bots from collecting its member data. It has instructions in its “robots.txt” file to prohibit access to its servers via automated bots, except for the ones it wants, such as the Google search engine, which has permission from LinkedIn. Robots.txt is used to determine what bots can crawl a site. LinkedIn also had security tools to stop software bots. HiQ was fighting to keep LinkedIn from blocking access of its bots to LinkedIn’s public information.

Protecting an information monopoly

Bryan Harper, manager of Schellman & Company, LLC, a global independent security and privacy compliance assessor in Tampa, Fla., said the ruling doesn’t change the ability of firms to protect themselves.

“In practical terms, companies basically continue business as usual,” Harper said. “If there is a malicious actor or a threat event that is captured by a monitoring tool, then a company should and has a duty to respond with their standard incident response procedures.” 

But “companies should not selectively target those scraping efforts simply to protect an information monopoly,” Harper said. It’s also impractical to block all bots, he said.

The takeaway is “you can’t target competitors” if the services rely on public data that isn’t considered private by its users, Harper said.

Still, the issues may be flushed out with other lawsuits, “since this appeal involved an interim ruling on a preliminary injunction,” Khoshbin said.

The appeals court made it clear that even if the CFAA does not apply, entities that view themselves as victims may still be able to raise claims under state laws, copyright infringement, misappropriation, unjust enrichment or breach of privacy, among other avenues, according to Khoshbin.

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LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh adds deals pipeline

A LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh adds a deals management feature, smoother search experience and mobile deal pages to the social media giant’s social sales platform.

The revamp injects an array of new ways to search, manipulate and process LinkedIn’s vast troves of personal and consumer data and data from CRM systems and puts LinkedIn in a better position to monetize the information — coming off a hot quarter for LinkedIn, which reported June quarter earnings of $1.46 billion, up 37% from Q2 2017.

These upgraded features represent the next step in AI-assisted sales and marketing campaigns in which B2B companies mash up their own customer data with information on LinkedIn.

Microsoft banking on LinkedIn revenue

Microsoft bought LinkedIn in June 2016 for $26.2 billion. While Microsoft doesn’t always announce how AI is assisting automation of sales-centric search tools in Sales Navigator, a premium LinkedIn feature that also integrates LinkedIn data to CRM platforms such as Salesforce and Dynamics CRM, some experts have noted how AI subtly manifests itself in the search. 

The LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh was unveiled in a blog post by Doug Camplejohn, vice president of products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions.

The new “Deals” web interface extracts and imports sales pipeline data from the user’s CRM system and enables users to update pipelines considerably faster, Camplejohn said in the post about the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh.

“Reps can now update their entire pipeline in minutes, not hours,” he wrote.

Adobe Sign connector added

Meanwhile, a new feature in Deals, “Buyer’s Circle,” pulls in and displays opportunity role information to streamline the B2B buying process. Users can see if any “key players” such as decision-maker, influencer or evaluator, are missing from deals, according to LinkedIn.

We all live in email.
Doug Camplejohnvice president of products, LinkedIn

The vendor called another new function in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh — Office 365 integration — “Sales Navigator in your inbox.”

“We all live in email,” the blog post said. “Now you can take Sales Navigator actions and see key insights without ever leaving your Outlook for Web Inbox. “

LinkedIn also touted what it called a “new search experience” in the Sales Navigator update, saying it redesigned the search function to surface search results pages faster and easier.

Also as part of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator refresh, LinkedIn added mobile-optimized lead pages for sales people working on mobile devices. LinkedIn also named Adobe Sign the fourth partner to its Sales Navigator Application Platform (SNAP). Other SNAP partners include Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics and SalesLoft.

Seven ways to make your internship a success, even after it’s over – Microsoft Life

Nurture your connections

If you haven’t already, use LinkedIn to connect with all the people you worked with in a meaningful way during your time as an intern—your manager, other people on your team, employees you collaborated with in other parts of the company, and fellow interns. Make recommendations and give endorsements where appropriate—this is good professional etiquette, and it will also help you obtain those endorsements from others. If there are connections doing work that interests you, follow their progress and consider engaging with and sharing their content or updates.

