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Does LinkedIn Think HR People Are Dumb?

It's a fair question. I first saw this in a post from Laurie Ruettimann - LinkedIn is holding a non-technical hackathon where they'll ask 300 interns with very little work experience to hack their way to a better version of human resources.

So there are no bad ideas when it comes to brainstorming, right?  Well, there are. This might be one of them.

Here's the description from LinkedIn:

"LinkedIn is setting out to revolutionize the way HR is viewed in the eyes of the world. From Friday, July 31st to Saturday, August 1st, LinkedIn will be hosting a non-technical hackathon.

Throughout this 16-hour event, interns will not be building an app or a website, but rather will solve a big, complex business problem with an innovative, game-changing idea. The event is FREE to attend and there will be plenty of FREE food, drinks, activities, music, swag, and networking opportunities. The best teams will showcase their project to a panel of expert, high-profile judges for a chance to win killer prizes.

Registration is now open! Be sure to sign-up, as spots are filling up quickly."

You can go to the site and watch the video.  In that video, you'll see various members of the LinkedIn HR and Talent team talk about what's happening - there excited about it!  Which should be cool, right?

It's cool until you stop and think about the LinkedIn model.  LinkedIn is pure genius.  It rode into town on the cloak of career development - build your network!  That's right up there with Apple Pie, Mom and the American Flag.

We beat down the cop-like HR pros who dared questioned the intent of LinkedIn.  Same thing for the C-level leaders who also questioned whether this might make employees more poachable.  Then LinkedIn pivoted once the network effect was in place and started building a recruiting business. 

Now LinkedIn is going to solve HR - but without any of HR pros who might have great ideas - or real world perspective - on how to do it. 

Interns? Love 'em.  But interns have never had to think about risk management - while attempting to recruit for 100 openings - while being expected to ramp a leadership development academy from scratch - while investigating the Director from Marketing for chronic harassment.  Which is to say the ideas will probably be cool - but will have little to do with the realities that most HR pros in companies big and small face every day.

LinkedIn walked in the back door and built a business model off the access that companies - and HR pros - gave them.

Now there going to fix HR with a hackathon that doesn't include any of the HR people that pay them.  Interesting.

I'm not mad at you, LinkedIn.  I just think it's interesting that you're doing a hackathon to fix HR without anyone who does the work.  

I know, I know - fresh minds. Good luck with that - I'm sure the ideas will be strategic


Andrea Colantoni

Hi Kris,
Do I detect a tone of hurt here? ;)

Yes, LI thinks that HR people are dumb, like so many other people in this world - and sometimes they are right..

Consider this:
1) Just because you have to deal with compliance AND 100 vacancies, doesn't excuse the HR community from innovating their function - which we rarely do, to be honest.
2) The compliance side is an extremely US-centric phenomenon that other HR people deal much less with unless they work for a SOX compliant company. LI is global and their growth lies outside the US...
3) There are many examples of "kids" changing business models around the world without knowing a rat's ass about the business - why would HR be different? One can say that Google is full of such people, same as McKinsey, but they brutally change all what is true in any given industry.

In HR, we have a tendency to find excuses and not rock the boat in the name of compliance. I say the HR function is long overdue for overhaul...

IMHO, and always with great respect for what you write,

Doubting Thomas

I know there are a lot of hack SVPs out there, but you'd think that LinkedIn of all companies would have a kick-ass SVP of Global Talent. That lady couldn't open her mouth without a half dozen empty buzzwords falling out...

The fact that she bookended the video makes me think this whole thing is her brainchild. Yikes.

LinkedIn, raise your game!


Hi Andrea -

The truth, as it always does - lies somewhere in the middle...


Karen H

I didn't see participation medals in the list of freebies LI would provide. Millenials haven't done anything without getting a participation medal, right?

All kidding aside, I am all for fresh ideas, but it would be great to see teams consist of interns and seasoned professionals. To me, that would enhance the networking situation for the interns, and maybe help the seasoned professionals see fresh/new perspectives. Win-win for both groups.

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