The online professional network LinkedIn is known for showing its members “people you may know.”
The Mountain View, California, company is not so savvy about places you may go, especially if that place is Bend.
Many professionals here have noticed their location appears in LinkedIn search results as “Eugene, Oregon Area.” Nope. Eugene is a 2½-hour to three-hour drive from Bend over the Cascade mountain range.
Not only are Eugene and Bend far apart, but they are also separate labor and housing markets, defined by economists in separate metropolitan statistical areas.
Real estate agent Greg Fischer, of Bend, recently contacted LinkedIn about fixing the glitch and was told by a customer service representative that it’s a problem with the geocoding system, which is provided by another company. “Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the third-party system,” the agent wrote in a message to Fischer.
While some of Fischer’s clients find him on LinkedIn, he said he’s more concerned about local small-business owners that might be missing out on business from outside the market. Local companies trying to fill jobs could also be affected because potential hires looking for jobs in Bend might ignore listings that LinkedIn labels in the Eugene area.
Having worked for a technology company, Realtor.com, that relied on third-party geography software, Fischer thinks LinkedIn would fix the glitch if it were a high enough priority.
“It’s honestly as simple as a senior product manager at LinkedIn getting on the phone with their geosoftware company and fixing it,” he said.
LinkedIn did not respond to an inquiry from The Bulletin.
LinkedIn’s mislabeling Bend as Eugene used to affect Bend software firm G5’s recruitment effort, said Keeli Hyde, vice president of people operations. The company would get a lot of responses to job listings from people in Eugene who were actually looking for work in their own city, not Bend. “We’ve mentioned that to our sales representative at LinkedIn a few times,” Hyde said. “They didn’t have a specific reason. It was being looked into.”
Eventually the problem was resolved for G5 because the company subscribed to LinkedIn’s premium Recruiter software, which allows it to post a large number of job listings for one price. One of the features of Recruiter is that G5 can specify the job’s location in the headline, Hyde said. After landing $76 million in private-equity funding in 2015, G5 is growing its staff and has more than 20 jobs posted on LinkedIn.
Fischer, who moved to Bend from the San Francisco Bay area six months ago, said the fact that search results show him being in the Eugene area hasn’t had a big impact on his work as a broker at Fred Real Estate Group. Most of his referrals come from people already living in Bend, and potential clients typically look only at his LinkedIn profile to review his qualifications.
He recently made the case on his blog for local businesspeople to contact LinkedIn and request a fix. “It’s confusing, misleading and is affecting our local economy on a scale that I can’t fully measure,” he wrote. “There is no telling how many prospects have ignored local job postings or local business owners because of this.”
It’s hard to tell whether Fischer’s campaign has rattled the chain of command at LinkedIn. As of Friday, searches for professionals located in Bend still showed them in the “Eugene, Oregon Area” within search results. Clicking on profiles will show people’s locations, as they chose to list them.
Searching for jobs such as “nurse” or “accountant” now turns up many results listed specifically in Bend. It’s unclear whether that’s because LinkedIn made a fundamental change to the way its software works or because companies are using Recruiter.
Serving recruiters is a big business for LinkedIn, which has 400 million members worldwide and 124 million in the United States. The company states that it derives 62 percent of its revenue from talent solutions.
— Reporter: 541-617-7860,