In addition to strengthening your LinkedIn network, consider setting up an in-person or Skype check-in session with anyone who was particularly influential or impactful to you—a mentor, an advisor, or a manager. This will give you a chance to build the relationship.

Follow up on projects

Did you work on a project that taught you something valuable during your internship? Ask for an update after your internship ends. This shows the people who you worked with that you are interested and invested in the project’s outcome and success and that you value following up. It also gives you a reason to reach out, give them an update about what you are doing or working on, and perhaps nurture relationships that can help your career down the road. Also, learning what the outcome of the project was will help you incorporate the work you did into your resume and LinkedIn profile and allow you to tell the full story, including the impact of the work.

Showcase your work

Speaking of telling the full story . . . you put in the hard work, built new skills, and had a successful internship. Now you want to make sure that you showcase it so that others, such as recruiters and hiring managers, can clearly see your experience.

Before or soon after your internship is over, update your resume and LinkedIn profile to reflect the role. As you think about what you accomplished during your internship and frame it for your resume, include projects that you worked on, focus on transferable skills, incorporate appropriate terms and keywords, and put some thought into your social media presence.

Keep these tips in mind as you move through your internship adventure, and of course don’t forget to have fun!

Recruiting on LinkedIn adds analytics and pointed questions

It will be easier for someone recruiting on LinkedIn to poach talent once the social network giant releases its new analytics platform near the end of September. This may seem startling, but LinkedIn is not shying away from this outcome.

The platform, LinkedIn Talent Insights, is intended to simplify the ability of recruiters to get competitive intelligence and target potential candidates. Users will be able to look at, for instance, the number of software engineers employed by a firm, parse it down by city, see the growth in hiring and note the attrition rate.

In beta testing for LinkedIn Talent Insights, some of the participating users were able to identify firms in some markets that have people with sought-after skill sets, such as software engineers, and then target them. The workers can then be identified using tools for recruiting on LinkedIn.

Poaching talent questioned

Eric Owski, the head of product for Talent Insights at LinkedIn, outlined the forthcoming tool at the recent Society for Human Resource Management conference in Chicago. Before his audience, he used a live demo to demonstrate, in minutes, how to assemble a competitive analysis.

During an audience Q&A, one woman in attendance asked Owski about the ethics of using this analytics tool to raid a competitor.

The world is becoming more transparent.
Eric Owskihead of product for Talent Insights, LinkedIn

The attendee asked: “Does that set up an environment for poaching talent?” And then she immediately answered her own question. “I think the answer is yes. And so why would I sign off on that?”

Owski agreed that using the new tool for recruiting on LinkedIn made poaching possible but argued that there was nothing wrong with making this data available.

Internally, the LinkedIn team on the project had many “philosophical” discussions about the use of this data, Owski said. But the team concluded that “the world is becoming more transparent,” and “very sophisticated teams at large companies were able to figure out a lot of the calculations that we’re making available in this product,” he said. 

“We think by packaging it up nicely, it levels the playing field,” Owski said. “We feel like we’re on safe ground.”

LinkedIn draws line on available data

But LinkedIn is drawing a line on what data it makes available.

Owski said LinkedIn can determine with up to 93% accuracy the gender diversity of workers at a firm by analyzing the first name. But the company isn’t making company-specific gender data available in the search tool because it is “very highly sensitive data” that can open up questions of discrimination. LinkedIn will make that information available at a market or broader level.

LinkedIn Talent Insights uses data from its 560 million global members. The site has 15 million open jobs at any given time and some 23,000 standardized job titles that it recognized. The analytics platform is global and not dependent on government data, Owski said.

The tool’s ease of use was a key point for Owski. The interface appeared to be no more complicated than the advanced search feature on Google. It asked the user to input skills to include and exclude job title, location and industry. It then quickly produced a list of firms with employees who have those skills, hiring trends and attrition rate.

One attendee, Kevin Cottingim, senior vice president of HR at Employbridge, a staffing firm, said in an interview he was “excited” about trying the analytics platform for recruiting on LinkedIn.

Cottingim said his firm has 500 branches around the country and the recruiting analytics tool will help them understand if there are more positions available than candidates in any given market. With that data, he can strategize his plans for more targeted advertising, as well as consider paying a salary premium.

