LinkedIn Data on Alumni: How to Avoid Disaster
If you’re working in a Higher Ed team that needs alumni data, you already know that LinkedIn data is the gold standard. Why? Because alums like to keep their profiles up to date – it’s how they manage their careers. And that makes employment data from LinkedIn absolutely critical. Especially right now when jobs are changing at an unprecedented rate.
But whilst it’s crucial for Colleges and Universities to tap into the incredible resource that is LinkedIn data, capturing it isn’t easy. LinkedIn’s terms and conditions are very clear. Logging in and scraping their data is illegal. But unscrupulous vendors who ignore this are everywhere – and it can be very difficult to identify them.
So unless you’re comfortable working with vendors who don’t care about the law – which can lead to disastrous consequences in so many ways – we’d like to share a few simple methods you can use to make sure your partners are on the up and up.
Unscrupulous Vendors: Red Flags
Before we start, we wanted to say we’ve worked in this space for over 17 years and we love it. We’re proud of our service, our values and our ethics. There are also some other great vendors in the community who we know can say the same – AlumniSync, AlumniFinder, DoubletheDonation for example.
But unfortunately, there are copycat vendors out there who just want to make a quick buck – no matter what rules they break.
Red Flag #1: What do the LinkedIn URLs you’re getting look like? The most obvious indicator that a vendor is scraping LinkedIn illegally is if they provide you with LinkedIn URLs that are from SalesNavigator.
So check the data file they sent you. Do your links start with www.linkedin.com/sales/people? If the answer is yes, be very very careful.
Note: Some vendors use a trick to get around this. They manually provide you with correct URLs for a sample but then deliver the SalesNavigator URLs when they process your actual file.
Red Flag #2: How is your vendor doing your matching? If they’re just relying on names, that’s a big mess waiting to happen. Not sure why? Jump into your database and take a look at how many John Smiths you have and you’ll get an idea of the number of errors this method will throw up.
Red Flag #3: Are you getting education information in your file? If not, there’s a high probability that your vendor is scraping LinkedIn’s search results page – where this data is more difficult to capture.
Red Flag #4: In the file you receive, has your vendor included start and end dates for Employment? If you combine this with any of the other red flags, it might mean they’re scraping illegally.
Red Flag #5: Legitimate vendors will only ever deliver public alumni profiles back to you. If you’re receiving private profiles your vendor is absolutely guilty of logging in and scraping LinkedIn illegally. And on top of that, they’re actually violating your alum’s privacy. Don’t let them get away with it. Make sure you check that the profiles you’ve been delivered are public.
Finally, before we sign off, here’s a quick look at what “bad” file might look like. (Click on the image to see the text more clearly!)
Validate Your File – Free of Charge
Still have questions? We are happy to validate whether the file you’ve received is legitimately captured or not, at no cost. Just get in touch now.