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As recruiters, we tend to stick with a standard procedure for finding candidates. We’ve adopted a mindset where everyone we need to recruit is on LinkedIn. However, this is not the case. Only 27% of Americans are on the platform, ranking 1st among all other countries with India in 2nd

We think LinkedIn is the gold standard and only the “best” candidates or the ones that matter have profiles. But this is far from the truth.  

Many recruiters and sourcers have become a little too conventional, losing their creative and analytical thinking skills by only relying on one source. There are a plethora of untapped A-player candidates that probably have never been approached by recruiters because they’re not easy to find. It takes more effort and research to find these diamonds in the rough.

With over 660 million users, LinkedIn has become the ‘go to’ when it comes to sourcing candidates. Every person that steps into recruitment starts out on LinkedIn.  It’s the most widely used tool and in some cases the only tool used in recruiting. We spend the majority of our time on the platform and fail to look for other channels to source and recruit candidates.

So why do we only use LinkedIn?

For one, it’s easy. Not only can you find and engage people with a simple search, but you’ll also notice that a majority of candidates that you have a 1st-degree connection with also include additional contact information and personal blogs or websites. 

Second, there are millions of candidates to access. Let’s face it, LinkedIn houses the largest amount of individuals who are looking to network and showcase their career accomplishments. 

Third, it’s convenient. Recruiters have established an extensive comfort level with this platform that they can now navigate blindfolded. While it’s great to be proficient in something you use every day, it’s not pushing the boundaries or challenging you to think of new creative ways to source candidates. The internet holds great depths of information and one Google X-ray search could be the key to discovering thousands of diverse social communities.

Conventional Recruiting on a Weak Platform

Unfortunately, LinkedIn has been abused by recruiters spamming candidates with jobs irrelevant to them and making blind connections with no context. Many talented professionals reach a point where they choose to delete their LinkedIn due to the abundance of nonsensical outreach received. 

People are not going to connect with you just because of your title or clickbait headlines. You need to bring value and provide a reason for connecting. The platform has been treated as a place to voice cheeseball sales pitches rather than having genuine conversations.

Another caveat with LinkedIn is the constant changing of rules and accessibility. For example, boolean strings are a recruiter’s best friend but in October 2018, they drastically limited the amount of AND or OR boolean operators in a search. Recruiters have no control over the platform’s roadmap. An extreme scenario would force a partial or complete shutdown of talent acquisition teams that are too reliant on the system. Imagine a staffing agency with over 100 open requisitions who solely relied on LinkedIn. What would happen to their operations if there was a lack of formula to find the right candidates? 

How does Boolean sourcing compare to AI sourcing? Read more here

An example of an intense circumstance is Microsoft putting LinkedIn up for sale and having another big tech giant acquire the platform and do a demonsterous overhaul. Another potential outcome that has been slightly proven before is new fierce competition. We’ve seen this with Google Hire. You can arguably say that Google Hire was expected to be the main competitor of LinkedIn. From first-hand observation, many of my firm’s clients made the switch to Google’s platform from LinkedIn until it was sunset. Imagine if Google continued developing the platform. They have monolithic vaults of data and could have easily seized LinkedIn’s customers making them obsolete.
LinkedIn has a lot of volatility, and we’ll explore strategies in the subsequent sections outlining action items to facilitate the goal of overcoming over-reliance.

Companies neglect to create business continuity plans when standard operations fail in all departments. It’s important to have set plans and procedures to continue delivering business as usual.

The cost of downtime especially in a high volume recruitment environment would be astronomically high.

 There are hundreds of other sourcing avenues to take that will not only diversify your network of candidates but enrich the information you’ve already acquired from LinkedIn.

 So what can you do?

Plan & Prepare

Now more than ever, companies should realize the consequences when there’s a lack of preparedness. Forming a comprehensive plan will take dedication and time but will potentially save your company in the long run. Meet with your recruiting and talent acquisition teams to carefully craft and develop a step by step procedure if LinkedIn is no longer a viable or accessible resource. LinkedIn can do whatever they want, it’s its own beast. Rules and algorithms change quite frequently and what you’re given access to can be modified in a second. 

One example is the recent sunset of the beloved chrome extension LinkedIn Sales Navigator. You need to control the narrative and create your own internal intelligence leveraging candidate data that you’re obtaining from multiple sourcing channels. Own the information and the connections. Big companies have sunset products before and Microsoft is no different.

Create Channels

Your competitors are already doing this. You need to create your own network of candidate sources and nurture them. There are a few ways of doing this. To start, build a community on a different platform. 

This could be on Slack, Facebook, or MeetUp. But you need to give something in return whether it’s having quarterly in-person networking events, sending out thought-provoking articles that are beneficial to your candidates, or as simple as checking in to see if they’re doing well or need some guidance. Tools like Hiretual help you uncover different contact points for you to reach your candidates. With this, you’ll be able to build lists for recruitment event campaigns. 

Next, you must have an option for candidates to sign up at their own liberty. This can be through your company’s website and having a simple form the candidate could fill out which will instantly sign them up to either automatically join your community or send out a separate invite link. 

Another strong channel that gets overlooked is your referral network. Some of the best A-player candidates and clients come from referrals. Ask the candidate you’re screening if they have colleagues or friends looking for better opportunities. You’d be surprised how many names they roll-off. 

The same approach can be used after you place a candidate. After you receive their overwhelmingly positive testimonial, ask if they know of anyone looking for something new. On the client side, if you’re doing amazing work with a company, the key individuals who work there will put in a good word with their own network of people and therefore score more business. 

Reinforce Your Data

Your data is the most valuable asset. Dirty data will get you nowhere. It needs to be enriched as much as possible while making it a point to keep the information current. Tools like Hiretual can help. The objective should be to duplicate, if not, be a step above the platforms you’re currently using. Essentially create a better LinkedIn. 

Find out where your candidates congregate outside of LinkedIn. This will take some time to research but your candidate calls can also help. Your screenings and outreach responses are tools to gather information but many times recruiters don’t ask enough. Usually, the line of questioning on the phone or information contained in the email is only related to the job they are pitching. 

You need more information! 

If a candidate says they’re not interested or the location is not ideal, ask what a realistic commute is for them and what opportunities will get them excited. Too many recruiters don’t capitalize on rejection. Get to know your candidate and take down notes, rather than a simple “No”. The goal is to obtain data, lots of it.

All in all, you can’t totally sweep LinkedIn away from your recruitment stack. It’s still essential for finding and forming relationships with top talent. However, it should not be so heavily relied on as it could lead to less than ideal outcomes in the long term. Now is the time to explore and create new channels, enhance your data, and more importantly form a substantial disaster recovery plan to ensure your recruitment operations remain uninterrupted in the potential event LinkedIn fails. 

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