In terms of seeing the attrition rates at other firms, Cottingim said, “I would love to be able to benchmark that against my competitors.”

Quality of data questioned

Some in the audience raised questions about the quality of the data, and whether, for instance, profile changes are a good enough indicator of attrition. An attendee asked if LinkedIn continued to appeal to a full demographic range of people, particularly millennials.

Owski said there’s a potential for noise in the data, but he believes they have enough representation of professionals to “cancel out the noise.”

As far as competitors to LinkedIn, Owski said, unlike Facebook, it doesn’t have Snapchat-type rivals. Some industry observers believe Snapchat, which tends to appeal to younger users, is a potential Facebook threat. Owski’s point is that LinkedIn doesn’t have similar competitors.

Product pricing will be available in July, and the vendor may bundle LinkedIn Talent Insights for people who are already recruiting on LinkedIn. An upcoming feature will be an API that allows users to take the data and use it in their own dashboards.

Another attendee, Melvin Jones, the workforce strategy branch chief at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), said the LinkedIn Talent Insights tool may help the agency improve the targeting of its job advertising and figure out what job markets are best for certain skills. 

It will also enable the agency to know how private sector firms view NOAA’s workforce, Jones said, in an interview.

“It’s good to have validation of the data and see how other people are viewing us,” Jones said. “In military terms, it’s good to see what the enemy sees.”

Discovering what DevOps means through help wanted ads

Help wanted: DevOps engineer.

Try finding a universal job description for that position on LinkedIn or Indeed.com, and you might go down the same rabbit hole I did recently. Based on what I saw, it’s not easy to define what a DevOps professional does.

Perhaps that dilemma owes to the vague boundaries of exactly what DevOps means. How about part technical, part cultural and part utopian? So, you can forgive job recruiters if they’re having a hard time describing DevOps positions that their companies want to fill.

And there are certainly lots of those positions currently open. The upward trends for DevOps jobs are impressive, according to data amassed on Indeed. There were about three times as many job postings on Indeed seeking DevOps candidates in June 2017 compared to June 2014. These job postings increased by 50% alone in the six months from January to June 2017.

Technical-based position wants ‘CIA’

In such a competitive market for job candidates, it’s natural for hiring departments to put their best spin on a DevOps job. I looked at three DevOps cloud engineer positions on LinkedIn just to see what differences showed up.

There were about three times as many job postings on Indeed seeking DevOps candidates in June 2017 compared to June 2014.

To be fair, there were some similarities: Candidates needed experience working with public cloud environments, using software automation techniques and moving toward continuous integration and continuous delivery, among other high-tech responsibilities.

But I also noticed significant differences among the trio of descriptions.

A financial services company, for example, heavily focused its DevOps cloud engineer job description on the technical duties and qualifications. In fact, the sought-after prospect was an engineer in “cloud integration and automation,” or CIA, according to the description. “This CIA engineer will be responsible for … establishing an infrastructure pipeline for on-prem workloads.” Yes, having experience with DevOps principles and in a business-friendly approach was a plus, but that qualification wasn’t readily apparent, and I had to read further down to find it.

Culture-based approach seeks a steward

Meanwhile, a well-known business media company took a different tack in its search for a DevOps engineer. The organization played upon its centennial anniversary and how technology would take it into the future.

In that regard, DevOps professionals were pitched as stewards of new visions, experimentation and increased efficiency — themes that are associated a lot more with the cultural aspects of exactly what DevOps means.

At the media company, DevOps engineers “sleep, eat and breathe a culture that is continuously iterating to improve everything they touch,” the description read.  This call to arms gave an impression strikingly different from the mechanical phraseology of the financial services job description.

Cancer fighters among the DevOps corps

Then there’s the job description from a research university, whose view of a DevOps engineer hinted at Shangri-La: Candidates need to be problem-solvers who might help cure cancer. Really?

That description might seem utopian to some. Yet, anyone following medical breakthroughs knows that precision medicine is enabling both data and clinical know-how to team up in ways not possible just a decade ago. How cool it would be if a DevOps engineer can help improve patient care?

In fact, many IT professionals in healthcare play significant roles in boosting clinical results. Researching cancer at this university, for example, requires automation techniques to better handle 17 petabytes of data flowing through a public cloud. In other words, beating cancer involves technical and DevOps know-how, not just medical expertise.

