Goodbye, Xing: the growing success of LinkedIn in Germany

Shelley Pascual
Shelley Pascual - [email protected]
Goodbye, Xing: the growing success of LinkedIn in Germany

The career-oriented social networking site LinkedIn is growing faster than its main competitor, Xing. What has it been offering professionals to account for this growth?


In terms of social media networks having to do with business and employment, there are only really two big players in the German market: Xing and LinkedIn.

But LinkedIn - an American company owned by Microsoft - is now growing faster than Xing, a German company which is headquartered in Hamburg, reports Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ), adding that LinkedIn has been “a success story in Germany.”

When the first LinkedIn office opened in Munich in 2011, there were only five employees at the time. By 2016, the team which had grown to 60 staff moved to another office in a shopping centre in downtown Munich. Now there are 80 employees in the Bavarian capital, and the number just keeps getting higher - reflecting the platform's rising user numbers.

While Xing still leads the way with over two million more users in Germany than LinkedIn, the latter is catching up quickly.

Last year, LinkedIn reached eleven million members in the German-speaking countries of Germany, Austria and Switzerland while Xing reached thirteen million members in the region.

Despite LinkedIn seeing an increase of one million new members in the region every seven months, with the highest number of German users in Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich, a Xing spokesperson told The Local that in recent months "it seems we are growing faster" than our competitor.

Networking between members

Photo: DPA

"We want networking between our members to take place in order to make them more productive," Barbara Wittmann, member of LinkedIn’s management board in Munich, told SZ.

“We are constantly working on new ideas,” she added.

A new service for German-speaking members launches on Thursday. This service, called, "Career Tips and Mentoring," will allow members to collect career-related advice from other users. Those interested can moreover be partnered with mentors who have completed similar training, have the same skills or have worked in an industry of interest over a longer period of time.

More than a job search tool

Since July 2012, LinkedIn has also positioned itself as more than just a job search engine. With a user interface that’s similar to Facebook, including a main feed displaying news, jobs and notifications based on a user’s connections, interests and subscriptions, it stands in stark contrast to Xing’s simple start page.

While both networks offer professionals the chance to create profiles and build up a career network, LinkedIn members are encouraged to share pictures, links and videos and write detailed texts sharing their own professional experiences.

The latter not only facilitates networking between members, staff at the platform strive to increase the activity of users.

Making use of influencers

The editorial teams - which operate in six different languages - help users come up with topics to explore and support them with the structure and language of a text, according to Jörg Bueroße, editorial head of the German-speaking region.

“The teams additionally see to it that the 500 influencers worldwide regularly post onto the site," Bueroße told SZ, explaining that influencers are well-known personalities or experts from a wide range of fields.

In Germany, examples of influencers include CEO of Daimlar, Dieter Zetsche, and the editor of Wirtschaftswoche, Miriam Meckel.

Though they don't get any money for their postings, nor do the approximately 2,000 other German-speaking members who post regularly, they can “strengthen their own brand in this way,” Bueroße said.

‘A business card and CV in one’

"Those who’ve worked for ten or fifteen years no longer want to write a cover letter, and many companies no longer look at these texts,” said board member Wittmann, adding that both sides benefit from the network's opportunities.

The LinkedIn profile is a business card and CV in one in that it only takes a single click to apply for jobs, she said.

Being able to apply for jobs at the press of a button is just one part of LinkedIn’s business model. Another aspect is that recruiters can network with potential candidates and offer them jobs. There are additionally marketing solutions, sales solutions, premium accounts and a training platform called "LinkedIn Learning."

It's the whole package on offer that has made Linkedin so successful, said Wittmann.

"Every two seconds a new member registers. There are now 530 million worldwide."


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