Why LinkedIn should add relationship status info to profiles

Yesterday I met a friend in San Francisco. He talked about a lot of interesting ideas. One topic was a question he was asked currently by the guys from LinkedIn, whether or not it would be a good idea to add “relationship status” and “sexual orientation” to the profiles.

Your first reaction probably is “NO”, because LinkedIn is a business network and such personal data does not belong there. Xing for example has an issue with women being approached by male “networkers” who try to date them just because of nice pictures. So does it make sense to add the chance to fill in these details?

I wanted to sharpen the question and fire the discussion up a little bit and said: “Let’s add number of children as well!” “Let’s stay focussed”, my friend replied, but I was totally serious with that.

Why? Because I believe that in a recruitment process the willingness of moving to another city, state or country is a function of many factors – job specific and private ones. Being married and having children in school for example makes you much less flexible, because moving will force not just yourself to adapt to a new environment but your wife and children as well.

When it comes to the question of sexual orientation the mechanism is similar, but the topic is a little more delicate. Since there are large differences in state laws dealing with homosexuals for example moving to a less or not at all liberal area can be a show stopper.

In times like these, when there are lots of talents available for recruiters and costs of hiring a critical issue like any others, narrowing down your pool of candidates is more important than ever. Having detailed information on the private situation can be helpful. Leading an interview with someone who won’t be willing to move is wasted time. Offering a job in proximity of good schools or in combination with children day care on the other hand can be a decent differentiator for an employer.

So give everybody the freedom to choose whether or not he wants to provide these details and let’s see what happens. Maybe it can help married women to be bothered less only because they have a beautiful profile picture. :-)

Leave a Reply