Thousands of recruiters descended on Nashville last week to attend Talent Connect, LinkedIn’s annual conference. It’s a chance for LinkedIn’s most loyal users to come together and network, learn new ideas, and get an update on the company and its future.
The biggest star of these events, aside from product launches, typically comes down to the CEO giving a state-of-the-company message and painting a vision of the future. LinkedIn’s event was no different, with CEO Jeff Weiner presenting Wednesday morning. Wearing jeans and a button-up, collared shirt, both staples of the Silicon Valley executive, Weiner presented to a packed room of around 4,000 attendees.
“We’re going to talk today about LinkedIn’s role in a changing workforce,” said Weiner. “And when it comes to the changing workforce, there are three themes I believe are worth calling out. AI and automation, on everyone’s mind these days, the skills gap, and the rise of independent work.”
In regards to artificial intelligence, Weiner outlined the growing trend that threatens the livelihood of so many professions. He gave one example of Shake Shake, who is replacing cashiers with kiosks, and another showing that white-collar professionals were at risk too.
On the skills gap, Weiner described how there are currently a record 6 million job openings available in the U.S., but how there are 7 million people still unemployed, with 14 million people underemployed. Weiner believes there are “many skills gaps,” defined by a supply-and-demand imbalance with regard to specific skills in a specific area at a specific time. Weiner gave the example of Detroit, a city that faces a unique skills gap based on changes in the automobile industry.
Moving to the rise of independent opportunities and workers, Weiner noted that there are now 60 million people in the United States currently working as “giggers,” and that there are another 90 million people who are interested in such independent work.
What’s driving this trend?
Weiner said millennials, as a group, have a heightened desire to obtain a “side hustle” and make a living outside of traditional norms, adding that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. He said online marketplaces, such as Uber and Instacart, are helping to drive the gig economy, as well. Lastly, Weiner believes companies find independent workers to be more cost effective, only using them when needed and saving themselves from costs such as healthcare.
Weiner said these are irreversible trends, and companies must evolve in order to recruit and retain this changing workforce. He said LinkedIn believes that can be achieved, in part, by better metrics and insight into the hiring process and landscape.
After discussing these trends, Weiner transitioned his presentation to highlighting LinkedIn’s mission statement and how it has remained autonomous and dedicated to that mission and company culture in light of being acquired by Microsoft for over $26 billion almost a year ago.
Weiner did say, however, that LinkedIn is in a unique position to leverage Microsoft’s billion individual customers, as well as its talent base and experience in developing technology to advance their own agenda. Together, Weiner believes LinkedIn is in a prime position to connect the world’s workforce of 3 billion.
How will this be done?
Weiner believes it will be achieved by LinkedIn with what he calls the “economic graph, which will “digitally map the global economy across six pillars.” These include their members (530 million), companies (18 million), jobs (11 million), skills (50,000), schools (29,000), and updates viewed (190 billion). Boldly, Weiner believes every worker, company, job, and school will one day be active and available on LinkedIn.
The economic graph was a vision born five years ago, and Weiner says that company is making headway into achieving the goal over 100% penetration by constant development that encourages users to engage on a deeper level. Jobs is one example, and the company now features postings more clearly on its mobile app.
A new mentorship option has driven growth too. Another example of growth is the LinkedIn feed that highlights custom, relevant content for active users, such as storylines. Video is the latest driver of growth, enabling people to upload content into LinkedIn, and Weiner showcased examples of how users are using video on the platform.