Integrating with LinkedIn

Charles Roth, 7/15/2009
(TechBlog top)

I. Introduction
While working on the Gale/Cengage "Career Transitions" ("CT") job-board-on-steroids project, we were asked to explore what integrations with LinkedIn might be possible.  It occurred to me that the information we are gathering might be worth recording for other Pillar folks.

II. Integration approaches
LinkedIn has three general approaches to integration with other web apps:

  1. Public widgets.  These are small bits of functionality anyone can include in a website or web application.  See the widgets page.
  2. Private API.  Surprisingly, LinkedIn does not publish its APIs; you have to apply to them and describe your (intended) application, and they will decide if you are worthy.  There was however, a short presentation given at the 2009 JavaOne conference, about their version 2 APIs

    I have applied for access to the private API on behalf of the Career Transitions project; more information posted as it becomes available.  Presumably having access to the API would vastly increase the possibilities for integration.

  3. LinkedIn apps.  People or companies can also apply to write applications that run on LinkedIn's own application platform.  (Which appears to be using the Google OpenSocial model.)  This appears(?) to be even more stringent than use of the private API. 

III. More on Widgets
The widgets are public and thus easy to experiment with.  There are only three.

  1. Profile.  Anyone can embed either a pop-up or a small in-line LinkedIn profile on any web page. The details are quite straightforward.  I've embedded my (somewhat out-of-date!) profile to the right.

    Possible Goals:

    1. Make it easy to get directly to one's LinkedIn profile from CT.
    2. Include one's LinkedIn profile in the CT create-a-resume tool.

    Problem: One has to to know the LinkedIn "alias" of the person in order to show the profile.  Unfortunately, it is not as simple as, say, knowing the person's email address; each user has to set up their own public alias from within LinkedIn, and then you have to know that.

    Solution: In the context of integrating with Career Transitions... since LinkedIn typically uses an email address as the login userid, it might be possible to offer CT users the option to connect to (or create) their LinkedIn profile, and then (in CT) ask them for their alias.

  Charles Roth

  1. Company Insider.  Given a company, find LinkedIn connections already at that company.  Example on the right is from a company that I used to work at.

    Possible Goals:

    1. When examining or targeting a company in CT, see who works there that you already know.
    2. Get a sense of how many people at that company are already in LinkedIn.


    1. You have to actually be logged-in to LinkedIn (at the same time, perhaps in another window, or at least still have the login cookie) in order to get the list of your connections at that company.
    2. The widget matches companies by name, and it's not clear how precise the match has to be in order to find the company.

  2. Share on LinkedIn"Share" a page (such as CT itself, or possibly a page within CT) with all of your LinkedIn connections.

    Problem: CT doesn't keep state information in its URLs, so there are rarely specific URLs to share.