LinkedIn Bid To Change How Companies Hire May Benefit Black Professionals

LinkedIn Changes Hiring
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When LinkedIn asked more than 500 executives in the US and Britain this summer what they thought work should look like in a post-pandemic world, it intended to use their responses to move closer to its goal of changing the way companies hire.

That change would see companies pivot to skills-based hiring, says Andrew “Drew” McCaskill, LinkedIn Career Expert and Global Communications, away from today’s typical hiring based on degree, college alma mater, personal connections, current job, and even ethnicity.

For skeptics, LinkedIn’s intentions are good, but the pivot it seeks may not happen for a long time, if at all. Meanwhile, Blacks remain at a hiring disadvantage.

“We’re still at a disadvantage when it comes to being hired, not because of lack of qualifications but because there currently aren’t enough people who look like us doing the hiring,” says Michael Sadler, a digital entrepreneur. “We need a more effective means of finding each other, hiring each other, and funding each other, which will ultimately result in more of us being hired and more wealth in our communities,” he says.

Sadler created The Black Business Company, a platform where Black business owners and entrepreneurs can discover and hire each other, gain more democratized access to capital, benefit from the platform’s strong SEO tactics, gain more referrals and reviews, and gain access to what he is calling ‘Black-allied’ businesses.

LinkedIn is forging ahead, determined to come up with features that promote skills-based hiring – distinguishing itself from online job sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and Monster. It wanted to hear from Black professionals in particular.

While companies have created all sorts of diversity and inclusion programs for people of color, “We wanted to know what their [workplace] experience is like, what they wanted in a job,” says McCaskill, who helps to spread word that LinkedIn does more than simply list job openings and collect resumes.

“We actually talked to the Black professionals. We‘ve built equity into the conversation. We’re showing companies what they need to do,” McCaskill says.

Those statements align with his public description of his work at LinkedIn. “Part of my role is to ensure storytelling is informed by cultural competency and inclusive narratives,” he writes on his LinkedIn page.

LinkedIn, considered the world’s largest online professional jobs network, claims more than 774 million registered members in more than 200 countries and territories as of September 2021.

A 2015 Network Journal “40 Under Forty Achievers” honoree, McCaskill spoke to TNJ at the beginning of this month in an exclusive telephone interview that coincided with LinkedIn’s release of results from its survey conducted online between August 4 and August 24.

“People are transitioning at a record pace. Seventy-three percent of Americans say the pandemic has changed the way they feel about their career and that they feel less fulfilling in their current jobs,” he says. “It’s not as if they’re resigning and sitting at home. They’re moving to other jobs. That’s why we’re calling it “The Great Reshuffle.”

While “The Great Resignation” is more popular, it focuses on the record rate at which Americans quit their jobs as vaccination seemed to ease the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. In August alone, 4.3 million people quit their jobs, the largest number since the Bureau of Statistics has been recording such data.

Blacks and The Great Reshuffle

Blacks professionals figure prominently in transitioning statistics, LinkedIn’s data show.

In its survey, 39 percent of Black professionals say they’ve experienced symptoms of a career awakening since the pandemic, compared to 29 percent white professionals; 62 percent say they plan to invest in online learning to improve their career; 58 percent have thought about changing jobs in the last year; and 29 percent are actively looking for new job opportunities, compared to 16 percent white professionals.

Among reasons why they are leaving their jobs, 46 percent cited competitive wages; 43 percent cited lack of career growth and opportunity; 27 percent said interest in another industry; 25 percent said lack of professional development; 25 percent said lack of recognition; and 24 percent cited company culture. Other concerns include lack of mentorship.

Related LinkedIn features

In line with its goal, targeted conversations and survey data, LinkedIn now boasts skills-oriented features of particular benefit to Blacks and people of color. These include:

A name pronunciation feature that allows members to add a recorded audio version of their name to their LinkedIn profile. Introduced in 2020, it addresses a common concern of Blacks and other Job seekers of color whose cultural origins are different from their white peers. “Imagine being in a job interview and the recruiter mispronounces your name. That won’t make you feel good,” says McCaskill.

LinkedIn Learning. Job seekers can take free online courses to learn or upgrade the skills they need for the job they hope to transition to, thereby enhancing their competitiveness.

“You can get certifications for the skills you learn from our online courses,” McCaskill notes.

This seems to pair with the platform’s Skills Path feature, where companies list the skills they need for specific positions and use a fast path to hire candidates. Job seekers who take LinkedIn Learning courses to gain those skills and complete an assessment, earn a phone screen with the company.

Alerts for remote jobs. LinkedIn says the share of remote job posts on its platform increased to 16.3 percent of global job posts in August 2021 from 1.9 percent at the start of the pandemic in March 2020. In the US, these job listings attract twice the share of views and 2.5 times the share of applications when compared against onsite job postings.

“Most Black professionals are in the South. You can say you want to stay in Mississippi but you want to work remotely. This feature means you don’t have to fly into Manhattan to find a job in media, or to Silicon Valley for a tech job,” McCaskill says. “When you see an alert you can fill out an application immediately online and submit it.”

Open To Work. LinkedIn members can indicate on a career page that they are open to other job opportunities, describe their skills and the areas in which they are looking for work and share that information with recruiters, The information is hidden from recruiters at their current place of employment and their partner companies.

“You can also list the skills you have in your side hustle. People of color always have a side hustle,” McCaskill says. “We create economic opportunity for the global workforce. There are a record number of open jobs on LinkedIn. Confirmed hires have increased nearly 173 percent. Women are now transitioning in jobs at a faster pace than men. My advice to Blacks professionals is to create a career page.”

Beyond these features, as a professional network LinkedIn provides for a more personal connection with business executives that Black professionals often lack, McCaskill says.

“Imagine being able to say to an executive at a company you want to work for, ‘I’ve followed your career.’ LinkedIn allows you to do that,” he says.