The Proliferation of LinkedIn as a Talent Acquisition Tool

Creative Recruitment | Insight & Opinion

Since its launch in 2003, the ascendancy of LinkedIn as a robust employment-focused social network has been meteoric. However, while LinkedIn’s capabilities as a marketing channel are well established, how effective is it as a talent acquisition solution? 

LinkedIn’s embedded recruitment functionalities have been embraced by some and shunned by business owners, HR professionals and recruiters alike. Therefore, it is prudent for organisations to evaluate the relative merits and limitations of LinkedIn before deploying it to source the most talented candidates. 

This article serves as a point of reference for those considering the advantages and drawbacks of this network as a recruitment tool. 

The Efficacy of LinkedIn for Talent Discovery

The lion’s share of recruiters (72% to be specific) leverage LinkedIn to identify candidates. As far as job seekers are concerned, LinkedIn is also used prolifically, second only to Indeed, as a resource to find vacancies. With other major sources such as Guardian Jobs and Reed following close behind.

LinkedIn streamlines the global search for world-class professionals from both sides of the recruitment spectrum. Its array of features – including job postings, messaging, special interest groups, endorsements, skills, and references – empower companies to pinpoint ideal candidates with razor-sharp accuracy and precision. 

From a candidate’s perspective, finding roles on LinkedIn is incredibly straightforward and quick. Our Studies show LinkedIn job listings generate 15 times more content impressions than generic job ads. As 70% of job seekers passively explore new opportunities on professional networks and job sites, LinkedIn is well-positioned to capitalise on this trend.

That said, LinkedIn is not a panacea and hiring organisations must remain cognizant of its limitations. A singular channel approach will only bring through certain candidates, a diverse recruitment strategy will cover numerous boards, databases and talent attraction techniques to broaden talent pools and secure the best candidates.

The Benefits of LinkedIn for Recruitment

Increased Efficiency and Time Savings

LinkedIn is a goldmine for recruiters seeking to fill a variety of senior roles with a surplus of highly-qualified candidates. Well-crafted LinkedIn profiles with extensive networks enable recruiters and hiring managers to swiftly vet candidates, expediting the, often, excruciatingly time-consuming recruitment cycle. Powerful CV filtering tools further streamline the assessment of applicants, conserving limited time and resources.

A Comprehensive and Organised Database

LinkedIn integrates seamlessly with most HR recruitment software, consolidating all candidate information and documentation in one place for convenient access by hiring managers. LinkedIn has several features embedded within it that make all data collection, aggregation and visualisation much easier and more automated, thus allowing recruiters to progress applications efficiently and without much intervention.

Refined Search Algorithms

LinkedIn’s robust search functionality allows recruiters to filter by credentials, skills, endorsements, and other attributes to generate a tailored list of relevant profiles. As is the case with modern search engine best practices, astute recruiters and HR professionals can also leverage LinkedIn’s content-centric framework, recognising that a vibrant professional brand, insightful posts, optimised profiles and relevant content, can be a harbinger of a standout candidate. The same can be said for an organisation looking to obtain optimum visibility on the platform.

Networking and Connections

LinkedIn facilitates open and respectful dialogue and the cultivation of a trusted professional network. This is an invaluable asset for sourcing referrals, gathering background on candidates, and accelerating onboarding. Recruiters can tap connections – including former colleagues, managers, classmates, and others – to expedite outreach, gather quality references, and seamlessly transition top talent into new roles.

The Disadvantages of LinkedIn for Recruitment

Despite the aforementioned benefits, some hiring teams have expressed concerns about using LinkedIn for recruitment.

An Enormous Talent Pool

The sheer volume of LinkedIn members mandates that recruiters be highly selective in their outreach. Vetting swathes of profiles and inbound messages is time-consuming and is particularly painful if the job description is vague. Furthermore, strong candidates may not always proactively apply to posted roles, meaning that recruiters and hiring managers must sometimes exercise continuous cold pitches to talent. On top of that, recruiters must divulge specific criteria to attract qualified applicants and not leave entry requirements open to interpretation. 

Limited Visibility Into All Open Roles

Not all companies actively promote openings on LinkedIn, instead preferring to opt for alternative routes for candidate sourcing like job boards or directory listings, which can be preferential for companies in niche industries. Recruiters, particularly outsourced agencies, must align with their clients’ preferences for advertising roles, and if that does not include LinkedIn, they must adapt. If prompted, recruiters should utilise other channels alongside LinkedIn to ensure maximum visibility.

Not everyone is on LinkedIn

Despite it’s size and prominence there are still large swathes of people not on the platform, Graduates for example are still very thin on the ground, in a recent survey by College Pulse they highlighted that nearly 50% of graduates are not using LinkedIn, opting to search for jobs on alternative platforms.

Treat LinkedIn as part of the recruitment mix, one channel in an array of very powerful tools. Outsourcing services like Guru can provide a convenient centralised service that allow a broad reach for a single fixed fee.

Privacy Concerns

Some users provide limited profile information due to privacy worries, making them appear less suitable. It can be tempting to build networks and lists of connections quickly, with many eager to surpass the 500+ mark, a proverbial indicator of someone that is regularly active on the network. However, while there’s reason to suggest that the more connections the better, it is not always the right strategy. Furthermore, overly aggressive outreach can be off-putting, damaging a ‘respected’ recruiter’s brand and ability to network. Recruiters must exercise discretion and personalise all communications.

Operational Costs

While LinkedIn is free to join, advanced ‘Talent Solutions’ features required for recruitment are paid. Much like joining LinkedIn Premium poses many benefits, sometimes the perks do not justify the costs of upgrading to a professional membership. Organisations must bear this in mind when determining the suitability of the tool, particularly concerning how often and extensively they will need to fill roles. 

A Blueprint for Recruitment Success on LinkedIn

When deployed strategically, LinkedIn can be an influential tool for recruiting world-class talent across a wide variety of roles, from entry-level to executive leadership. 

But without a well-designed approach, it may yield lacklustre results for an organisation that seeks to leverage it for maximum effectiveness. 

Recruiters and hiring managers must:

  • Develop a comprehensive LinkedIn recruitment strategy aligned with the organisation’s talent acquisition objectives.
  • Leverage LinkedIn’s robust search and filtering capabilities to pinpoint candidates who are an ideal fit given their skills, experience, and credentials.
  • Build an extensive professional network across relevant industries and roles, nurturing relationships with connections that can provide references and referrals on request.
  • Craft highly specific job listings, entry requirements, and employee value propositions that resonate with relevant candidates who are encouraged to apply.
  • Curate a vibrant company profile and share insightful industry-related content to strengthen the organisation’s brand visibility, thus attracting top talent whether they are actively or passively looking for a new opportunity.
  • Maintain a personalised approach in all communications. Focus on quality over quantity to establish the organisation as a reputable and desirable place to work, whilst avoiding repetitive, forced, and sales-driven communication.
  • Continuously optimise recruitment efforts based on key metrics such as impressions, applications, interviews, and hires. Refine and tweak your strategy as needed, based on the effectiveness of your efforts thus far.
  • Consider the costs versus benefits of paid features like LinkedIn Premium or Talent Solutions for the organisation. They may provide a competitive advantage to accelerate and enhance recruitment.

With a strategic and metrics-driven approach, LinkedIn has the potential to be a pivotal resource in an organisation’s recruitment arsenal. But it requires investments in time, effort and funding to fully harness its power as a talent attraction and acquisition channel.