Linkedin - an essential recruiters tool

Linkedin - for many its been around for quite a while now and is an essential part of the recruitment landscape and part of your toolkit as a recruiter. But we still come across employers for whom its fairly new - especially in NZ and Australia. They have been doing a series of seminars recently engaging with recruiters - some thoughts, information and reasons why this is an essential recruiting tool
I attended an interesting session with Linkedin in Auckland this week and I ended up speaking to quite a few people about social networks and recruiting which I thought might be of interest. If you have read previous posts you will know I am not a great fan of social networks preferring real friends that I see and speak to, over virtual ones. But I do think Linkedin is an exception and stands out as both as a great professional development facility as well as being very useful to employers and agency recruiters.

I have been on Linkedin for many years now following my UK experience of both recruitment and in technology services. However, arriving some 2 ½ years ago when I made jump over to NZ it was very noticeable that few candidates and indeed few HR or recruiters used Linkedin. That has clearly changed as the seminar demonstrated and Linkedin has had great growth both in Australia and NZ since then. In NZ, membership is now above 800k ,which from a job market point of view, means penetration into the skilled professional job base must now be the norm. If you are looking for overseas candidates, penetration rates will probably be a lot higher in the European and US markets.

I have always been wary of putting to much info on social networking sites. Working in IT I am well aware of the risks round identity theft and tend to keep a “lite” public profile. A learning point from the seminars was however was the importance of including a photo on my profile. I do actually have one on mine - not my best side Winking However the Linkedin guys have done research and seems that having a photo on your profile leads on average to a 6x increase in people looking at it. That I think is a really useful thing to know. 6x is a big increase in effectiveness and I imagine many others, like me, would be not aware that this could have such a big impact. Anyway now you know – so put you photo on your profile…

There was also a lot of discussion around job boards both in the session and in the general networking before and after. The over-welling view that I picked up was that adverts on job boards are generating more and more unsuitable candidate applications. Consequently filtering out the good ones is becoming more of a chore to recruiters. Of the big 3 here in NZ, ‘Seek’ in particular was the one mentioned by most of recruiters I spoke to for providing lots of unsuitable applicants - even using the filter question facility. We are big proponents of using employer career sites to set expectations and act as qualitative filters. A well put together careers site should deliver better quality applicants by; discouraging those who don’t meet essential requirements and encouraging applications from those that do.

Linkedin’s own job advertising facilities seems to be getting better and better. One of the things I do like about it is that it promotes job adverts only to those whom match the keyword profiles. Meaning it displays your ads against a screened market and not just infront of every Tom, Dick and Harry. Certainly from what I hear, from both our clients who use it and others, is that they tend to get better quality applicants from Linkedin and less unsuitable applications. If you are not yet advertising your vacancies on LinkedIn another thing to appreciate is that Linkedin knows what it is good at. It provides at no charge an easy to use ‘linkout’ facility so applications to adverts can be fully captured on your recruitment system (‘Seek’ take note).

A facility Linkedin created some 18 months ago that I think has not worked so well but which they are still promoting is their facility for candidates to apply for Linkedin job adverts with just their Linkedin profile. We got involved with a trial of this way back, it did not go well. Our client did not like not missing the CV and ended up having to ask for it with applications they took forward. The facility has developed a bit, but frankly I really don’t see it working for most of our clients. The underlying premise that it is easier for a candidate to apply if they just have to click a button and not mess about with their CV or answer some screening questions has issues. Unfortunately the amount of detail in a Linkedin profile varies considerably and in many (most?) cases may well fall short of what employers would expect from an equivalent CV or application form. I know very few employers who would be prepared to process an application without a CV. Even from a compliance point of view; the CV provides a permanent record of what the candidate says they have done and places they had worked at – that is not quite the same as most profiles. Also, you don’t want people to find it too easy to apply or you just end up with too many applications from people who are not fully committed or interested in your position. So - full marks to LinkedIn for giving this a go but I don’t see it taking off for employers. Agencies however may well find this very useful.

Lastly, Linkedin’s Recruiter package has changed considerably. It is now particularly useful for Agencies and its even quite possible now to use the ‘Recruiters‘ package to run a small recruitment agency’s candidate bank. As a resourcing tool for anyone; employer or agency, it really is in my view indispensable if your markets include professional and managerial positions.
So if you are one of our clients or an employer reading this I would say linkedin is a very powerful means of engaging with skilled and professional people. If you have not been placing job adverts with Linkedin then I would give them another look. From the feedback we get, those who place adverts on Linkedin say they get good quality responses. Like most other job boards it also works well our systems and is a good traffic driver to your careers site.