Hello again, ’tis I.¬† This week is Sean‘s turn on The Whiteboard but given he got married on Tuesday in a very on-brand, esoteric and contrarian ceremony, I am filling in while he and his new wife contribute handsomely to New Zealand’s domestic tourism output.

Given the lack of detailed handover earlier this week I can only assume that Sean is keeping tabs on his desk in between other honeymoon type carry on, much to his wife’s delight, I’m sure.

For my part, when I take a break from the office, I try as much as possible to switch off entirely and just focus on spending time with the family.  This was particularly beneficial to the mental reset process in the good old days when we could travel abroad, particularly to places with limited internet coverage.  But I was always left with a nagging doubt in the back of my mind, whispering at me to keep on top of my LinkedIn InMails.

Where you could happily put an “out-of-office” on your email, and leave a chirpy message on your voicemail, or even just redirect your calls to a colleague, there was no such innovation afforded to the good old InMails.¬† For most people this wouldn’t be an issue, as InMails are probably the least of their thoughts when trying to catch up on incoming communications.¬† But for recruiters it is different.¬† They are absolutely essential, not just for making targeted approaches (or spammy approaches for the bottom-feeding members of our industry out there), but they are often a conduit where candidates from past engagements, or even from past recruitment jobs elsewhere, get in touch and announce they are “ready for a new challenge”.

Now as a rec-to-rec, running such a candidate-short desk, this type of InMail is manna from heaven.¬† I still have nightmares remembering the time I came back from an off-the-grid trip to the Pacific to find a 5-day old InMail from a “walking placement” sitting unanswered in my InMails.¬† Justifiably peeved, after the third day of radio silence the “candidate” had gone to the competition who had promptly sprayed their CV to all of my clients and turned what was a rather expensive holiday into one costing me double.

For years I have been calling on LinkedIn to develop what must surely be a very straightforward addition to InMails and include an out-of-office feature.  Finally, it seems my calls have been answered, as I visited my InMails on my phone earlier this week to be greeted with this:

LinkedIn Away Message

Stop the world, I want to get off!¬† Finally LinkedIn, you cheeky little devils you…. Such innovation!

So thrilled am I with this development (really, despite my sarcasm above) I thought I’d scour back through some old Whiteboard blogs announcing other LinkedIn feature releases and see if any can quite compare:

LinkedIn Stories¬†– for years LinkedIn and Facebook have been creeping closer together, like teenagers at their first disco.¬† Facebook launched a Jobs feature.¬† Now LinkedIn have launched a Stories feature.¬† I think there’s enough shite regurgitated onto the LinkedIn news feed without giving needy attention-seekers another specious channel to air their opinions or announce their new team’s hashtag.¬† Absolute garbage.

LinkedIn Stories

 

Candidate Approachability – those with the massively expensive, but all-singing-and-dancing, Recruiter Pro licenses will know that LinkedIn can help serve up relevant profiles for a search you might be doing, and also suggest their level of approachability and interest in new opportunities.¬† This could actually be pretty useful if it works.¬† But then with half of LinkedIn’s profile pictures displaying the green “Open To Work” sign now, maybe this is a bit redundant?

 

Microsoft Acquisition¬†– when Microsoft bought LinkedIn in for $26b back in 2016, the thing that excited me the most was that the Bing search product might make LinkedIn’s profile search box more intuitive around the different spelling of names.¬† It did improve it, a bit, but even Google’s algorithms can’t cope with the myriad different ways of spelling Catherine or Kelly these days.¬† The best bit seems to be that it can read my Outlook calendar and send me LinkedIn profiles for people I am about to meet, which is somewhat handy.

 

Endorsements¬†– yes there was a time when we used to write recommendations for each other on LinkedIn.¬† Then they got clever and decided to encourage everyone to click suggested “endorsements” for others in their network to promote areas of “expertise”.¬† It never really took off though, and sadly the recommendations feature seems to have been forgotten about as a result too.

 

So yes, it’s official, LinkedIn’s new InMail out-of-office feature is by far their simplest, most obvious, but most¬†important feature release in many a year…

Now if they can just get onto developing something like Facebook’s AI-powered video reader that blocks live streaming of nudity and murders, but apply it to any videos of “thought leaders” telling us about their recent learnings, how their meeting just went, or how they are feeling today, whilst walking down the street or sitting in their fucking car, then that will easily supersede this as the finest development ever.

On you go, LinkedIn.

Jonathan Rice

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.

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