Taking Another Look at LinkedIn

By Lin Grensing-Pophal August 18, 2020
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Using LinkedIn app

​LinkedIn has become the de facto place to seek candidates across a wide range of jobs and professions. But, as its membership numbers have grown, is it becoming more or less useful for recruiters and HR pros when seeking job candidates? We sought input from recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers on what works best for them to find and place top talent through LinkedIn. The good news: LinkedIn remains a top source of candidates and offers a number of options for finding potential members for your team.

"LinkedIn is still far and away the most useful recruiting tool for recruiters," said James Hornick, a partner at Hirewell in Chicago. "It's basically a worldwide company directory that nearly all professionals opt in to."

LinkedIn Recruiter

Taylor Grant is a senior recruiter for Boston-based Surf Search Inc., which specializes in biotech and medical devices. Grant says LinkedIn is her primary tool for finding candidates. "The increase in users has become a boon for our company, as we pride ourselves in searching smarter," she said. 

However, she added, "While we do have job postings listed on LinkedIn, a very small number of applicants are actually qualified for positions." Instead, she said, more success has come from reaching out to candidates directly in Recruiter. LinkedIn Recruiter is a paid option; those who subscribe can message anyone, not just their connections, and without having to use InMail.

InMail and Groups

InMail is another LinkedIn option that allows people to connect with each other. Some users have an entirely open profile, meaning that anyone, including recruiters, can send them InMail messages on LinkedIn. Recruiters have a harder time directly messaging users who don't have open profiles, and thus can only receive messages from their connections, but it's possible for recruiters to pay for a monthly subscription option that allows them to send a certain number of InMail messages a month.

For recruiters, Hornick said, "InMails are dead, at least compared to how effective they used to be." Why? Because the sheer number of people using InMail to reach out to others has created a very spam-like environment, he said. "Everyone has been spammed to death. Recruiters have an easier time using e-mail or text or sending messaging within the messaging platform if they are connected."

Hornick is also not a fan of Groups, which he says are also dead. "Engagement is low because, while a lot of people are on LinkedIn, most are not active users." Group traffic, he said, has moved to Facebook Groups, "because more people are on Facebook and enjoy actually spending time there."

Company Pages

One of the most common uses of the LinkedIn company page option is for employee recruitment. But there is still some potential for recruiters to increase their use of this option.

Marina Byezhanova is co-founder of Montreal-based headhunting firm Pronexia and founder of an HR movement called InfluenceHR. "The biggest underutilized way of leveraging LinkedIn for recruitment is to make it the cornerstone of employer branding campaigns," she said. 

She points to one of her clients who is in the process of completely rebranding its LinkedIn page to incorporate employee stories, weekly letters from the CEO, and posts to showcase its openings and successes. These pages can work well for this, Byezhanova said, but she cautions users to make sure that their LinkedIn careers page is in alignment from a brand standpoint with their main website. "Prospective candidates will surely visit your website as well," she said. "Branding needs to be aligned on both, or you will cause perception dissonance and lose your candidates' interest."

Talent Insights

What companies do you compete with for top talent? How do they position their organizations and their openings to attract this talent? You can easily find out on LinkedIn and then look for ways to make your organization and its open positions stand out in meaningful ways that are likely to appeal to potential applicants.

More Users = More Noise

Despite agreement among talent acquisition professionals that LinkedIn remains a top recruiting tool, they also acknowledge that noise and spam on the channel have become increasingly problematic.

Matt Marturano is vice president of Orchid Holistic Search, a recruiting organization for the natural products industry. "The primary challenge is the additional time it takes to separate the signal from the noise when using the platform," he said. "Part of it is simply due to the increased input resulting from mass adoption. However, some of it is also due to users who do not understand how to use the system or are deliberately misusing it."

His daily incoming messages have increased from one or two a day to five or 10, he said. "Many of them are solicitations from businesses that aren't even offering anything we would be interested in." Worse, he said, "we have been seeing a strong uptick in messages coming from people who are very zealously trying to recruit us into a multilevel marketing business."

While Marturano said LinkedIn has rolled out some new tools to address spam and other unwanted content, he hasn't yet seen a positive impact. "If this continues at the current pace, we will definitely start looking for candidates on other platforms that are more closely curated, and no doubt other recruiters will begin doing the same."

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a freelance writer in Chippewa Falls, Wis.

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