Why did LinkedIn acquire Bright

Three new members per second

Mr. Kaestner, what is your conclusion after one year at the helm of LinkedIn in the DACH region?

Till Kaestner: I am very satisfied with the first year: In September 2013 we had four million members in the region, which corresponds to a growth of 35 percent within ten months. We have also won a number of customers for our two business areas, marketing and recruiting solutions. In Switzerland, these include ABB, Credit Suisse, Nestlé and Novartis. Our office in Munich has meanwhile grown to twelve employees.

If you google your name, your Xing profile appears first. How do you feel personally about your main competitor, Xing?

I was one of the first members on both LinkedIn and Xing. For me it is interesting to observe the development of both networks - as I also followed the rise of Facebook and WhatsApp with great fascination.

In the DACH region, Xing is in the leader position, cracked the 7 million mark in January and is around 3 million profiles ahead of LinkedIn. What makes Xing better, is Xing better?

Since I'm not the managing director of Xing, but of LinkedIn - and I don't want to dispute Mr Vollmoeller's position either - I am happy to answer questions about LinkedIn.

To person

Till A. Kaestner has been managing director for LinkedIn Germany, Austria, Switzerland (DACH) for over a year, where, in addition to implementing the corporate strategy, he is particularly responsible for growth initiatives in the DACH region. Till Kaestner's professional positions include T-Mobile and Trust Group Multimedia as well as the Monster Worldwide job platform. Kaestner studied architecture at the TU Darmstadt. He has four children and is an avid motorcyclist and sailor.

How do you position yourself in relation to Xing?

We offer three benefits for members and recruiters. First: the user base. LinkedIn has more than 277 million members worldwide, more than 65 million in Europe, including more than four million users in the DACH region. Every second there are three new members around the world. Second: Every DAX company is represented with us, a total of three million companies have a profile with us. Third, our members are very active. In the past year, LinkedIn members used our search functions 5.7 billion times to find employers and colleagues, customers, job candidates and professional information. Our Talent Solutions make LinkedIn a valuable recruiting platform for new employees, and our marketing and sales solutions can be used to attract new customers.

Nevertheless: LinkedIn and Xing are perceived similarly. Is there room for two professional networks?

We estimate that the DACH region offers a target group of around 25 million specialists and executives. This means that with four million LinkedIn members in the region, there is great growth potential in contrast to markets such as the Netherlands, where 90 percent of all specialists and executives are already with LinkedIn.

Would you like to buy Xing?

No. I ask for your understanding that we as a listed company do not comment on this any further.

In HR circles in particular, a certain “social media fatigue” seems to be noticeable. Is the impression wrong or has the social recruiting hype reached its climax in the meantime?

My impression is that we are only at the beginning of the social recruiting trend. The use of online business networks in the search for the right candidates for key positions is increasing: According to our study “Global Recruiting Trends” published in July 2013, 37 percent of recruiting officers consider these networks to be the most important sources of highly qualified employees. In 2012, the channel was still relevant for less than a quarter of recruiters and clearly had to admit defeat by job boards on the Internet (2012: 60 percent, 2013: 34 percent) and their own career website (2012: 32 percent, 2013: 29 percent). Social media is therefore a global trend, because 37 percent of HR professionals also rate online business networks as an important recruiting channel internationally.

Keyword time management: In addition to online life, we also have an offline life. How do you personally deal with this diversity?

By combining the best of both worlds. I bought my first cell phone in the late 1990s - it was a revolution back then, and it made meeting appointments and keeping in touch with business partners and friends a lot easier. At the same time, concerns began that people would be constantly available as a result. For me, social media is an extension of this trend and has good and bad sides. The efficient management is admittedly not always that easy, but I'm still happy about the simplicity with which I can manage my life thanks to modern technology - but also like to switch off all devices when I'm at home with my daughters and my wife.

You worked at Monster for several years, so you come from a job platform. Hand on heart: Hasn't LinkedIn always been designed as a covert job portal, so to speak “through the back door”?

LinkedIn was never designed as a job portal. As our recently published study “Talent Trend” showed, only 11 percent of our members are actively looking for a new job. The rest are so-called passive candidates who already have a good position - however, every second candidate is willing to change if he or she is made an interesting offer. So LinkedIn is about addressing these specialists and executives in a targeted manner. They will not respond to job advertisements.

Candidate sourcing is one of LinkedIn's great specialties. However, in practice this is not enough to find a good profile. Conversation remains essential. Will LinkedIn one day also hold candidate interviews?

In the field of recruiting, LinkedIn offers extensive opportunities to find passive and active candidates nationally and internationally among our 277 million members. Our offer basically includes the placement of candidates. At the same time, we offer employer branding solutions, for example our company pages, with which companies can present themselves and make contact with candidates easier. But we're not going to take on the role of HR to select and hire candidates.

LinkedIn recently bought Bright, a company that specializes in matching candidate profiles and job vacancies, for $ 120 million. What impact does this acquisition have on your LinkedIn recruiting service?

The Bright team has developed an interesting technology that simplifies data comparison based on self-optimizing algorithms. We are planning to integrate this technology into our “Jobs that might interest you” section and into the LinkedIn recruiter, among other things. The aim is to link passive candidates and potential employers even more efficiently and quickly in the future. In this respect, we will offer our recruiting customers improved solutions with which they can search for specialists and executives on LinkedIn.

What new products can recruiters expect in the near future? What news is there from the e-recruiting front?

The LinkedIn Recruiter is a comprehensive search engine that - since 2012 also in German - offers access to LinkedIn's 277 million members worldwide. Search parameters such as location, industry, company size, length of service with the company, years of professional experience, position and training enable the research to be quickly narrowed down to the most relevant candidates before they are contacted. The recruiter solution is also available for mobile devices. Our credo is to grow through innovation. So you can be sure that we will be introducing some exciting new products for HR professionals again this year.

Keyword mobile strategy: Can you hold out the prospect of specific projects?

Globally, 41 percent of our traffic comes from mobile devices. We offer LinkedIn for all operating systems and therefore for all types of smartphones and tablets. For example, we found that usage behavior differs between mobile phones and tablets: while the tablet at the breakfast table is more likely to be used to read articles and news from the network, the LinkedIn app on the smartphone is used to make new contacts to your network or get information about members before meeting them in person. We also offer our members the “Apply with Mobile” function, with which they can use their LinkedIn profile to apply for a job conveniently from the bus stop on Monday morning, for example. For corporate customers, there is the “Recruiter Mobile” product, which offers HR specialists a mobile recruiting solution. In short: Mobile is central to our strategy.

How will LinkedIn present itself in 5 years?

As a listed company, we are unfortunately unable to make any predictions for the future. If we look ten years or more into the future, we would like to implement the so-called “Economic Graph”: We would like to show worldwide which connections exist between specialists and managers and their specialist knowledge on the one hand and companies and their job offers on the other, and from this global as also read local economic trends in real time. This is one of our visions, and today almost half of the 600 million specialists and executives we estimate worldwide are already members of LinkedIn.