Considering the three jobs described here, DevOps candidates would seem to have many and varied choices, depending on which role appeals to them most, an embarrassment of options that in itself may seem utopian. However, the bigger issue remains and revolves around what DevOps means and whether it really does know its true identity.

With that in mind, the idea of simply seeking a DevOps engineer to fill a DevOps position might well be flawed, as Fixate IO DevOps analyst Chris Tozzi noted in DevOpsAgenda: “Doing DevOps the right way means getting the entire organization to embrace DevOps, not having a few people on staff who know DevOps.”

From where I stand, the definition of DevOps hinges on what a hiring company says it is. Just check the help wanted ads for proof.

LinkedIn is rolling out a free service to pair users with mentors

LinkedIn, the Microsoft-owned social network for the working world with over 500 million users, has put a lot of effort into new areas of business like content, education and bringing on new users in emerging markets; but today it’s embarking on the roll out of a new service that plays squarely into the bread and butter of its business: looking for work.

Today, the company is debuting a new service that identifies potential mentors and people who might be looking for mentorship in a specific area, and then helps match them to each other. The service (which started with a small test last month) is free and will be available first to users in San Francisco and Australia, Hari Srinivasan, Head of Identity Products at LinkedIn, tells me.

Initially, LinkedIn has tapped a hand-selected list of potential mentors, who will come up as a list, Tinder-style, to people who indicate that they are interested in getting some mentoring, so that a match might get made. Mentors are given options about who they would prefer to mentor, be it people in their first- and second-degree networks, in their region or their former school. Over time, Srinivasan said that the option to become a mentor will be open to everyone, which makes sense: we call could stand to learn something from everyone.

On the mentee side, after you indicate that you are interested in getting some advice or feedback on a particular topic, LinkedIn then gives you your own potential parameters to narrow down your search (again, initially these are whether you want people near you, or from your alma mater), or if you potentially want a list of potential mentors that is as wide as LinkedIn’s user base.

Once you match, you can then message each other, and either side can terminate the communication at any point.

LinkedIn is hoping to tap into what appears to be a gap in the market: career mentoring is a simple enough thing to have when you happen to have chanced upon someone in the same field as you are, either by working with that person or knowing him or her through other channels. It’s a lot harder if you haven’t found that person, or if you are thinking of something less linear, like a career change.

There are career coaching services — for example, the venture-backed startups BetterUp and Everwise — but these can be more formal and come at a price. Out of Office Hours, which was created out of a ‘give something back’ effort over a holiday period, currently focuses on tech careers in Silicon Valley. Notably, LinkedIn’s service (for now) is free, and has the potential to cover as many jobs as there are people registered on the platform.

There are some obvious benefits to LinkedIn with a launch of a service like this. It will give the company one more service to spur engagement on its platform, and this time the new engagement effort directly relates to how most people tend to use LinkedIn already.

It’s also a potential segue into using other services on LinkedIn, including additional training (via Lynda.com or LinkedIn Learning); job searches; and potentially paying for a more tradition career coach that you might just find through ProFinder, LinkedIn’s freelancer marketplace, where LinkedIn tells me career coaching is “one of the most sought after categories on the platform.”

That highlights what might be some of the benefits but also potential pitfalls of this new career matching service. It’s free; generally great that there could be people at the other end of a message who are willing to lend you a helping hand; and it is a cool use of LinkedIn’s network effect to offer a route for those who want to contribute some time to mentors to be able to do so. LinkedIn’s Srinivasan said that this idea wasn’t pulled out of thin air.

“We have done research and found that among the senior ranks of our user base, nine out of 10 people have said they want to give back,” he said. “Paying it forward is a powerful force. All of them received help on the way up and now want to find a way to give that help back to others.”

But on the other hand, there are potential snagging points here, too: how much help is too much to be asking of people who are offering their services for free; and how does LinkedIn make sure that it has enough mentors (or for that matter people wanting to reach out to mentors) across different fields? Will LinkedIn have to eventually introduce other elements to the platform to encourage more usage, like payments or credits for premium features? Keeping the service free and limited in its initial roll out as LinkedIn figures more answers out is one way of holding too many demands of it at bay.

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